THE BAHAMIAN HUTIA: ABACO’S EXTINCT RODENT


THE BAHAMIAN HUTIA  (Geocapromys ingrahami)

HUTIAS are cavy-like rodents of the Caribbean Islands. They range in size from 20 to 60 cm (8 to 24 in), and can weigh up to 7 kg (15 lb). Twenty species of hutia have been identified, of which half may now be extinct. Their tails vary from vestigial to prehensile. They have stout bodies and large heads. Most species are herbivorous, though some eat small animals. Instead of burrowing underground, they nest in trees or rock crevices. Of extant species, only a few are common; most have become vulnerable or endangered. In Cuba they are hunted for food, and are often cooked in a large pot with wild nuts and honey. One of the recipes is hutia stew: sauté with green peppers, onions, tomato sauce and lots of garlic. (Source: Wiki)

         Photo WWF/ G. Clough

The Bahamian species of Hutia is endemic to the Bahamas. It is listed as a vulnerable species. Its natural habitats are moist forests, dry shrubland and rocky areas. Hutias are a nocturnal species, remaining underground during the day. Two subspecies became extinct in modern times. The Crooked Island Hutia (G. i. irrectus) and the Great Abaco Hutia (G. i. abaconis) were mentioned by early European voyagers, and are believed to have become extinct by 1600. This is thought to be due to land clearance rather than direct hunting. However, they are found elsewhere in the Bahamas – the Exumas, for example.

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IT’S OFFICIAL: the extinct species listing

Great Abaco Hutia  Geocapromys ingrahami abaconis West Indies, Bahamas, Great Abaco Extinct in 1600

For more details, check out Rod Attrill’s excellent website, for which this is the relevant link: http://www.motygido.co.uk/bahamas_hutia.html  

STOP PRESS: THIS SMALL POST HAS RECEIVED A SURPRISINGLY LARGE NUMBER OF HITS – CAN ANYONE EXPLAIN WHY? 

NEW: HUTIA VIDEO (added Dec 2011)

Image added April 2012 (credit as annotated)

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