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Mammals

Agouti

agouti

Dasyprocta leporina

Distribution:

South America

Habitat:

Rainforest, grassland and plantations

Diet:

Fruit, nuts, vegetation

Gestation:

120 days, two young born

Longevity:

Up to 20 years in captivity

Predators:

Humans, ocelots

Conservation status:

Least concern

General:

Agoutis are rodents that may grow to 60cm long (about the size of a rabbit), weigh 4kg and live to 20 years – a very long time for a rodent. Agoutis sit on their hind legs to eat, holding the food in their fore feet. They have five front and three rear toes. Agoutis are terrestrial and can move quickly (trotting, walking or bounding), jump at least 1.5m high and swim well. Agoutis may bury excess food, which is an important seed dispersal role in the forest. In New Zealand all rodents are introduced; Kiore by Maori settlers and rats and mice by Europeans. Introduced rodents are a real threat to the survival of native birds, lizards and invertebrates. Rats and mice are omnivores; they eat plants and animals, including eggs and nestlings.

At Hamilton Zoo:

We have seven female agouti who live here at the Zoo. As you walk through the rainforest, look over the ledge and you might catch a glimpse of them roaming around.