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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

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Maximum longevity: 13.5 years (captivity) Observations: One wild born specimen was about 13.5 years of age when it died in captivity (Richard Weigl 2005).
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The fate of the Jamaican hutia appears to be grim, but their habitats may be preserved. A National Park system has been proposed which would include much of the native habitat of the species. A captive breeding program is also underway with reintroduction planned in the near future (Anderson, Jones et al. 1984). In an effort to raise conservation awareness, Jamaica issued a set of four postage stamps featuring hutias (Anderson et al. 1983).

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Raffo, E. 2000. "Geocapromys brownii" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Geocapromys_brownii.html
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Erica Raffo, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Behavior

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Perception Channels: tactile ; chemical

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Raffo, E. 2000. "Geocapromys brownii" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Geocapromys_brownii.html
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Erica Raffo, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Conservation Status

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The IUCN had classified G. brownii as vulnerable. There has been concern that Jamaican hutias may soon be wiped out because of human activities. A few of its fellow species have already gone extinct from other Caribbean islands. In the past 30 years, this species has declined drastically due to human activities. Hutias are protected under Jamaica's Wildlife Protection Act of 1945, but it has not been enforced and the hunting continues. This species continues to decline because of the demand for agricultural lands. Mongooses also have been introduced to the region and have been partly to blame for the popululation losses (Anderson et al. 1983).

CITES: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: vulnerable

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Raffo, E. 2000. "Geocapromys brownii" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Geocapromys_brownii.html
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Erica Raffo, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Benefits

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Jamaican hutias can inflict considerable damage to fruit, bark, and foliage. But there have not been any recorded complaints of damage to commercial or food crops (Anderson, Jones et al. 1984).

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Raffo, E. 2000. "Geocapromys brownii" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Geocapromys_brownii.html
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Erica Raffo, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Benefits

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Jamaican hutias are still used as a food source by local peoples. They are widely hunted by means of traps or dogs (Parker 1990).

Positive Impacts: food

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Raffo, E. 2000. "Geocapromys brownii" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Geocapromys_brownii.html
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Erica Raffo, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Trophic Strategy

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Jamaican hutias are nocturnal foragers. These herbivores feed on numerous plant species and plant parts. They scour large expanses of land for any exposed roots, bark, shoots, and fruit. Geocapromys brownii also eat the foliage from a great variety of plant species (Anderson et al. 1983).

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Raffo, E. 2000. "Geocapromys brownii" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Geocapromys_brownii.html
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Erica Raffo, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Distribution

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Geocapromys brownii, commonly known as the Jamaican hutia, is restricted to the interior regions of the Caribbean island of Jamaica.

Biogeographic Regions: neotropical (Native )

Other Geographic Terms: island endemic

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Raffo, E. 2000. "Geocapromys brownii" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Geocapromys_brownii.html
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Erica Raffo, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Habitat

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The Jamaican hutia prefers to live on exposed sites usually made of limestone. Geocapromys brownii will fashion homes out of natural crevices or tunnels in the rock. In captivity, they have shown that they do not build nests, but prefer empty, enclosed spaces. At night, Jamaican hutias will move through the shrubby areas, foraging for food (Anderson et al. 1983).

Terrestrial Biomes: scrub forest

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Raffo, E. 2000. "Geocapromys brownii" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Geocapromys_brownii.html
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Erica Raffo, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Life Expectancy

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Average lifespan
Status: captivity:
8.3 years.

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Raffo, E. 2000. "Geocapromys brownii" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Geocapromys_brownii.html
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Erica Raffo, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Morphology

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These large rodents have a body length of 330 to 445 mm. Geocapromys brownii have short, nearly vestigial tails between 35 and 64 mm. in length (Nowak 1999). They have the shortest tails of all of the hutias. Due to their massive heads and short necks and legs, Jamaican hutias take on a stout appearance. The fur on the back is thick and coarse, ranging in color from reddish-brown to almost black. The tail is scaly with tufts of black fur on its upper surface. The feet are covered in very rough, short black hair. The whiskers or vibrassae are long and the ears short.

Geocapromys brownii have the largest skulls of all of the three species of hutia. The sagittal crest is fairly prominent. The jugal is also unusually wide and located far below the orbits.

The dental formula is 1/1, 0/0, 1/1, 3/3 (incisor, canine, premolar, and molar, respectively). The cheekteeth display a hypsodont occlusal pattern and are almost perfectly flat on their upper surfaces (Anderson et al. 1983).

Range mass: 1.000 to 2.000 kg.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; bilateral symmetry

Average basal metabolic rate: 4.11 W.

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Raffo, E. 2000. "Geocapromys brownii" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Geocapromys_brownii.html
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Erica Raffo, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Reproduction

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Geocapromys brownii have been known to breed throughout the year in the wild, producing two to three litters annually. With a gestation period of about 123 days, females produce an average of 1.49 offspring per litter (Anderson et al. 1983). Jamaican hutias will most commonly have between one and two offspring, but litters of three have been reported. Upon their birth, the infants are quite capable. It has been reported that after the first 30 hours of life, the infants are already eating solid foods (Nowak 1999). A female's estrous cycle lasts about 10 days (Anderson, Jones et al. 1984). Males leave scent-marks that may play a role in breeding, but little information exists on reproduction (Anderson et al. 1983).

Range number of offspring: 1 to 3.

Average number of offspring: 1.49.

Average gestation period: 123 days.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; year-round breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; viviparous

Average gestation period: 123 days.

Average number of offspring: 2.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
Sex: female:
365 days.

Parental Investment: precocial

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Raffo, E. 2000. "Geocapromys brownii" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Geocapromys_brownii.html
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Erica Raffo, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Jamaican coney

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The Jamaican coney (Geocapromys brownii), also known as the Jamaican hutia and the Browns hutia, is a hutia endemic to Jamaica. It is in the order Rodentia and the family Capromyidae. It is the only extant native land mammal on Jamaica.

Description

The Jamaican coney is generally about the size of a cottontail rabbit, and mature adults usually weigh between 1 and 2 kg.[2] It is reddish brown/yellowish brown in colour, and ranges in size from about 330 to 445 mm in length. It has the smallest tail of all the species in the genus (approximately 45mm). It has a large head (the largest in the genus), short legs, short tail, and short ears and neck, which gives it a somewhat squat appearance. It has large, robust incisors and hypsodont cheekteeth.[2]

Distribution and habitat

G. brownii only occurs in Jamaica, mainly in the more remote locations and mountainous regions. They have been found from as far east as the John Crow and Blue Mountains of Portland and the St. Thomas Parishes in the east of the island, to as far west as the Harris Savannah and the Brazilletto Mountains in Clarendon Parish, Jamaica.[2]

Ecology and behaviour

Jamaican hutias are almost exclusively nocturnal mammals. As night foragers, they feed on a large variety of food sources, including fruits, exposed roots, bark, and the foliage from many different plant species.[2] The IUCN has classified it as an endangered species.

Observations of captive specimens note that Jamaican hutias do not build their own nests. They have strong social interactions between related individuals, which can include mutual grooming, play, and soft vocalizations when not in physical contact which each other. They have a semi-plantigrade stance, and are excellent climbers and jumpers, often using their front incisors for grip and leverage.[2]

Reproduction

Little is known of how the Jamaican hutia reproduces in the wild, but observations from captive specimens show that the females reach maturity in about one year, while males tend to reach maturity at a somewhat older age.[2] Females usually give birth and average of 2 litters per year, with about two offspring per litter. The average gestation period is 123 days. The young are born extremely precocial, and can walk at birth as well as eat adult foods within about 30 hours of birth.[2]

References

  1. ^ Kennerley, R.; Turvey, S.T. & Young, R. (2018). "Geocapromys brownii". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2018: e.T9001A22186569. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2018-1.RLTS.T9001A22186569.en. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g 'Anderson, Sidney. "Geocapromys brownii" (PDF). American Society of Mammalogists. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2014-04-22.
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Jamaican coney: Brief Summary

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The Jamaican coney (Geocapromys brownii), also known as the Jamaican hutia and the Browns hutia, is a hutia endemic to Jamaica. It is in the order Rodentia and the family Capromyidae. It is the only extant native land mammal on Jamaica.

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