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Azara's Agouti Fact File

Dasyprocta azarae

Credit: Public Domain

Weight

2-3kg

(4.4-6.6lbs)

Length

43-57.5cm

(17-22.75in)

Lifespan

Wild Unknown

Captive 20 years

Diet

Herbivores

Grass, Fruit, Nuts

Conservation Status

IUCN

Data Deficient

The Gardener of the Forest!

The Azara's agouti is nicknamed the gardener of the forest. These small mammals will often find more food they can eat in one sitting and will bury the excess. Sometimes they come back for it and other times it will sprout new plants.

These animals are herbivores and their large teeth mean they are one of the few animals which can feed on the brazil nut.

Females will dig a burrow in to the ground where they can give birth to up to four young at any one time.

This species is hunted and is also suffering declines through habitat loss.

Read on to learn more about these mighty mammals.

Appearance

What does the Azara's Agouti look like?

Across the body of these animals is a coat of fur which is colored mid-brown across the back with pale speckling across it. Their is a slight yellowish tinge to the fur on the underside.

On the front feet they have five toes but on the rear they have just three.

At the end of the body is a short tail which measures 1-3.5cm (0.4-1.4in) long.

An average Azara's agouti will measure 34-57.5cm (17-22.75in) long and weigh 2-3kg (4.4-6.6lbs).

Adaptations

How does the Azara's Agouti survive in its habitat?


Azara's agoutis have a strong jaw containing large teeth which help them to break through the shell of nuts.

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Diet

What does the Azara's Agouti eat?

These animals are herbivores. Their diet is made up of seeds, shoots, leaves, fruit and plant material.

They are able to break through the shells of hard nuts as a result of their large teeth. This is one of the few species which can break through the hard shell of a Brazil nut.

When food is abundance they have been seen to collect excess and hide it. Occasionally this is hidden and the agouti forgets about it which can allow new plants to grow in the forest. This practice has given rise to the nickname, 'gardeners of the forest.'

As they eat they will sit back on to their hind legs and hold the food in their front legs.

Learn more about the Azara's Agouti in this video from Banham Zoo on YouTube

Range

Where do you find the Azara's Agouti?

South America is the native home of the Azara's agouti. Here they can be found in the following countries – Argentina; Bolivia; Brazil and Paraguay.

Habitat

Where can the Azara's Agouti survive?

The Azara's agouti is found in patches within savannah and lowland forest.

These animals seek out shelter and are considered shy. They will be seen hiding in tree hollows or burrows which they will dig in to the ground.

Azara's Agouti (Dasyprocta azarae)

Credit: Public Domain

Reproduction

How does the Azara's Agouti produce its young?

Azara's agouti pairs will remain together for life meaning the species is considered monogamous.

After a gestation period of 90 days the female will produce 2-4 young. Females give birth in their burrow and remain there until the young are ready to leave.

Breeding takes place year round but a peak is observed during September and August.

Behavior

What does the Azara's Agouti do during its day?

When threatened this species will vocalize a low bark.

This species is active during the day when it will look for food.

They are able swimmers and will use this to move through their habitat.

Azara's Agouti (Dasyprocta azarae)

Credit: Public Domain

Predators and Threats

What stops the Azara's Agouti from surviving and thriving?

Natural predators of this species include cats such as the jaguar.

When spotted by a predator these animals will freeze. If they are spotted they raise long hairs on their rump in hopes of scaring off the the predators.

When threatened they will freeze in hopes of not being spotted by the threat. At present not enough scientific information is available for the IUCN to classify this species.

Populations of the Azara's agouti are decreasing. They are hunted and this could be leading to localized extinctions in some areas. Their habitat is also facing habitat loss.

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Quick facts

The name of this species is taken from a Spanish naturalist, Félix de Azara.

This species was first described for modern science during 1823.

Azara's Agouti (Dasyprocta azarae)

Credit: Iveraldo Luiz Athanazio, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

References

Catzeflis, F., Patton J., Percequillo, A., & Weksler, M. 2016. Dasyprocta azaraeThe IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T6278A22198654. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-2.RLTS.T6278A22198654.en. Accessed on 19 April 2022.

Yorkshire Wildlife Park. 2022. Agouti. [online] Available at: <https://www.yorkshirewildlifepark.com/things-to-do/animals/agouti/> [Accessed 19 April 2022].

Animals, A., 2022. Azara's agouti – Newquay Zoo. [online] Newquay Zoo. Available at: <https://www.newquayzoo.org.uk/animals-az/agouti-azaras/> [Accessed 19 April 2022].

Welsh Mountain Zoo. 2022. Azara's Agouti. [online] Available at: <https://www.welshmountainzoo.org/animals/azara-agouti> [Accessed 19 April 2022].

Edinburgh Zoo. 2022. Azara's Agouti | Edinburgh Zoo. [online] Available at: <https://www.edinburghzoo.org.uk/animals-and-experiences/animals/azaras-agouti/> [Accessed 19 April 2022].

Folly Farm. 2022. Azara's agouti – fun facts and information for kids. [online] Available at: <https://www.folly-farm.co.uk/zoo/meet-the-zoo-animals/azaras-agouti/> [Accessed 19 April 2022].

Batterseaparkzoo.co.uk. 2022. Azara’s Agouti. [online] Available at: <https://www.batterseaparkzoo.co.uk/animals/mammals/azara-s-agouti/> [Accessed 19 April 2022].

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