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Agouti: Rainforest Rodents printer.gif

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An agouti is one of South America's biggest rodent. Imagine a giant guinea pig without a tail and longer legs, and you can picture an agouti. They are generally dark in color, with a white belly. Their fur is oily and shiny, which helps to shed water and keep them warm during the rainforest's heavy downpours.

Agoutis are widespread throughout South America and have adapted to live in dry deserts and tropical rainforests. They are very quick runners and also comfortable swimming in rivers, lakes, and flooded forests.

Agoustis have some of the strongest, sharpest teeth and jaws in the rainforest. They are only one of two animals that can successfully break into a Brazil nut (the other is a capuchin monkey, but they use a stone like a tool!).

Agoutis are naturally diurnal, or active during the day. Sleeping in burrows or hollowed out logs give the agouti protection from predators. Agoutis eat nuts, fruits, and small leaves. Their heads actually point down toward the ground, making it easier to find food.

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However, if an agouti lives in an area that is hunted or destroyed by humans, agoutis will change from diurnal to nocturnal. If they feel threatened, this change can help them survive. Because of their powerful sense of smell, agoutis are able to find food in the light or dark.

For further exploration, check out the following web sites.

The Honolulu Zoo's Agouti Page http://www.honoluluzoo.org/agouti.htm

Wellington Zoo's Agouti Profile http://www.wellingtonzoo.com/animals/animals/mammals/agouti.html

Fresno Chaffe's Zoo Agouti Page http://www.fresnochaffeezoo.com/animals/agouti.html

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