The acouchis (genus Myoprocta) are rodents belonging to the Dasyproctidae family from Amazonia. They are generally smaller than the common agoutis and have a very short tail (5 to 7 cm), while the common agoutis lack a tail. For this reason the acouchis are also called tailed agoutis.
There are at least two species—the Red Acouchi (Myoprocta acouchy) in the Guianan Subregion of Amazonia and nearby parts of Brazil, and the Green Acouchi (Myoprocta pratti) in western Amazonia. The two differ in coloration and other characteristics. The taxonomy of the genus has historically been confused, with some authors applying the acouchy name to the Green Acouchi, in which case the Red Acouchi is called Myoprocta exilis. Although this issue has now been resolved, other problems remain; in particular, the Green Acouchi may in fact include more than one species.
They are coloured brown or greenish, but with bright orange or red parts of the head. Often acouchis live in riverbanks, where they dig holes. Like the common agoutis, but unlike the much larger pacas, acouchis are active at day and feed on fruit. In fact, acouchis will often respond to the sound of ripe fruit falling from trees by frenziedly running towards what they hope will be their next tasty meal.
Acouchis depend on their tails to convey their willingness and readiness to mate. Confident, ready males will hold their tails erect and begin to wag them, whereas the more timid, but still aroused, males will wag their tails in a downward position. Females will signal their interest by erecting their tails while simultaneously arching their backs downward. The typical result of all this tail manipulation is a litter of two little acouchis in about three months' time.
- Voss, R.S., Lunde, D.P. & Simmons, N.B. 2001. Mammals of Paracou, French Guiana: a Neotropical lowland rainforest fauna. Part 2. Nonvolant species. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 263:1-236.
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