Dasyproctidae – Agoutis & acouchis

Giant yet much lovable rodents of South and Central America

These rodents are native to Central and South America, where they inhabit a variety of habitats ranging from tropical rainforests to savannas and scrublands. Characterized by their long, slender legs and graceful physique, these creatures possess a distinctive appearance that sets them apart from other rodents. Their elongated back legs, in particular, contribute to their agility and speed, allowing them to navigate through dense vegetation with ease.

While agoutis and acouchis typically forage alone, they have been observed congregating in small groups around abundant food sources, suggesting a degree of social behavior among individuals. Despite this occasional social interaction, they generally prefer solitary foraging, utilizing their keen senses to locate fruits, seeds, and other plant materials that form the bulk of their diet. Interestingly, unlike some other rodent families, Dasyproctidae possesses a complete set of teeth, including incisors, premolars, and molars, but lacks canine teeth.

Newborn agoutis and acouchis exhibit remarkable precocity, with most individuals capable of taking their first steps within an hour of birth. These young animals emit low grunts, squeaks, or barks as a form of alarm communication, alerting nearby adults to potential threats. If danger is perceived, they will stamp their feet and flee the area, utilizing their agile limbs to escape predators and seek refuge in nearby vegetation or burrows.

Dasyproctids are highly adaptable creatures, capable of thriving in a variety of environments. They often make their homes on the shores of rivers, where they burrow into the sandy soil to create sheltered nesting sites. These burrows provide protection from predators and harsh weather conditions, allowing agoutis and acouchis to raise their young in relative safety.