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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

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Maximum longevity: 13.7 years (captivity)
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Behavior

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One social interactive behavior that has been observed in Roatán Island agoutis is muzzling. Another is fleeing with rump hairs erected, which is classified as a conflict behavior. Odor, thumping, and vocalizations are also important forms of communication in Central American agoutis, which can reasonably be inferred as important to D. ruatanica as well.

Communication Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

Other Communication Modes: scent marks

Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

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Hill, L. 2009. "Dasyprocta ruatanica" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Dasyprocta_ruatanica.html
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Laurinda Hill, University of Alaska Fairbanks
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Link Olson, University of Alaska Fairbanks
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Conservation Status

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Roatán Island agoutis are classified as Endangered by IUCN due to its small range, ongoing habitat loss, habitat degradation, and hunting. Roatán Island agoutis occur in two protected areas, but hunting still occurs on Roatán Island.

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: appendix i

State of Michigan List: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: endangered

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Hill, L. 2009. "Dasyprocta ruatanica" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Dasyprocta_ruatanica.html
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Laurinda Hill, University of Alaska Fairbanks
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Link Olson, University of Alaska Fairbanks
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Benefits

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Other than using some of the foods put out for domestic fowl, there are no known negative impacts on humans.

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Hill, L. 2009. "Dasyprocta ruatanica" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Dasyprocta_ruatanica.html
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Laurinda Hill, University of Alaska Fairbanks
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Link Olson, University of Alaska Fairbanks
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Benefits

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Based on studies of Dasyprocta punctata and Dasyprocta mexicana, it has been suggested that D. ruatanica and other agoutis could be bred in captivity as a food source for humans. It has also been suggested that agoutis may be an ecotourist attraction.

Positive Impacts: food ; ecotourism

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Hill, L. 2009. "Dasyprocta ruatanica" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Dasyprocta_ruatanica.html
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Laurinda Hill, University of Alaska Fairbanks
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Link Olson, University of Alaska Fairbanks
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Associations

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Agoutis in general seem to be important in the dispersal of plant seeds through the habit of scatterhoarding, which is the practice of caching food in scattered ground surface caches.

Ecosystem Impact: disperses seeds

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Hill, L. 2009. "Dasyprocta ruatanica" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Dasyprocta_ruatanica.html
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Laurinda Hill, University of Alaska Fairbanks
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Link Olson, University of Alaska Fairbanks
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Trophic Strategy

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Roatan Island agoutis are mostly frugivorous. Foods on Fantasy island include coconuts (Cocos nucifera), hibiscus flowers, almonds (Terminalia sp.) and Pentaclethre pods. They have also been observed feeding on rice, oranges, and corn kernels intended for domestic fowl. Like other agouti species, they dig holes for caching food.

Plant Foods: seeds, grains, and nuts; fruit; flowers

Foraging Behavior: stores or caches food

Primary Diet: herbivore (Frugivore )

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Hill, L. 2009. "Dasyprocta ruatanica" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Dasyprocta_ruatanica.html
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Laurinda Hill, University of Alaska Fairbanks
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Link Olson, University of Alaska Fairbanks
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Distribution

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Dasyprocta ruatanica is endemic to Roatán Island, which is approximately 48 kilometers off the coast of Honduras. A population occurs on Fantasy Island, which is about 30 meters off the middle south shore of Roatán Island. Roatán Island is a fault block, so it is unlikely that this species populated the island via land bridge. The original human inhabitants of the island, Payans, used agoutis as a food source, so this species was probably either there before the natives or brought with them.

Biogeographic Regions: neotropical (Native )

Other Geographic Terms: island endemic

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Hill, L. 2009. "Dasyprocta ruatanica" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Dasyprocta_ruatanica.html
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Laurinda Hill, University of Alaska Fairbanks
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Link Olson, University of Alaska Fairbanks
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Habitat

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Dasyprocta ruatanica is found in brushy, tropical scrub forests. Because of human development, most of the scrub forest that still exists on Roatán Island is on mountains. The highest point on Roatán Island is about 274 meters (900 feet) above sea level. On Fantasy Island, D. ruatanica is common on a tree-covered hill. Among the tree species present are Casuarina equisetifolia, Cocos nucifera, Pentaclethra, Swietenia, and Thrinax. Dasyprocta ruatanica utilizes patches of bamboo for sleeping. On Fantasy Island, D. ruatanica can also be found using the space under hotel buildings.

Range elevation: 0 to 274 m.

Habitat Regions: tropical ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: forest ; scrub forest

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Hill, L. 2009. "Dasyprocta ruatanica" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Dasyprocta_ruatanica.html
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Laurinda Hill, University of Alaska Fairbanks
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Link Olson, University of Alaska Fairbanks
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Life Expectancy

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The only lifespan information available for Dasyprocta ruatanica is that individuals have reached the age of 13.7 years in captivity.

Range lifespan
Status: captivity:
13.7 (high) years.

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Hill, L. 2009. "Dasyprocta ruatanica" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Dasyprocta_ruatanica.html
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Laurinda Hill, University of Alaska Fairbanks
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Link Olson, University of Alaska Fairbanks
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Morphology

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Roatán Island agoutis, as well as other agoutis, look like large, long-legged guinea pigs. The head and body of an adult can be from 32 to 64 cm (12.6 to 25.2 in) long and weight between 0.6 and 4 kg (1.3 to 8.8 lb). They are smaller than closely related Central American agoutis (Dasyprocta punctata). The ears are naked and the tail is very short. Agoutis have 5 toes on their front feet and 3 on the hind feet. They have a digitigrade foot posture. The fur is orange-brown and hairs are annulated to the root. The ventral surface is like the back, but slightly more olive-colored. There is a white spot on the chin and a yellow patch in the middle of the belly. The body color darkens along the limbs to a dark brown color on the feet.

Range mass: 0.6 to 4 kg.

Range length: 32 to 64 cm.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: sexes alike

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Hill, L. 2009. "Dasyprocta ruatanica" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Dasyprocta_ruatanica.html
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Laurinda Hill, University of Alaska Fairbanks
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Link Olson, University of Alaska Fairbanks
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Associations

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On Fantasy Island there are no native carnivores. On Roatán Island humans are known to hunt agoutis for food. Unlike Central American agoutis, Roatán Island agoutis have not been observed digging burrows. Smythe (1983) suggested that in Central American agoutis, holes were dug as a method of predator avoidance. Lack of holes suggests that there are no natural predators for Roatán Island agoutis. However, these agoutis do raise their rump hairs when fleeing a threat, which may be a defense against being bitten by predators or conspecifics.

Anti-predator Adaptations: cryptic

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Hill, L. 2009. "Dasyprocta ruatanica" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Dasyprocta_ruatanica.html
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Laurinda Hill, University of Alaska Fairbanks
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Link Olson, University of Alaska Fairbanks
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Reproduction

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Little is known about the mating in Roatán Island agoutis. Central American agoutis (Dasyprocta punctata) form monogamous pair bonds and can breed year round.

Not much is known about reproduction in Roatán Island agoutis specifically. Some information may be inferred from their close relatives, Central American agoutis. Central American agoutis reach reproductive age at about 6 months old, but this can vary based on food availability and body size. Gestation is about 3.5 months long at which time 1 to 2 young are born.

Breeding interval: Roatan Island agoutis can breed year round.

Range number of offspring: 1 to 2.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; year-round breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; viviparous ; post-partum estrous

Little is known about the extent of parental investment in Roatán Island agoutis. Juveniles of about two-thirds of the mother’s size have been observed participating in leading/following behaviors with the mother. At this size, mothers tend to back away when offspring try to nurse. In Cental American agoutis and other agouti species, females usually raise one or two precocial young. They can be observed grooming and bringing food to their young. For about the first two weeks the offspring stay in a small burrow while the mother goes foraging. However, Roatán Island agoutis have not been observed digging or using burrows.

Parental Investment: precocial ; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-independence (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female)

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Hill, L. 2009. "Dasyprocta ruatanica" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Dasyprocta_ruatanica.html
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Laurinda Hill, University of Alaska Fairbanks
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Link Olson, University of Alaska Fairbanks
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Ruatan Island agouti

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The Ruatan Island agouti (Dasyprocta ruatanica), also called the Roatán Island agouti, is a species of agouti in the family Dasyproctidae. It is endemic to the island of Roatán, off the north coast of Honduras, and is threatened by habitat loss and hunting.[1] There are no known subspecies.

Description

Ruatan Island agoutis closely resemble the widespread Central American agoutis, but are noticeably smaller in size, being only around 44 cm (17 in) in head-body length. Their fur is orange brown over their entire bodies, fading to a paler, olivaceous shade on the underparts, and with grizzled black ticking over their backs. There is a white spot on the chin, and a yellowish patch on the belly. Unlike the naked ears of Central American agoutis, those of the Ruatan Island species bear a few dark hairs.[2]

The overall colour is said to be richer than that of Central American agoutis, although the differences are slight, so are less reliable than body size in distinguishing the two species.[2]

Behaviour

The animals inhabit brushy scrub forest across the island of Roatán, where they feed on almonds, coconuts, hibiscus, and Pentaclethra pods. As the tourist industry has grown on their native island, hotels and other buildings are encroaching on their native habitat. While some remain in developed areas, living under hotel buildings and feeding off chicken grain and similar resources, most are now found in the hilly interior of the island, away from the coast.[3] From the few studies conducted on the animal, they appear to be active both day and night, and are not territorial. They are timid, and flee at the sight of humans.[2]

References

  1. ^ a b Schipper, J.; Emmons, L.; Woodman, N.; Timm, R. & McCarthy, T. (2008). "Dasyprocta ruatanica". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2008. Retrieved 5 January 2009.old-form url
  2. ^ a b c Lee, T.E.; et al. (2006). "Dasyprocta ruatanica". Mammalian Species. 800: Number 800: pp. 1–3. doi:10.1644/800.1.
  3. ^ Lee, T.E.; et al. (2000). "The natural history of the Roatán Island agouti (Dasyprocta ruatanica): a study of behavior, diet and description of habitat". Texas Journal of Science. 52 (2): 159–164.
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Ruatan Island agouti: Brief Summary

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The Ruatan Island agouti (Dasyprocta ruatanica), also called the Roatán Island agouti, is a species of agouti in the family Dasyproctidae. It is endemic to the island of Roatán, off the north coast of Honduras, and is threatened by habitat loss and hunting. There are no known subspecies.

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