Redrumped agouti

Dasyprocta leporina

TAXONOMY

Dasyprocta leporina (Linnaeus, 1758), Peninka, Suriname. Also known as Dasyprocta aguti.

OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Brazilian agouti, orange-rumped agouti; Spanish: Acure, picure.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Head and body length, 12.6-25.2 in (32-64 cm); tail, 0.4-2.75 in (1-7 cm); weight, 1.3-8.8 lb (0.6-4 kg). Head, shoulders,

forelegs, and mid-back are a greenish brown; the rump is a dark red to bright fire orange (this may not be visible unless the rump hairs are erect). There is sometimes a crest of longer black hairs between the shoulders and up to the top of the head. The belly varies from shades of muddy to pure orange, sometimes with a white midline. Populations on Caribbean islands tend to be smaller than those on the mainland and are less colorful, being dark brown with long chocolate-colored hairs forming a "cape" over the shoulders.

DISTRIBUTION

Found in northeastern South America, ranging from northeastern Venezuela and the Guianas, south to south-central Brazil. They are also in the eastern Amazon basin. They also occur on the Lesser Antilles (Bermuda, Grenada, and Barbados), and in Trinidad and Tobago. They have been introduced onto the Virgin Islands.

HABITAT

Occur in primary and secondary forest growth. This species has a preference for areas with dense undergrowth and so is frequently found in natural clearings like tree falls and along riverbanks.

BEHAVIOR

Monogamous pairs travel together and are most active in the early morning and later afternoon. They may also be active on bright moonlit nights.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Nuts are buried in seasons of plenty against times of scarcity. Although the agouti's spatial memory is good, some seeds get overlooked. These, buried in the ground, grow to replenish the forest; the agouti is an important disperser of forest tree seeds.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

One individual lived nearly 18 years in captivity.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threateed.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

Heavily hunted. An important source of meat in rural areas. ♦

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