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An Agouti

An agouti ventures outside its burrow in Panama at night, when predators are out. Photo courtesy of Roland Kays.

For a rainforest animal like the agouti, life revolves around the tension between food and fear. While foraging for seeds from the black palm tree, the rabbit-sized rodent has to avoid hungry ocelots.

Living in an area where food is scarce greatly increases an agouti’s willingness to venture out of its burrow between sunset and sunrise, when the danger of being eaten by a nocturnal ocelot is four times greater, says Roland Kays, zoologist with NC State’s College of Natural Resources and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.