Agouti at Posada Amazonas by Lucas Bustamante

About the Agouti

The Agouti is a common mammal from the Amazon rainforests. It is present from from Mexico to Argentina. The species that occurs in the rainforests of Tambopata is the Central American Agouti (Dasyprocta punctata). You can just call it “Agouti”.

Agoutis are common in the rainforests of Tambopata and elsewhere. Visitors encounter them a lot because they often forage during the day. They are not as shy of people as other animals. They look like an  oversized guinea pig crossed with squirrel. Agoutis are rodents adapted to foraging for seeds on the forest floor.

Agouti at Posada Amazonas

They prefer to stay in the shade of the forest understory but they will take to water to avoid predators. They can run long distances as fast as a rabbit. Agoutis also give a loud, “honking” alarm call when startled.

How to identify the Central American Agouti:

To learn to identify agoutis download our illustrated plate and photographic guide to Amazon Rainforest Animals.

A few interesting facts about the Central American Agouti:

  • Eats Brazil nuts: The agouti opens a Brazil nut seed pod without tools. First they gnaw on the seed pod with strong, sharp incisors. Then they remove and eat a few of the Brazil nuts inside. The only other animal capable of opening a Brazil Nut seed pod is the Red and Green Macaw.
  • “Plant” Brazil Nut trees: Agoutis destroy Brazil Nut seeds but they also help to cultivate the plant. They bury Brazil Nut seeds for later use. Agoutis forget some seeds that eventually grow into Brazil Nut Trees.
  • Raises fur on back to look larger: Agoutis raise the fur on their hindquarters in aggressive interactions. This way, they look bigger than their actual size.
  • “Agouti” colored fur: The fur of agouti has different shades of brown depending on the angle of the light. Each hair has bands of both light and dark colors with a black tip. Such a color pattern is “agouti” in other mammals. The gene which produces this property in mammal fur is the “agouti” gene.

How to plan your Amazon travel to see agoutis and other Amazon wildlife:

  • Go on a hike in the rainforest with a trained guide: Agoutis are everywhere in the rainforest. You can see them around lodge gardens. However, to see an agouti at his craft, hang out with a guide to see it steal, hide and Brazil nut seeds. To practice, download your Amazon Rainforest Animal identification guide and the beautiful illustrated plate of Amazon mammals.

As Seen in

National Geographic
The Huffington Post
yahoo News
Popular Science