Exotic animal from South America spotted roaming around Colorado wilderness

There’s a furry fugitive on the loose.

Wildlife officials are trying to capture an adorable rabbit-like rodent native to South America spotted frolicking in the Colorado mountains.

The exotic Patagonian mara — a tiny two to three-foot-tall critter — has been seen by park rangers, hikers, and visitors in Bear Creek Lake Park in Lakewood, Colo., just about 15 miles outside of downtown Denver, officials told 9 News.

The Patagonian mara has been spotted roaming around Bear Creek Lake Park in Lakewood, Colo. Reg Cox via Storyful

“They are a larger species of rodent, even though they’ve got ears that are pretty long like a rabbit and legs that look almost like a deer,” Denver Zoo animal care specialist Kat Emanuel told the outlet.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers are now trying to trap the furry little friend and find it a new home, but they have been unsuccessful thus far.

Patagonian maras are long-eared, hoof-legged rodents covered in a coat of “stiff, dense and very fine” gray-brown fur with a white patch on the center of their body and a tint of orange around their flanks and head, according to the National Zoo.

They are primarily found in grasslands and brushlands in central and southern Argentina.

The animal falls under the “near threatened” category under the wildlife conservation status and can live approximately 14 years in human care.

Officials believe the runaway rodent could have been someone’s pet and is used to being around people, given the number of park-goers who have spotted the little guy roaming the wilderness.

They are primarily found in grasslands and brushlands in central and southern Argentina. Reg Cox via Storyful

“It could be concerning. That kind of behavior, he’s probably not used to keeping an eye out for a lot of dangers in his environment if this is the case,” Emily Insalaco, senior director of animal care at the Denver Zoo said.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers have set live traps around the area using “a combination of fruits and vegetables” since the mara is an herbivore, the outlet reported.

CPW spokesperson Kara Van Hoose hopes the traps will lure the furry critter in so they can find the mara a more sheltered life here in the US.

The animal falls under the “near threatened” category under the wildlife conservation status and can live approximately 14 years in human care. Reg Cox via Storyful

“We don’t know because we don’t know anything about the animal itself,” Insalaco said. “We don’t know its temperament. The main thing would be to get it somewhere safe and make sure it’s healthy and then we can go from there.”

Officials have asked the public to keep an eye out for the little guy, but if seen, do not approach the animal, feed it, or try taking a picture with the mara.

If captured, they plan to investigate whether the mara was domesticated and whether someone was keeping the little critter as a pet.

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