By NICAULY HERNANDEZ, age 8

The Hispaniolan hutia looks like a mix between a large guinea pig, a small groundhog and a rat. PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons
The Hispaniolan hutia looks like a mix between a large guinea pig, a small groundhog and a rat. PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons

The Hispaniolan hutia (Plagiodontia aedium) is also known as the “zagouti” or “jutía” in Spanish. It is the only species of hutia still alive and can be found on the island of Hispaniola, which is shared by the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

The Hispaniolan hutia looks like a mix between a large guinea pig, a small groundhog and a rat. Typically this animal weighs around three pounds and is about a foot long, with a six-inch tail. Hutias live in the forest, but while some prefer to dig burrows under rocks and trees with their sharp claws, others prefer to live in holes up in the trees.

Did You Know?

  • Both the hind feet and the fore (front) feet of the hutia have five toes, with sharp claws on every toe except for the thumb.
  • Hutias are endangered due to hunting, deforestation and the introduction of the mongoose, its main predator, to Hispaniola.
  • Hutias are nocturnal, which means they are more active at night.
  • They live in pairs as female and male couples, although two to three couples often share the same burrow system.