Fun Desmarest's Hutia Facts For Kids

Hannah Bowyer
Feb 29, 2024 By Hannah Bowyer
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Luca Demetriou
Fact-checked by Oluwapelumi Iwayemi
There are at least 20 species of Hutia, and this particular one can only be found in Cuba. However, 1/3 of all Hutias are already extinct.
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.5 Min

Desmarest's Hutia (Capromys Pilorides), also known as the Cuban Hutia or banana rat is the largest in size compared to all Hutia species. The Desmarest's Hutia is a rodent by definition, but don't be fooled, this type of rodent endemic to Cuba is actually quite friendly and harmless, and can only mostly be found on their preferred habitats like the coastal areas and mangroves of Cuban islands.

If you liked reading these fun Desmarest's Hutia facts and information, you may also want to check out articles about the Takin and the Naked Mole Rat.

Desmarest's Hutia Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Desmarest's Hutia?

The Desmarest's Hutia or Cuban Hutia is a type of Hutia, which are rodents (rodentia).

What class of animal does a Desmarest's Hutia belong to?

The Desmarest's Hutia or Cuban Hutia is a mammal.

How many Desmarest's Hutias are there in the world?

Although there are no exact recorded numbers for the population of the Cuban Hutia, populations tend to have more density in Cuban ground with abundant mountains and mangrove forests. They are abundant in the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in the Guantanamo Province, Isla de la Juventud, and are less abundant in Eastern Cuba.

Where does a Desmarest's Hutia live?

This Hutia species can only be found in Cuba, but are widespread in different areas of the biggest island in the Caribbean sea. They will not be found anywhere else in the world. However, subspecies and specimen of these rodents can be found in other countries, particularly in South America.

What is a Desmarest's Hutia's habitat?

The Cuban Hutias' habitats are usually montane cloud forests, mangrove forests, mountains, and arid coastal semi-deserts in Cuba.

Who do Desmarest's Hutias live with?

Although social, the Desmarest's Hutia is quite solitary with their living situation. At most, they love in pairs or small groups, usually with relatives or mates. They are not aggressive at all, neither within their species nor the other animals in their habitat.

How long does a Desmarest's Hutia live?

A Desmarest's Hutia typically lives at an average range of 8-11 years. The longevity of it's life would depend on whether it will be hunted by their predators or not. Otherwise, there isn't much danger to their wellbeing as food is readily available in their habitat.

How do they reproduce?

The Desmarest's Hutia has a gestation period that range from 120-126 days, and their breeding season is all year round. Most Cuban Hutias nest in rock crevices and their average litter size is 2-3. The average age of sexual maturity for both male and female Cuban Hutias is 304 days or approximately 10 months.

What is their conservation status?

The Cuban Hutias' conservation status is of the least concern, despite the fact that humans enjoy hunting them for their meat. However, areas in Cuba that are densely populated with the Capromys Pilorides are said to have had vegetation problems.

Desmarest's Hutia Fun Facts

What do Desmarest's Hutias look like?

Endemic to Cuba, The Desmarest's Hutia is known for its stocky body and large claws.

The Desmarest's Hutia (Capromys Pilorides) are considered the largest of all Hutia species, with short legs, sharp claws, and thick fur that is black, brown, or red in color, or a combination of all three, red being the most uncommon. They are also known for their complex stomach, which is divided into three compartments. Out of all rodents and similar species, they have the most complex stomach morphology. Their average basal metabolic rate is 3.375 W.

How cute are they?

Desmarest's Hutias are quite cute and do not look like typical rodents because of their stocky body, heavy weight, and noticeable size. They look more like squirrels or guinea pigs than rats.

How do they communicate?

This Cuban Hutia communicates with each other by scent marking. In fact, it is the most common form of communication among their species. They do this by urinating where the others members of their species reside.  Aside from scent marking, they are fond of "grooming" or tumbling around each other in a non-aggressive manner. They are naturally shy and thrive more in pairs than in a big group.

How big is a Desmarest's Hutia?

The Desmarest's Hutia is typically 31–60 cm (12–24 in) long and has a tail that is 14–29 cm (5.5–11.4 in) long.  They are said to have the same build as a dachshund and have more body mass compared to most rodents. They also do not hang around other species of animals.

How fast can a Desmarest's Hutia run?

Although there is no specific speed recorded for the Desmarest's Hutia, they can run very fast, especially when they are startled or if they are aware that they are being hunted by crocodiles or big predatory birds. They are also agile enough to climb branches so they can hide from animals that are hunting them, or have a better view of their prey which are typically reptiles.

How much does a Desmarest's Hutias weigh?

The Desmarest's Hutia (Capromys Pilorides) has an average weight of 2.8–8.5 kg (6.2–18.7 lb).

What are their male and female names of the species?

Just like all species of Hutias, there is no difference between the male and female names of Desmarest's Hutia.

What would you call a baby Desmarest's Hutias?

Just like all species of Hutias, there is no specific name for their young. It's safe to say they can just be called baby Desmarest's Hutias.

What do they eat?

Desmarest's Hutia are omnivores who feed on leaves, tree bark, and fruits. Occasionally, they also eat reptiles such as lizards and certain kinds of insects.

Are they poisonous?

Hutias are not known to be poisonous or aggressive. But if you are ever bitten by one, it would be a rare occurence and one should still follow standard procedures like having the bite checked by a medical professional or getting tetanous shots, much like if you are bitten by a dog, cat or any animals that aren't your pet.

Would they make a good pet?

They are exotic  by nature, but surprisingly, there have been several accounts and online articles about people in Cuba who has chosen to have a Desmarest's Hutia as a pet. According to those articles, they are quite easy to train from wild to domesticated. It makes sense, because when you take a close look at these mammals, they kind of resemble a hamster or ginuea pig, which are both popular house pets. Being omnivores, it is also quite easy to feed them, especially when you have an abundance of trees and plants on your backyard. Having a Desmarest's Hutia is like having a hamster who is as big as  a dog.

Did you know...

It is illegal to hunt for the Desmarest's Hutia in Cuba without a permit, but some people still hunt them down as their meat is said to be delicious and is usually made into a stew.

There is a legend that states that the Capromys Pilorides or Cuban Hutia is actually the first kind of meat Christopher Columbus had in the new world. If this is true, this is probably where human's inclination to eat them originated from, as they have been a stable food in Cuban diets ever since.

Although they rodents by definition, they are quite friendly, lovable and are even compared to guinea pigs.  

Are Desmarest's Hutias endangered?

According to scientists, Desmarest's Hutia is one of the few surviving subspecies of Hutia, and are not endangered despite the fact that they have been part of the Cuban diet for decades now as an ingredient for stew together with some nuts and honey. However, other  family and species of Hutia have been  wiped out by native islanders and early European colonists through vigorous hunting, while some Hutia species were driven to extinction by the destruction of their natural habitats like the burning of  forests.

How did the Desmarest's Hutias get it's name?

Desmarest's Hutia got it's name from Anseleme Gaetan Desmarest, a french zoologist and author who discovered and described the natural history of this particular species of Hutiabak in 1822. It's genus capromys is derived from two ancient greek words: kápros, meaning "pig or boar", and mûs, meaning "mouse or rat".

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals including Badger and Gopher.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our desmarest's hutia coloring pages.

Desmarest's Hutia Facts

What Did They Prey On?

Small reptiles like lizards and insects

What Type of Animal were they?

Omnivore

Average Litter Size?

2

How Much Did They Weigh?

6.2–18.7 lb (2.8–8.5 kg)

What habitat Do they Live In?

mangroves, islands, semi deserts

Where Do They Live?

cuba

How Long Were They?

12–24 in (31–60 cm)

How Tall Were They?

5.5–11.4 in (14–29 cm)

Class

Mammalia

Genus

Capromys

Family

Capromyidae

Scientific Name

Genus capromys pilorides

What Do They Look Like?

Black, brown and red

Skin Type

Fur

What Are Their Main Threats?

humans and bigger birds

What is their Conservation Status?

Least Concern
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Written by Hannah Bowyer

Bachelor of Communication specializing in Media Arts Production, Communication, and Media Studies

Hannah Bowyer picture

Hannah BowyerBachelor of Communication specializing in Media Arts Production, Communication, and Media Studies

A fitness enthusiast with a passion for helping people find their best selves, Hannah is a qualified personal trainer who is currently training to be a yoga instructor. She is also knowledgeable about mindfulness and meditation. Hannah has lived and worked in many different countries across Asia and the Americas over the last four years, and loves to write about her travels. Her dynamic nature is reflected in her love for running, whether it's towards a plane or a personal best.

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