Found in Colombia, Venezuela, Surinam, the Amazon Basin of Peru and northern Brazil.
They are found in forests, thick brush, savannahs and cultivated areas. In Peru, they are confined to the Amazonian region where they are found in all parts of the low selva zone and many parts of the high selva zone. It is found at altitudes of 2000 m or more. Agoutis live in close proximity to water, being found on the banks of all types of streams.
In some areas, they construct burrows among limestone boulders, along river banks or under the roots of trees.
Head and body length ranges from 415-620 mm. Tail length ranges from 10-35 mm. Fur is coarse and glossy, with the longest and thickest hair located on the posterior part of the back. Fur color ranges from pale orange through several shades of brown to almost black. The underparts are white, yellow or buff colored. The body form is slender, the ears are short, and the hindfoot fas three toes with hooflike claws. Females have four pairs of mammae.
- Range mass
- 1.300 to 4.000 kg
- 2.86 to 8.81 lb
In Venezuela agoutis breed throughout the year. Females have an average estrous cycle of about 34 days, with gestation lasting around 104 to 120 days. They also experience postpartum estrus. Litters are usually made up of one or two young, sometimes three occurs. Newborns are fully furred, have their eyes open and are able to run in their first hour of life. Females lactate for about twenty weeks.
- Key Reproductive Features
- gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)
- Range number of offspring
- 1.000 to 3.000
- Range gestation period
- 104 to 120 days
- Range weaning age
- 140 (high) days
- Parental Investment
- Range lifespan
- 18 (high) years
- Range lifespan
Agoutis are basically diurnal, but in areas where they have been affected by humans they may not leave their shelters until dusk. They are terrestrial and are adapted for a cursorial life. They walk, trot or gallop on their digits, and also can jump vertically at least two meters from a standing start. Aggression increases in adults at the onset of every new litter. This is caused by the shortage of available food. During courtship rituals, the male sprays the female with urine causing her to go into a frenzy dance.
Communication and Perception
Diet consists of fruits, vegetables, and various succulent plants.
Economic Importance for Humans: Positive
Agoutis tame easily and make good pets. They are also extensively hunted for food.
- Positive Impacts
In some areas, they have declined drastically due to habitat destruction and hunting.
Jerry Svendsen (author), Ohio University.
living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.
- bilateral symmetry
having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.
uses smells or other chemicals to communicate
animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.
A substance that provides both nutrients and energy to a living thing.
forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.
an animal that mainly eats fruit
An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.
having the capacity to move from one place to another.
- native range
the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.
rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.
- scrub forest
scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.
reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female
associates with others of its species; forms social groups.
uses touch to communicate
- tropical savanna and grassland
A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.
A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.
- temperate grassland
A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.
- young precocial
young are relatively well-developed when born
Grimwood, I. 1969. Notes on the distribution and status of some Peruvian mammals. Spec. Publ. Amer. Comm. Int. Wildl. Protection, no. 21: 34-35.
Nowak, R., J. Paradiso. 1983. Walker's Mammals of the World 4th Ed.. Baltimore and London: The John Hopkins University Press.
Smythe, N. 1978. The natural history of the Central American Agouti. Smithson. Contrib. Zool., no. 257: iii-52.
Weir, B. 1974. Reproductive characteristrics of hystricomorph rodents. Symp. Zool. Soc. London, 34: 437-446.