ZooBorns has more news to share from Bioparque M’Bopicuá, in Uruguay. A litter of three Azara’s Agouti was born at the park on October 30th!
Azara’s Agouti (Dasyprocta azarae) is a South American Agouti species native to Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina. The rodent species is named for Spanish naturalist, Felix de Azara.
Agoutis are related to guinea pigs and look quite similar, but they are larger and have longer legs. In the wild, they are shy animals and flee from humans, while in captivity they may become trusting.
Agoutis are found in forested and wooded areas, and they conceal themselves at night in hollow tree trunks or in burrows among roots. Active and graceful in their movements, their pace is either a kind of trot or a series of springs following one another so rapidly as to look like a gallop. They take readily to water, in which they swim well.
When feeding, Agoutis sit on their hind legs and hold food between their fore paws. They may gather in groups of up to 100 to feed. They eat fallen fruit, leaves and roots and may sometimes climb trees to eat green fruit. They will hoard food in small, buried stores. They are regarded as one of the few species that can open Brazil nuts without tools, mainly thanks to their strength and exceptionally sharp teeth.
Agoutis give birth to litters of two to four young after a gestation period of three months. Young are born into burrows lined with leaves, roots and hair. They are well developed at birth and may be up and eating within an hour. Fathers are barred from the nest while the young are very small, but the parents remain a pair for the rest of their lives. They can live for as long as 20 years, a remarkably long time for a rodent.
According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, Azara’s Agouti is classified as “Data Deficient”. There is continuing uncertainty on the species distribution, threats and conservation measures. However, this species is suspected to be threatened, but there is still very little information on its extent of occurrence, status and ecological requirement.