The Virtual Rainforest
A Neotropical Rainforest
Rainforest Research


Tree Seedlings

Forest Flowers



Army Ants

Bullet Ants
Leafcutter Ants

Rhinoceros Beetle

Swallowtail Butterfly



Keel-billed Toucan

Howler Monkeys

White-faced Monkeys

Three-toed Sloth
Baird's Tapir
White-lipped Peccary
Reptiles and Amphibians:
Red-eyed Tree Frog
Poison Dart Frog
Helmeted Iguana
Eyelash Viper
Terciopelo Viper
Spectacled Caiman
American Crocodile
Human Systems:
Rainforest Boy
Rainforest Girl
Traditional Ecological Knowledge
Rainforest Research

About the Authors





Large Rainforest Rodents

Central American Agouti (Dasyprocta punctata )
Central American Agouti

The Agouti is a tropical rodent that looks to most North Americans to be a cross between a rabbit and a squirrel.

Agoutis are very important seed predators but also act as dispersers. They feed on seeds from trees and will transport and bury seeds in "caches," much like squirrels do in the temperate forests. They go back to dig up some of the seeds, but forget about others. The forgotten seeds become the next generation of trees in the rainforest.

In the forests of Nicaragua's and Costa Rica's Caribbean Coast, Agoutis are the most abundant large rodent.

Paca Photographed by Bushnell Trophy CamPaca (Cuniculus paca)

The paca has a similar shape to the agouti but is a bit larger and usually only comes out at night. What distinguishes them most is that the Paca has creamy white spots on its brown body and a white belly.

Like the agouti, it eats a lot of seeds. Pacas are a favorite prey for jaguars and pumas, and their meat is prized by local hunters. With so many things wanting to eat them, Pacas are hard to see in the rainforest. If you want to see one, you should go out after dark. The graph below shows when they are most active.




The graph shown on the left tells the story of how the Agouti and Paca split up the day and night. The Agouti is DIURNAL (daytime) and the Paca is NOCTURNAL (nighttime).






The Virtual Rainforest

Back to the Rainforest

Copyright Gerald R. Urquhart
Michigan State University

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Virtual Rainforest development supported by grant #0815966 from the
National Science Foundation

Center for Global Change and Earth Observation

Michigan State University