WARNING: Mom, don’t read this blog entry – it’s about a rodent, and I know you hate rodents.
(Whereas Anne thinks rodents are adorable.)
Agoutis are New World rodents related to guinea pigs (to name a familiar species). Native to Central and South Americas, as well as some of the Caribbean islands, agouti have also been introduced into other locations. They generally inhabit rainforests or savannahs, and sometimes cultivated fields, depending on species (there are several), eating fruit, nuts, leaves and roots. With short front legs and long hind legs, they run quickly by springing along the ground. They live up to twenty years, and a male and female pair-bond for life (how sweet!), mating year-round to produce one to several offspring at a time. Agouti range 18-30 inches in length and 5-13 pounds, which put them in the roast chicken/turkey size for eating. And yes, they are eaten in many places. Here’s a recipe for Curry Agouti. Apparently agouti are also prized as a means of getting out of traffic offences, as noted in this article about two Trinidadian police officers accused of soliciting and receiving a bribe of $3,000 and an agouti.
We saw the agouti pictured here at the Asa Wright NatureCentre in Trinidad, where we spent a couple days and a night hiking through the rain forest, learning about the myriad plant species, watching the birds at the feeding stations at dawn, and ducking the bats at night. This little guy (or gal) partook of the various fruits that the center staff puts out to attract the local birds. We also saw them running around with fruit freshly fallen from the trees. And no, agouti wasn’t on the menu for dinner that night (at least, we didn’t recognize it…)