Large Rainforest Rodents
Central American Agouti (Dasyprocta punctata )
The Agouti is a tropical
rodent that looks to most North Americans to be a cross between a rabbit and
Agoutis are very
important seed predators but also act as dispersers. They feed on seeds from trees and will transport
and bury seeds in "caches," much like squirrels do in the temperate
forests. They go back to dig up some of the seeds, but forget about others.
The forgotten seeds become the next generation of trees in the rainforest.
In the forests of Nicaragua's and Costa Rica's Caribbean Coast, Agoutis are the most abundant large rodent.
Paca (Cuniculus paca)
The paca has a similar shape to the agouti but is a bit larger and usually only comes out at night. What distinguishes them most is that the Paca has creamy white spots on its brown body and a white belly.
Like the agouti, it eats a lot of seeds. Pacas are a favorite prey for jaguars and pumas, and their meat is prized by local hunters. With so many things wanting to eat them, Pacas are hard to see in the rainforest. If you want to see one, you should go out after dark. The graph below shows when they are most active.
The graph shown on the left tells the story of how the Agouti and Paca split up the day and night. The Agouti is DIURNAL (daytime) and the Paca is NOCTURNAL (nighttime).