Geocapromys ingrahamiBahamian hutia

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Geographic Range

Geocapromys ingrahami is found on the islands of the Bahamas. Subspecies are found on other islands of the Caribbean, and northern Venezuela.

(Encyclopedia Britannica,1999)

Habitat

Geocapromys ingrahami is found in the forests of the Bahamas. It is found in the trees or on the ground. This species of Hutia is found mainly on the East Plana Cay of the Bahamas. (Attrill and Attrill, 2000; Packard, 1983)

Physical Description

Geocapromys ingrahami is a rat-like rodent. Its fur comes in many different colors. It can be gray, brown, black, white, or red. Its length ranges from 20 - 60 cm, not including the tail. The tail is short.

(Attrill, 2000; Encyclopedia Britannica, 1999)

  • Average mass
    5.000 kg
    11.01 lb
  • Average mass
    660 g
    23.26 oz
    AnAge
  • Average basal metabolic rate
    1.483 W
    AnAge

Reproduction

The females breed all year round. The gestation period is 17 - 18 weeks. The female may have one to four young. The young are born full of fur and with their eyes open. They are able to eat solid foods, like leaves, a few days after they are born. The young tend to stay with their mothers for up to two years. Geocapromys ingrahami lives up to 12 years and the reproduction rate is low. Sexual maturity is two years old.

(Attrill, 2000; Packard, 1983)

  • Key Reproductive Features
  • gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)
  • sexual
  • Range number of offspring
    1.000 to 4.000
  • Average number of offspring
    1
    AnAge
  • Range gestation period
    125 to 156 days
  • Range weaning age
    2.000 (low) days
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    Sex: female
    730 days
    AnAge
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    Sex: male
    730 days
    AnAge

Lifespan/Longevity

Behavior

Hutia live in pairs all their lives. They are very social with each other. They are not aggressive animals but they "wrestle" with each other. This "wrestling" is thought to be playful. There is no sexual or aggressive intention. The Hutia also mark their scent by urinating. Unlike dogs, Hutia do not use this technique to mark their territory. It is thought that it is used to ensure the cohesion of the population. The Bahamas Hutia is nocturnal and terrestrial.

(Attrill, 2000; Packard, 1983)

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

The Bahamas Hutia is mostly a vegetarian. It eats bark, leaves, nuts, fruits, and the occasional insect or lizard. Geocapromys ingrahami is a good climber but tends to eat the vegetation closer to the ground.

(Attrill, 2000; Packard, 1983; Encyclopedia Britannica, 1999)

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

The Bahamas Hutia can be easily bred and studied in zoos. Scientists also study this animal because it is endangered.

(Attrill, 2000)

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There is no negative affect on humans.

Conservation Status

Geocapromys ingarahami is an endangered species. It was once believed that it was extinct. The causes of their endangerment include hunting, habitat destruction, predation by introduced cats, dogs, and mongoose. Scientists have relocated some Hutia to other small islands of the Bahamas.

The animal is protected under the Wild Animals Protection Act of 1968. This prohibits killing and capturing of Hutia. The Bahamas Hutia has the most abundant population of all the Hutia species. One species is extinct, and all are endangered or threatened. A program is reintroducing the Bahamas Hutia to the island of Exuma.

(Attrill, 2000; Encyclopedia Britannica, 1999)

Other Comments

The Bahamas Hutia is known as a "living fossil" because it was once thought to be extinct. It was found in the early 1960's on a remote island of the Bahamas. Several programs are in progess to keep this species from extinction.

(Attrill, 2000)

Contributors

Courtney Gramlich (author), Milford High School, George Campbell (editor), Milford High School.

Glossary

Neotropical

living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.

World Map

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.

chemical

uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

endothermic

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.

forest

forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.

island endemic

animals that live only on an island or set of islands.

motile

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.

oceanic islands

islands that are not part of continental shelf areas, they are not, and have never been, connected to a continental land mass, most typically these are volcanic islands.

scrub forest

scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.

sexual

reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

social

associates with others of its species; forms social groups.

tactile

uses touch to communicate

terrestrial

Living on the ground.

threatened

The term is used in the 1994 IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals to refer collectively to species categorized as Endangered (E), Vulnerable (V), Rare (R), Indeterminate (I), or Insufficiently Known (K) and in the 1996 IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals to refer collectively to species categorized as Critically Endangered (CR), Endangered (EN), or Vulnerable (VU).

tropical

the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.

young precocial

young are relatively well-developed when born

References

Attrill, R., M. Attrill. 2000. "The Bahamas Hutia" (On-line). Accessed October 22, 2000 at http://www.attrill.freeserve.co.uk/hutia.htm.

Encyclopedia Britannica, 1999. "Hutia" (On-line). Accessed October 3, 2000 at http://britannica.com/seo/h/hutia/.

Packard, R. 1983. Hutia. Pp. 620 in Encyclopedia Britannica.

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, "Commonwealth of the Bahamas" (On-line). Accessed October 22, 2000 at http://www.mnh.si.edu/livingfossils/hutia.htm.