One of the many glorious things about living in Gamboa is the fruiting tropical trees. In any given garden in Gamboa, you may find papaya, mango, pineapple, coconut, maranon (cashew trees), avocados and more. Avocados are my favourite, and in June, the heavy fruits fall from the trees in mass quantities. There is one catch though, you must beat the agoutis to them.
|Central American Agouti, Dasyprocta punctata|
Agoutis are (normally) rather shy members of the rodent family, and several species are found throughout Central and South America. In other places I have been such as Peru and Ecuador, they are seldomly seen, quietly moving across the forest floor and eating seeds and fruits they seek out. They resemble a small Capybaras, with a rounded snout, short ears, short tail and thin peg-like legs. But here in Gamboa and central Panama, agoutis are very common and remind me more of our neighbourhood squirrels back at home in Canada. They graze in the gardens and sports fields. They chase each other around obstacle courses of trees and street signs. The sit on their haunches in the middle of the streets and eat fruits. They are quite the sight. They also are very good at seeking out fallen avocados.
So these days, as the avocados are dropping daily from the trees in my backyard, I am keeping a close ear open. As soon as I hear one fall, I must get to it before the agoutis do. If I'm tied up with something and can't make it out there right away, I will lose my chance. By the time I get out there, it may already be partially eaten by the cheeky agoutis!