The Desmarest’s Hutia (Capromys pilorides) is a mammal in the Echimyidae family of rodents. It is also known as the Cuban Hutia.
The Desmarest’s Hutia is a short, stocky animal with short legs, and looks like a big hairy rat with a heavy rear end. It has thick, coarse fur ranging from black to brown, often with light-brown to reddish fur on its rump, near its tail, and on the crown of its head. It has small ears, small dark eyes, and a dark nose with dark whiskers. It has five toes with large, black claws.
It moves slowly with a waddle, but it can also hop if startled.
It grows to 31-60 centimetres (12-24 inches) long. Its tail measures 14-29 centimetres (6-11 inches) long.
It is endemic to Cuba. It is Cuba’s largest mammal. It is a protected species in Cuba.
The Desmarest’s Hutia lives in a wide range of habitats, from mangroves to inland semi-arid regions. Their numbers are declining in the mountainous regions of Cuba.
It is diurnal, more active during the day. Unlike most rodents, it does not live in a burrow underground. At night, it rests in tree hollows or in rock crevices.
It is omnivorous, eating bark, leaves, fruit, and sometimes lizards.
It usually lives in pairs, but it can be solitary or found in small groups. The female is pregnant for 110-140 days before giving birth to 1-3 live young. The babies are precocial, which means that they are born with fur, their eyes are open, and they can walk. They stop feeding from their mother after about 5 months.
In captivity, the Desmarest’s Hutia lives for 8-11 years.
Location of photographs: Paris Zoo, France
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM