Random Photo: Central American Agouti
La Tigra National Park march 17 2008
Commonly known in Honduras as Guatuza
The coat ranges from pale orange to several shades of brown or blackish dorsally, and yellowish to white ventrally. The rump is a contrasting color. In some individuals inconspicuous stripes may be present. The fur of the agouti is course yet glossy. The hairs increase in length from the anterior to the posterior part of the body. The body length ranges from 415-620 mm and the tail is 10-35 mm. The weight ranges from 1.3-4.0 kg. The body form of the Central American agouti is slender. They have short ears, and the hind foot has three toes with hoof-like claws (Nowak 1999). Females have four pairs of ventral mammae (Nowak 1999).
Agoutis mainly feed on fruits and, on their daily excursions, look for fruit-bearing trees (Grzimek 1990). It has been recorded that agoutis are able to hear fruit falling from trees from far away, and the sound of ripe fruit hitting the ground attracts them (Grzimek 1990). When food is abundant, they carefully bury seeds to use as food when fruit is scarce or not in season. This behavior is important in the dispersal of the seeds of many species of forest trees (Macdonald 1984). Individuals often follow bands of monkeys and pick up fruit dropped from trees (Smythe 1978). Dasyprocta punctata also sometimes browsed and ate crabs, vegetables and other succulent plants (Nowak 1999). Agoutis feed by sitting on their hind legs and holding their food in their forepaws. They then turn the fruit around several times while peeling it with their teeth. If there are any remaining parts of the fruit not eaten at the end of meal time, they are buried.
Agouti are preyed on by medium to large predators throughout their range, including humans. They avoid predation by being alert and agile in dense undergrowth.
Agouti are important prey animals for medium to large predators, such as eagles and jaguars. Agouti are also important in facilitating the regeneration of tropical fruit-bearing trees through their seed caching activities.
Nowak, R. 1999. Walker’s Mammals of the World (Sixth Edition, Volume II). Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
Grzimek, B. 1990. Grzimek’s Encyclopedia of Mammals (Volume 3). New York: McGraw-Hill Publishing Company.
Smythe, N. 1978. The Natural History of the Central American Agouti (Dasyprocta Punctata). Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institutional Press.
Macdonald, D. 1984. The Encyclopedia of Mammals. New York: Facts on File Publications.
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