Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

agouti (sometimes spelt aguti), any of a number of Dasyprocta spp, C. and S. American rodents of the family Dasyproctidae. The common (or golden) agouti is found most abundantly in the forests of Guiana, Brazil, and N. Peru but the range of the genus extends northwards through C. America to Mexico; one species, D. cristata, is found in the W. Indies. The name agouti comes from the Tupi-Guaraní name, aquti.

Agoutis are only about 50 cm (20") long overall but do not have much of a tail, so there is quite a bit of body, weighing around 3.5 kg (nearly 8 lb) and giving plenty to eat. They are nocturnal. Burton (1962) reports that: ‘A hunter’s trick is to toss stones into [the] air; these falling to [the] ground sound like falling fruit to agutis, which come out to feed.’ Fruit is the animal’s favourite food but it also eats vegetable matter, leaves, roots of ferns, etc.