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Karl: Male, born August 27, 2004 at Buffalo Zoo, and came to Philadelphia on January 13, 2005. Karl can be found in the Small Mammal House rotunda sharing an exhibit with the two-toed sloths.
Our agoutis share an exhibit in the Small Mammal House with the two-toed sloths. They are usually seen scurrying around the floor and foraging for bits of food that the sloths drop.
Small Mammal House
Agoutis are rodents with glossy, coarse fur that ranges from reddish brown to almost black. The hair on the rump is longer than the rest and can be held erect much like a porcupine’s quills when the animal is frightened. Their bodies are slender and their rear legs are longer than their front, which gives them a characteristic crouched stance. They are quite agile and move easily through the thick undergrowth. Their ears are round and hairless, and they have very short, hairless tails that are little more than a stub.
There is little information available on their lifespan in the wild. In captivity they can reach into their mid to late teens.
Agoutis are primarily diurnal (active during the day) although they may be active at night if the moon is bright or if there is human disturbance in the area. They appear to have poor night vision, so prefer to forage during the day. Agoutis forage in pairs or small groups to help them keep a lookout for danger. They communicate by stamping their hind feet like a rabbit, but they also vocalize with grunts and squeals. They are wary and quick and their streamlined bodies are well adapted to running through dense cover.
Agoutis are monogamous and live in pairs or small groups consisting of an adult pair and their recent offspring. The adults hold and defend a territory, although they will shift their ranges based on the availability of food. Agoutis have 1-3 offspring after a 104-120 day gestation. The young are precocial (fully furred with eyes open) and can run within an hour of birth. The adults spend a long period of time raising their offspring, who may stay with them for over 20 weeks.
Length 20 – 25”
Weight 6.6 – 10 lbs
The agouti is an herbivore consuming mainly fallen fruit and nuts in the wild. At the Zoo, agoutis are offered a base diet of commercial herbivore food that provides the majority of nutrients the animal requires. The enrichment portion of the diet includes a variety of fruit and vegetables and, of course, Brazil nuts!
Agoutis are common over large parts of South America and occupy a wide range of habitats as long as good cover is available.
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