The New International Encyclopædia/Hutia

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search

HUTIA, ōō-tē'ȧ (Sp., from the native name). A West Indian rodent or hog-rat, of the family Octodontidæ, differing from rats in having four grinders on each side in each jaw, with flat crowns. The tail is round and slightly hairy, and is used for support in sitting erect, as by kangaroos, and for aid in climbing trees. They make much use of their fore paws as hands. They are closely allied to the coypu (q.v.), but are not aquatic, and make their home in the woods. The best-known species is the hutia-couga (Capromys pilorides) of Cuba, which is about 22 inches long to the root of the tail. The fur is long, coarse, and yellowish brown, with the paws and ears blackish. Another Cuban species is the hutia-carabali (Capromys prehensilis), the tip of whose tail is prehensile. The hutia-couga is a skillful climber, and lives in dense forests. Its food is chiefly fruits, leaves, and bark; but it also eats the flesh of small animals, particularly that of a kind of lizard. It is easily tamed, and the Cubans consider its flesh a delicacy, for which reason it is much hunted by the natives. The smaller hutia-carabali is said to live chiefly in the tops of trees.

Jamaica has a short-tailed hutia (Capromys brachyurus) (see Plate of Cavies, etc.), locally called ‘coney,’ which has become rare; and Ingraham's hutia (Capromys Ingrahami) inhabits the Bahamas. Consult Poey, Memorias (Havana, 1860-62).