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hutia

any of 26 living and recently extinct species of Caribbean rodents. The surviving species of hutia are short-limbed and stout and have a large head, small eyes and ears, prominent claws, and long whiskers. Size ranges from the rat-sized dwarf hutia (Mesocapromys nanus), with a body length of 20 to 30 cm (8 to 12 inches), to the raccoon-sized Desmarest's Cuban hutia (Capromys pilorides), with a body 32 to 60 cm long and weight of up to 8.5 kg (19 pounds). The tail ranges from very short and inconspicuous in Brown's hutia (Geocapromys brownii) to pronounced and prehensile in the long-tailed Cuban hutia Mysateles prehensilis. Depending on the species, the tail may be thinly or thickly furred and have a thick coat of fur that may be soft or coarse; colours range from gray to brown to black above, with lighter underparts.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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