What is that thing? It's a popular pet in Cuba Congui, a domesticated hutia, rides on the front door of an American classic car driven by its owner Rafael Lopez, in Bainoa, Cuba (AP photos)
What is that thing? It's a popular pet in Cuba
Lexile

Some people keep guinea pigs or hamsters as pets.

But in Cuba, where a larger, more exotic rodent runs wild, Ana Pedraza and her husband prefer the hutia.

With a rope-like tail and long front teeth, the hutia looks like a giant rat. Only it's cuter, some would say. The animals live in Cuba and other Caribbean islands and are sometimes hunted for food.

But Pedraza and her husband Rafael Lopez say they only want to protect and take care of the animal, which measure nearly a foot long, with the largest ones weighing in bigger than a small dog.

The couple began collecting hutias about five years ago. They picked up one that was languishing on a roadside and named her Congui. They found her a mate and now have more than a half-dozen hutias in their home about 25 miles east of the capital, Havana.

Congui and her brood like to drink sweetened coffee and munch on crackers and vegetables.

Critical thinking challenge: Why arent hutias popular in the U.S.?

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COMMENTS (60)
  • Kali1
    11/24/2014 - 08:28 a.m.

    That's really cool! I heard there was another name for this rodents. It was capybara. Ive always wanted one. I have a guinea pig though. People say they look like rats but actually if you look right at them for a couple of minutes you can see they actually look more like guinea pigs, or hamsters.

  • Kiante C.
    11/24/2014 - 08:28 a.m.

    Huntias are native to Caribbean islands.So you do not see them in U.S.why would you see In the U.S if they are native to the Caribbean islands.I wonder if this would be a cool pet.

  • AlarrahM.
    11/24/2014 - 08:33 a.m.

    Q- Why aren't hutias popular in the U.S.?
    A- Because if hutias were to live in the U.S. they would be most likely to be hunted fro a popular characteristic they have.
    I wonder if the hutias are native to just the Cuba area , are they from Africa , are there more places to find hutia.

  • rachel.12
    11/24/2014 - 08:33 a.m.

    I would not like to have that as a pet because it came from the wild, and it has long teeth which can bite you. If they could be harmless i would still not get one. They are CREEPY! I would not even let the thing come near me!!!

  • MS2000TACOS
    11/24/2014 - 08:36 a.m.

    Huntias are not popular in the united states because they are exotic animals. People prefer calm nice animals. Not animals that live in the wild and crawl in your backyard at night.

  • Yaire
    11/24/2014 - 08:37 a.m.

    I would not like to have that as a pet because its wild, a foot long, and has giant teeth. I don't think that I have ever heard of a pet that likes to drink coffee. I think that the reason their not popular in the U.S. is because in Cuba and the Caribbean Islands people are hunting them for food. I wonder if the Hutia would harm somebody?

  • SA2001orange
    11/24/2014 - 08:39 a.m.

    Hutias aren't popular in he U.S. because they are an exotic type of animal that can be found outside of America. Animals adapt and evolve differently depending on where they live.

  • JM2000Blue
    11/24/2014 - 08:39 a.m.

    The hutia is not popular in the united states because they are only found in Cuba and the Caribbean islands, we don't export them because our problems with Cuba.

  • kr2001blue
    11/24/2014 - 08:43 a.m.

    They are not popular in the U.S. because they live in/on Caribbean islands. The U.S. is not an island. Who would want to travel all the way to a Caribbean island just for a hutia. Also some people may think that the hutia is ugly if u compare it to a rat. That makes them even scarier because they look like rats just bigger.

  • EvanL-Pol
    11/24/2014 - 09:43 a.m.

    This has to be one of the cutest animals I have ever seen! I would love to reasearch about this animal. I may need to go to Cuba to get this.

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