What I Am Not: An Agouti


Why did the agouti cross the road?

One of the animals we capybaras are most often confused with is an agouti. Agoutis are rodents and their range overlaps with the range of capybaras but we are not the same animal. In the photo above you can see a Panamanian agouti running. In the photo you can see some of the ways we look the same and some of the ways we look different.


Baby Caplin Rous running

There is a time in our lives when we capybaras are as small as adult agoutis. In the above photo, Caplin Rous is about two months old and the approximate size of an adult agouti, that is about eight pounds. Of course, Caplin didn’t stay that size just as I haven’t. At one hundred pounds or more, an adult capybara is much, much larger than an adult agouti.

Here are some ways we are the same:

  • Similar color
  • Both rodents
  • Three toes on the back feet
  • Cute ears
  • Humped back
  • We both have hoof like toenails on our back feet
  • We both have big rodent teeth
  • We are both cute
  • We both have underslung mouths
  • We are both herbivores
  • Humans eat both capybaras and agoutis

Some ways we are different:

  • Capybaras are much larger
  • Capybara legs are thicker and sturdier
  • Agoutis have five toes on their front feet and capybaras have only four
  • Agoutis have little hands on their front feet and capybara front paws are useless
  • Agoutis like to live in forest undergrowth and capybaras prefer grasslands with swampy areas
  • Agoutis eat fruit while capybaras eat mostly grass
  • Capybaras are great swimmers and agoutis not so much
  • Capybaras have blunt noses and agoutis have pointed noses
  • Capybaras live in herds, agoutis live in monogamous pairs
  • Agoutis have a tiny tail, capybaras have no tail or an even tinier one
  • Agoutis are slender while capybaras are stocky


If you see an animal sitting up like this, it is NOT a capybara

Agoutis can sit up and eat using their little paws. They can also groom themselves with their front paws, which is just crazy.


Does this agouti have a bite on his neck?

It is hard being a prey animal. Probably it is even harder for agoutis since they are so small. Plus they can’t jump into the water for safety.

Hey, did you notice the little pointy tail on that last photo? Capybaras have an even more useless tail. It isn’t even as big as that. Melly says that Caplin Rous’ tail just fell off one day and he never even noticed it.


An agouti at a puddle

Apparently even though they are not swimmers, agoutis don’t mind getting their paws wet.


Agoutis are slender rodents

YouTube Preview Image

A short video of wild agoutis in Panama

7 comments to What I Am Not: An Agouti

  • Sure would love to have a bunch…so cute

  • rosenatti

    Gari, your front paws are not useless. They help hold aloft your magnificent nose.

  • lynn

    So cute!!!
    What’s this abt Caplin’s tail falling off???
    This is the first time I’ve heard capys had tails!

  • Michelle

    This is very reminiscent of Bing’s “I am not a hamster” video. And guinea pigs are much more common than capybaras! Though I don’t think your average human knows what an agouti is, either. Rodent aficianados just need to be patient with the rest of the world who classifies all of them as “vermin”. Keep up the great outreach work, Gari!

  • Beverly Boher

    Gari, thank you for the great agouti information! I’d never heard of them before. They are cute, but they have nothing on you!

  • I can definitely see the resemblance, and how a mere human might be confused, but you can see in the picture the build is completely different. So interesting to learn that there is an animal called an agouti! My Biff’s color pattern is called “agouti,” that must be where the name comes from. What it means for him is that each individual strand of fur is banded with three colors: black, brown, and beige. In the wild, this coloration helped to camoflauge them. It’s very common in rabbits, especially in wild rabbits, and is also sometimes called “wild-type coloration.” You learn something new every day!

  • Rai

    Hello, Gari 🙂

    Thanks for the information.I think an Agouti is such a nice and beautiful creature (in Venezuela we use to call them ‘Picure’).As much as i like Agoutis my love for Capybaras is beyond sanity,lol.That and the fact you,Gari,are The King of Cuteness

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