Sereque: the cutest Mexican rodent you’ll ever meetBy Dania Vargas Austryjak
Find it from Veracruz to Quintana Roo
The Sereque, as it is known in Mexico, commonly known as agouti [ah GOO tee], is a medium-sized mammal with a habitat that ranges from from Mexico to South America and reminds of different animals. Some might think is a strange-looking pig, a large guinea pig, or that it’s even a relative of the squirrel. But this cute little animal actually belongs to the family of rodents.
There are 11 species of agoutis, two of which are in Mexico: the Mexican agouti and the Central American agouti. Unfortunately, the Mexican species is critically endangered due to loss of habitat, and can be found in the states of Veracruz, Oaxaca, Chiapas and Tabasco.
Agoutis are charming little animals. They have peculiar characteristics that draw attention and curiosity. They are covered with coarse hair, which grows longer at the rump. The hair is covered with an oily substance that provides protection from the rain. The color of the hair may vary from orange, yellow, reddish, greenish, gray and usually grizzled with black.
Another peculiar characteristic of these little creatures is that their feet differ from those of other rodents. They have 5 toes on their front feet and three on their posterior feet which give them a particular way of walking. They usually stand on the back feet to feed, similar to the way squirrels eat.
Speaking of food, the sereque loves eating fallen fruit, and nuts, which come in close second. These animals also store their extra food, burying it for emergencies. If they don’t come back for it, it is most likely that that fruit or nut will grow into a tree. In fact, they are great seed dispensers, helping plant other trees.
When in their natural habitat, agoutis must face predators such as coatis, jaguars and ocelots. You would never guess what they are capable of. These animals, which can measure up to 2 feet long and weigh up to 8.8 lbs., can escape predators by running or jumping up to 6 feet, spin around, land and shoot out in the opposite position; quite an amazing tactic for such a calm and peaceful-looking creature.
These cute rodents can be seen in their natural state in southern states of Mexico, including Quintana Roo and Yucatan. They are quite calm and appear friendly. Just remember they are wild animals and must be treated as such. Some of them might even pose for some photos, as they do enjoy attention.
Always remember to respect their habitats, and try not to feed them or pet them. We don’t know how they could react, but odds are you’ll probably at least be able to get a cute photo or video to remember these cute Mexican rodents.
Original Image: “Title unknown” by Smithsonian's National Zoo, used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0, via Flickr.
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