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They are related to guinea pigs and look quite similar but have longer legs. The species vary in color from tawny to dark brown with lighter underparts. Their body is covered with coarse hair which is raised when alarmed. They are about 20 in. in length with a short hairless tail. Agoutis have five front and three hind toes; the first toe is very small. The tail is very short or non-existent and hairless. The molar teeth have cylindrical crowns, with several islands and a single lateral fold of enamel. Agoutis may grow to be up to 60 cm in length and 4 kg in weight. Most species have a brown back and a whitish or buffy belly; the fur may have a glossy appearance and then glimmers in an orange colour. Reports differ as to whether they are diurnal or nocturnal animals.
Agoutis are found in forest and wooded areas in Middle and South America. Their habitat includes rainforests, savannas and, nowadays, cultivated fields, depending on the species. They conceal themselves at night in hollow tree-trunks or in burrows among roots.
Spotted on Mar 7, 2011
Submitted on Mar 21, 2011