The Bahamian hutia or Ingraham's hutia (Geocapromys ingrahami) is a species of rodent in the family Capromyidae. Geocapromys ingrahami is endemic to the Bahamas. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forest, subtropical or tropical dry shrubland, and rocky areas.
(J.A. Allen, 1891)
The Bahamian hutia is a rat-like rodent with a short tail and a body-length of up to 60 centimetres (24 in). Its fur varies in colour and can be black, brown, grey, white or reddish.
Distribution and habitatEdit
The Bahamian hutia is endemic to the Bahamas. It was believed to be extinct until 1966, when biologist Garrett Clough found a relic population on East Plana Cay, a small, uninhabited strip of land east of Long Island, Bahama, between Acklins Island and Mayaguana Island. The Plana Cays are the last natural habitat of the Bahamian hutia and are currently home to most of the remaining population. Colonist hutias were introduced into isolated parts of the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park in 1973 as a conservation measure.
The Bahamian hutia is a nocturnal species, remaining underground during the day. It can climb trees but mostly forages on or close to the ground, feeding on leaves, shoots, fruit, nuts and bark and occasionally insects or small lizards. It has been known to feed on seaweed.
Adults form lasting pair bonds and breeding can occur at any time of year. Up to four young are born after a gestation period of about four months. They are able to eat solid food after a few days and may stay as a family group for up to two years, by which time they are sexually mature.
Different species of hutia vary greatly in temperament, but biologist Garrett Clough described the Bahamian hutia as "a most peaceable rodent".
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 thought to have become extinct by 1600. This is thought to be due to land clearance rather than direct hunting.
As this rodent is known from only six locations, the International Union for Conservation of Nature has rated its conservation status as being "vulnerable". Its population, though small, is believed to be steady, but it could be threatened by adverse conditions such as a hurricane, or by the arrival on the islands of predators such as feral cats.
- Turvey, S. & Dávalos, L. (2008). "Geocapromys ingrahami". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2008: e.T9002A12949103. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2008.RLTS.T9002A12949103.en.
- Gramlich, Courtney (2001). "Geocapromys ingrahami: Bahamian hutia". Animal Diversity Web. Retrieved 4 August 2015.
- "Hungry for hutia? Our taste for Bahamas' "most peaceable rodent" shaped its diversity". eurekalert.org (Press release). Gainesville, FL: Florida Museum of Natural History. 28 January 2020.
- IUCN Directory of Neotropical Protected Areas. IUCN. 1982. p. 33. ISBN 978-0-907567-62-2.