Often referred to as the Jungle Gardeners, they provide a vital role in the forests of South America as they bury seeds and nuts to store for later a little like squirrels.
Interesting fact: Agoutis are the only animal with teeth strong enough to open the grapefruit-sized seed pods of the Brazil nut and are therefore crucial to the survival of the tree.
This species is found in both tropical rain forests and tropical dry forests of South America. Listed as Data Deficient because there is still very little information about its population density and ecological requirements. They are considered at risk due to the destruction of forests for logging and agriculture. Natural predators include the Jaguarundi, Jaguar, Ocelot and large snakes. Indigenous people also hunt them for food.
They eat mostly seeds, nuts and fallen fruits although they will eat bird's eggs and carrion if they find it.
Breeding and social dynamics
Azara's agouti are shy animals that drum their hind feet like rabbits when disturbed and spend their lives foraging for food. They are known to be good swimmers and yet strangely they only have three toes on their hind feet. Twins are usually born after a gestation of about 90 days.
Part of a managed European breeding programme.