Central American Agouti, Dasyprocta punctate

The Central American agouti (Dasyprocta punctate) is a species of rodent in the family Dasyproctidae. Its range extends from the Yucatan Peninsula and Chiapas in southern Mexico to Central America and from Columbia and northwestern Ecuador to western Venezuela. Populations of this agouti have been introduced into the Cayman Islands and Cuba.

The Central American agouti typically weighs between 6.6 and 9.3 pounds, but its color varies slightly depending on location. In the main area of its range, it is red, yellowish grey with black, or orange in color. Agoutis in western Venezuela, northern Colombia, and on the Atlantic slope of Panama and Costa Rica bear brown or greyish black coloration on the foreparts. These individuals have an orange middle body and a black or beige backend. Members of this species in Ecuador and western Colombia have a yellowish backend and yellowish-brown foreparts.

Populations of Central American agoutis have been found in Peru, western Paraguay, far northwestern Argentina, far southwestern Brazil, and Bolivia, but these are thought to be a distinct species known as the brown agouti, although more information is necessary for a complete classification. Individuals in these populations are typically brownish grey, yellow and black, or greyish black and orange in color. They can weigh an average between 6.6 and 11 pounds.

The Central American agouti, like other species of agouti, is active during the day and lives in monogamous pairs. It prefers a diet of seeds and fruits, and is known as a vital seed disperser. Although some populations have decreased because of deforestation and hunting, there are no major threats to the species as a whole. The IUCN has given it a conservation status of “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List.

Image Caption: A Central American Agouti (Dasyprocta punctata) in Gamboa, Colón, Panama. Credit: Geoff Gallice/Wikipedia(CC BY 2.0)