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Seeing double at Stone Zoo with births of red-rumped agoutis

AgoutimontageVisitors to Stone Zoo will notice two new furry faces with the recent birth of red-rumped agouti twins.

The twins, whose sexes are not yet known, were born on September 30. They can be seen on exhibit with their parents Fernanda and Habanero. Red-rumped agoutis, named for the reddish fur that covers their backsides, live in pairs or small family groups consisting of a mating pair and their offspring. Including the new twins, Stone Zoo is home to five red-rumped agoutis.

“We are thrilled to share the news of these exciting births,” said John Linehan, Zoo New England President and CEO. “Although they are small in stature, these animals play a big role in healthy ecosystems by acting as seed dispersers. As our visitors watch the twins grow, we hope they will learn more about these fascinating little mammals.”

Red-rumped agoutis, which weigh between 6 and 13 pounds, are native to French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname, Trinadad and Tobago. While they prefer forest environments, they can also be found in thick brush and savannahs. Their diet consists of seeds, fruits, roots and leaves. When food is abundant, they will bury it to save for a time when food is scarce. In doing so, red-rumped agoutis serve as important seed dispersers for many trees including Brazilian nut trees.

Zoo New England participates in the Red-Rumped Agouti Species Survival Plan, which is a cooperative inter-zoo program, coordinated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. SPPs are designed to maintain genetically diverse and demographically stable captive populations of species. These births are a result of a recommended breeding.

The red-rumped agouti twins are the third set of twins born at Stone Zoo since late July. On July 26, markhor (an endangered Asian mountain goat species) twins were born, and on August 25 rock hyrax twins were born. All of these new additions can be seen on exhibit.

Learn more about red-rumped agoutis.

Photos courtesy of Bridget Collins-Lyman