There are 11 known species of agouti. The agouti is a close relative of the guinea pig and can be found in Central and South America and the West Indies. They live in forests, savannahs, close to a water source.

Agoutis have 5 front toes and 3 hind toes on slim legs. Ears are small, but hearing is excellent. They have very short tails. Their coarse hair can be reddish to dark brown. They average up to about 24 inches long and weight from 6 1/2 -9 lbs. The basic diet consists of fallen fruits, leaves, roots, nuts and sometimes insects. They bury seeds, contributing to forest growth. In captivity, agoutis can live close to 17 years.

Agoutis feed during the day and sleep at night. But if they are stressed, they become nocturnal feeders. They are shy animals and if threatened, bark, a sound similar to a dog. They enjoy swimming and are good at it.

In the wild, agoutis fall prey to jaguars, eagles and other predators. Humans hunt them for their meat and pelts. They are also hunted by humans for the illegal pet trade.

Capturing wild agoutis can only bring them closer to being a threatened species. Since they will breed in captivity, there is no problem purchasing domesticated ones.

When considering an agouti as a pet, check the laws inn your area regarding keeping exotic pets. And make sure you have access to a veterinarian who understands and knows how to treat agoutis.

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