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Being way down low on the forest floor (and the food-chain) calls for some very special survival skills.

Description: Agouti are an agile, speedy forest-floor dweller with a long lifespan for a rodent (up to 20 years). Their neutral-coloured coat allows them to blend in with fallen leaves and the red tinge camouflages well with the shafts of golden light at dawn and dusk when they're most active. They are leaner than their rainforest friends, the guineapigs, and have long legs for extra speed when dashing through the understorey on their tip-toes hunting for snacks.

Diet: The agouti’s diet consists of fruit, nuts and seeds that fall from high above in the forest canopy. Powerful incisors let them crack easily into even the hardest of nut casings. They supplement with roots, leaves and shoots. If food is very scarce they will eat eggs or even shellfish they come across.

In the wild: Using their powerful hearing, agouti can track the ‘plop’ of a ripe fruit hitting the leaflitter from great distances. If they reach it first, they gobble it quickly, turning it in their nimble paws. If there’s more than they can fit in their belly, they bury the left-overs and may come back to it in the future when food is not so assured. Burying seeds protects them from other foragers. Sometimes an agouti might not be able to find their way back to their tasty treat or might get back too late and find a new sapling sprouted where their hidden snack once was.

Threats: Agouti are low on the forest food-chain and vulnerable to a number of bigger predator species such as coati, jaguar, ocelot, snakes, raptors and humans. They counter this with speed and a strong “just in case” flight response (agouti will run and hide at the slightest provocation). Newborn agouti can run at speed only one hour after birth. Adults can shoot 2m straight up, turn in mid-air and dash off to safety, FAST. Agouti meat is much prized by the traditional people of equatorial South America but the species’ long life-span suggests that they can—and do—survive up to two decades probably thanks to their cautious nature and risk-averse behaviour.

Did you Know?

Agouti is the only land-dwelling species in the region that can eat a Brazil Nut in its true form. They use their powerful incisors to (first) crack into the toughened 2kg Brazil fruit husk and (then) into the woody seeds nested inside.

And (yes!) a brazil ‘nut’ is actually a seed so when agouti hoard the leftovers below ground they’re actually bringing life to a new Brazil Nut tree and are considered an essential disperser for the species.

Primate Trail
Other Name/s
Brazilian Agouti
Scientific Name
Dasyprocta leporina
Conservation Status
Least Concern
Body Length
2-4 kg
104 - 120 days
Number of Young
2 - 4 typically
(NE) South America
Rainforest, forest, may also inhabit thick brush near a water source)
South America

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