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Agouti -The Common Rodent Species of Dasyprocta 

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The agouti, scientifically known as Dasyprocta, is a family of rodents commonly found in various parts of Latin America, including Brazil, Venezuela, and Bolivia. 

Known for their brown or reddish-brown fur and long, prominent agouti teeth, these creatures spend most of their time on the ground and are found in various habitats, from tropical forests to grasslands and scrublands. 

Despite being common throughout many parts of the continent, the agouti is an intriguing and often misunderstood species that deserves further attention and study. 

Physical Characteristics

Common agouti photographed closeup in a rainforest in Costa Rica.

Agoutis are primarily recognized by their average size, which ranges from 14 to 17 inches long, and weighs approximately 3 to 6 pounds. Another prominent feature of the agouti is their dark brown fur, streaked with light hairs that gives them a speckled appearance. 

The fur on their underside is typically lighter in color, and they have large, almond-shaped eyes on the side of their heads, allowing them to have a 270-degree vision which helps them avoid predators

They also have strong and sturdy legs, which aid them in running and escaping from predators, with a top speed of about 35 miles per hour. Their feet are equipped with long, curved claws, which help dig through soil and other substrates when looking for food. 


Agouti’s thick fur provides insulation from heat and other environmental conditions. The texture of their fur is coarse and brutal, which helps them protect themselves from getting bitten by other animals, spiders, and insects they come in contact with while devouring their food. 

The agouti’s fur is a mixture of guard hairs and softer underfur, making them appear well-camouflaged in their natural environment. They molt twice a year and are said to shed their fur coat completely, which also helps them retain their coat’s fur strength and sheen a few times every year. 


Agoutis are herbivores, meaning they feed mainly on plant materials, including fruits, nuts, seeds, and vegetation. However, they also consume insects and occasionally hunt for small animals like lizards, snails, and crabs to supplement their diet. 

Notably, Agoutis play an essential role in plant reproduction as they are known to disperse seeds around their habitat that help grow plants and trees, thus making them a necessary part of the forest ecosystem. 

They have a unique way of feeding, where they quickly grab food with their hands and front claws and then sit upright on their hind legs to eat.


The Agouti is typically active during the day and often uses burrows or crevices in rocks or trees as their nighttime hiding place. They are cautious creatures and approach food and water sources slowly and carefully, ready to flee if they sense danger. 

Agoutis are very social and often form groups of dominant male and female pairs and submissive members who cooperate with the dominant pair. 

They are also known for their playful behaviors, such as running around, jumping, and chasing each other, which allow them to burn up some energy they gain from their food.

A Comparison Between the Gray Agouti and Red-Rumped Agouti

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The gray agouti and red-rumped agouti are the most commonly found agouti species. The gray agouti is usually found in the northern Amazon Basin, while the red-rumped agouti resides mainly in the southern Amazon Basin and other parts of South America

Here are some of the similarities and differences between these two species:

  • Appearance: The gray agouti has a grayish-brown fur coat lighter on its belly, while the red-rumped agouti has a reddish-brown fur coat with a white rump patch. Both have large, bright eyes and prominent ears that can swivel independently.
  • Diet: The gray agouti feeds on fruits, seeds, and nuts, while the red-rumped agouti has a more diverse diet that includes bulbs, flowers, and leaves. Both species play an essential role in seed dispersal and forest regeneration.
  • Conservation status: The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists the gray agouti as “Least Concern,” while they consider the red-rumped agouti as “Near Threatened” due to habitat loss and hunting.

The Benefits of Having an Agouti as a Pet

Central American Agouti Or Guatusa In South America

People do not commonly keep agoutis as pets, but if you are considering adopting one, here are some of the benefits you can expect:

  • Low Maintenance: Agoutis are relatively low-maintenance pets, as they do not require specialized housing or grooming. 
  • Affectionate: Agoutis are social animals that enjoy human interaction and can become affectionate with their owners. Agoutis are intelligent creatures that people can teach tricks and commands to.
  • Cleanliness: Agoutis are naturally clean animals that groom themselves regularly and do not have a strong odor. They also have a strict bathroom routine and prefer to use a designated area in their enclosure.

The Importance of Providing Adequate Shelter, Food, and Entertainment for an Agouti

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Agoutis are natural burrowers, so their living quarters should have an area where they can hide and dig.

Regarding food, agoutis require a varied diet, including fresh fruits and vegetables, hay, and high-quality pellets. Some of the best foods to feed your agouti include carrots, apples, bananas, sweet potatoes, broccoli, and spinach. 

Providing your agouti with plenty of toys and something to chew on is essential, as they love to gnaw and play. Some of the most popular toys for agouti include wooden blocks, branches, tunnels, and cardboard boxes.

How to Care For Your Agouti Properly and Safely

It would help if you remembered a few things to care for your agouti correctly and safely. Firstly, agoutis are social animals and thrive in pairs or groups. So, consider getting a couple of agoutis to support each other’s company. 

Secondly, providing them a clean and safe environment is vital to their health and well-being. Regular cleaning of their enclosure and bowls is essential.

Finally, agoutis are only for some. They require a lot of time, attention, and care, so you must be confident in providing them with what they need. With proper care and attention, agoutis can make fantastic pets full of personality, intelligence, and charm.

Key Points

Get to Know the Agouti | The Common Rodent Species of Dasyprocta

CategoryAgouti Characteristics
Appearance– Average size: 14 to 17 inches long
– Weight: 3 to 6 pounds
– Brown or reddish-brown fur with light streaks
– Large almond-shaped eyes
Fur– Thick, coarse fur with a speckled appearance
– Provides insulation and protection
– Molts twice a year
Diet– Herbivorous, mainly eats fruits, nuts, seeds, and vegetation
– Occasionally consumes insects and small animals
Behavior– Diurnal and cautious
– Social animals that form groups
– Playful behaviors
Gray Agouti– Found in the southern Amazon Basin and South America
– Reddish-brown fur coat with white rump patch
Red-Rumped Agouti– Found in southern Amazon Basin and South America
– Reddish-brown fur coat with white rump patch
Benefits as a Pet– Low maintenance
– Affectionate and trainable
– Naturally clean and odor-free
Shelter and Food– Need areas for hiding and digging
– Varied diet with fresh fruits, vegetables, hay, and pellets
Care and Safety– Thrive in pairs or groups
– Provide a clean and safe environment
– Requires time, attention, and care
Conservation Status– Gray Agouti: Least Concern
– Red-Rumped Agouti: Near Threatened due to habitat loss and hunting


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In conclusion, the agouti is a fascinating rodent species in Central and South America. Despite its standard status, there is much more to know about these animals. Agoutis are essential seed dispersers and play a critical role in maintaining the health of their ecosystems. 

Agoutis also earn recognition for their unique and highly adaptive behaviors, such as their ability to dig burrows, swim, and jump up to six feet in the air. Moreover, agoutis are a valuable resource for local communities as a source of food and medicine. 

We must continue to learn more about these animals and work to protect their habitats, ensuring their survival for future generations.

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