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
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