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Agoutis: Amazon kleptomania

Kurt Holle


Agoutis, like squirrels and chipmunks, love seeds.  2012 biologists knew this from observation. Even tourists knew this from observation: half the time you see this uber common rodent he´s either holding on to a seed, looking for one, gnawing it or digging a hole to find. Think of the prehistoric chipmunk of the Ice Age cartoons. 



Patrick Jansen and his team decided to radiotag 589 agouto-philiac seeds in Barro Colorado island to follow them around. To follow the seeds around, not the agoutis. 

Heres what he found out from the seeds agoutis cached (To cache – to store so as to be safe). 

  • More than half the seeds were moved from one cache to another – presumably stolen by other agoutis. 
  • One seed exchanged owners 30 and travelled a total of 750 meters. 
  • 14% of the seeds survived to germinate.


I´m thinking of submitting a proposal for a new agouti Latin name: Dasyoprocta kleptomania. 

As always – here´s the paper: Thieving rodents as substitute dispersers of megafaunal seeds 

And as usual, sign up for your free trial of the Amazoncam here and help us identify the Amazon wildlife that is on the photos taken by our 20 square kilometer grid of 78 cameras snapping away in the middle of the Amazon jungle. You can start practicing photo identification with our free illustrated plates of 172 Amazon Rainforest Animals

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