Who is Horace Hutia?
Hopefully, you’ve seen my exciting news that Curtis Curly-tail Hears a Hutia is published and ready to be enjoyed. But you’ve probably asked yourself who and what is Horace Hutia? Hutia. Pronounced: “hoo”, like the sound a Great Horned Owl makes, “tea,” like the beverage, and ”ya” like when you’re being informal with the word yes. Hoo-tea-ya.
Hutia are moderate sized rodents found only on Caribbean islands. Horace is a Bahamian hutia. He is an endemic, meaning he is unique to The Bahamas. His scientific name is Geocapromys ingrahami. What makes Horace and his Bahamian family so special is that they are the only land mammal native to the Bahamas. All the other land mammals were brought over by people. The Bahamas have bats, the Bahamian Lesser Funnel-eared Bat (Chilonatalus tumidifrons) but they aren’t considered “land” animals since they fly around and just hang out.
But like the bats, hutia are nocturnal, only coming out at night. They are herbivores or vegetarians eating leaves and twigs.
Historically, hutia lived on many islands or cays but in modern times they were only found on East Plana Cay. This is a limestone, semi-arid island with low-lying desert type shrubs. Hutia don’t need much water, they get it from the vegetation they eat. Only 5 miles long (eleven hundred acres), this is a very small island. Fortunately, hutia don’t mind living at a high density. They’re similar to big city dwellers, like in New York City or Miami. However, people were concerned that the hutia only lived on this one island. What if some calamity should befall them? There could be a hurricane, or introduced predators or a disease, which could kill off all the hutia. So some of the hutia were moved to other cays, like Warderick Wells in the Exuma Sea and land park, where I live.
The hutia were almost eaten to extinction. Humans were a major predator through the centuries along with the extinct Alco, a Lucayan domesticated dog, and Chickcharnie owl (Tyto pollens).
One thing I’ve always been amazed at is the way hutia get along with each other. Curly-tails, and other rodents, so I’m told, hate having other males in their territory. I’ve had to chase out many a competing male to keep my perfect den in my perfect territory. But hutia don’t mind. The males sent mark their territories but it is more to let them know they’re here than to keep other hutia out. Maybe we could learn a thing or two from the hutia about getting along with each other.
I did something a bit different with this book. Instead of one ending, you get to choose how you want it to end. I hope you like it.
Next up is my tale about being kidnapped by poachers. You’ll get to meet a few more of my native Bahamian friends.