Covering the southernmost region of South America, Patagonia’s stunning landscapes of desert, plains and mountains attract visitors from around the world who come to hike and appreciate the region’s natural beauty. Because of its unique habitat, Patagonia is home to some fascinating creatures, with a number of native mammal species, as well as birds and reptiles. Read on to learn about three species you might spot while on the lookout for wildlife in Patagonia.
The guanaco, known by its scientific name as Lama guanacoe, is a member of the camel family and bears close resemblance, and relationship, with llamas and alpacas. All three of these species, along with the vicuna, are known as lamoids and have a similar look as well as the tendency to spit when agitated. They generally travel in groups of females with one male and are herbivores, grazing on plants and grass. Young guanacos, called guanaquitos, have soft wool that has been used in the textile industry since the mid-1900s to create luxury fabric renowned for its softness
Puma concolor, also known as a mountain lion or cougar, is found not just in Patagonia but also in regions of North America. That said, just because it’s widespread doesn’t mean it’s easy to find; pumas are known for being stealthy and largely silent. Mountain lions are generally around 1.2 metres long with a 0.75 metre-long tail. They are usually solitary creatures, dispersing from their mothers and siblings between 10-26 months of age, if they survive. Pumas are carnivores and hunt small mammals, larger ungulates and even other pumas by pouncing from behind.
Specifically relating to the Patagonian puma, a study published in PLoS ONE has recently found that pumas in this region kill more prey than in North America supposedly due to the interference of Patagonian condors which irritate the puma and cause it to go find more food elsewhere.
The Andean condor and its Californian counterpart are some of the largest flying birds in the world, with a magnificent wingspan reaching up to 3.2 metres and a body length of 1.2 metres. The condor is a black bird with grey wings and a white ring around it’s neck, characterised by a prominence on their foreheads. In Patagonia, the condor feeds among the open plains on dead carcasses, including those leftover from puma kills. The condor lays its eggs in caves and on ledges at elevations of over 3,000 metres, without using any nests.
To see these fascinating Patagonian animals firsthand, Aurora Expeditions offers exciting trips through the region, which emphasise the region’s natural wonders.