Desmarest’s Hutia, Capromys pilorides, also known as the Cuban Hutia, is a species of hutia endemic to Cuba. It is found in a wide range of habitats throughout its area. In northern Cuba, populations tend to be found around areas where mangroves are abundant. Southern populations are more terrestrial. While they are abundant all over mainland Cuba and its Islands, populations in the eastern mountains are declining.
Desmarest’s Hutia ranges in size from 8 to 24 inches. It weighs from 2.2 to 20 pounds. It averages about 15 pounds. It has thick, coarse fur which extends to the tip of the tail. The color of the body fur varies from black to brown, with a light sand color and red also seen. The body is stocky and the legs short. It moves with a slow, waddling gait, but can perform a quick hop when pursued. The feet have five toes with large claws which assist the animal in climbing. The stomach is divided into three compartments by constrictions in the gut and is the most complex of any rodent.
These animals usually live in pairs, but can be found individually or in small groups. They are diurnal and do not burrow, so during the night they rest in hollows in rocks or trees. They are omnivorous but eat mostly bark, leaves and fruit. Occasionally they will take small vertebrates such as lizards. Both males and females scent mark their territory with urine.
They breed throughout the year with a gestation period of between 110 and 140 days (normally around 120 to 126 days), although peak breeding season is in June/July. They normally produce between one to three young, weighing an average of 8 oz. Young are born with fur, eyes fully open and the ability to walk. They are weaned at around five months and reach sexual maturity at around ten months. In captivity they live for eight to eleven years.