Agouti - South American Forest Rodent
Agoutis are a group of small Central and South American rodents that are close relatives of the popular domestic pet the guinea pig. The principle difference between the cute hefty rodent you're used to seeing chewing away on seedlings in a cage on your science teacher's desk and this wild animal is their size - especially their much longer legs. Agouti weigh in at up to 13 pounds (6 kg) and can grow up to 30 inches in length (76 cm).
With small, hairless and stubby tails and ruddy brownish/red coats, they blend in well on the dense forest floors where they like to dwell. In the countries surrounding their natural habitat, these peculiar rodents have become popular pets. In the wild, they may be skittish and tend to run from humans, but in captivity they become calmer and more trusting of their keepers. Agouti are social animals who group in large numbers to feed on a diet of just about anything that the trees of their natural habitat drop to the forest floor, including: old fruit, leaves, grasses, seeds and roots. When low hanging and fallen foods are scarce in the early spring, they can use their unique three-toed hind feet to climb trees to get access to fresher, green fruit.
Fact: agouti give birth to small litters of up to four on average, with only a three month period for gestation. These amazing creatures are notable for their abnormally long life spans, sometimes reaching over 20 years of age.