Tag Archives: dominicans

Creatures Of Dominican Republic 1 – Nocturnal

Some of the Nocturnal Creatures of the Dominican Republic.

Creatures of the night that are usually only seen after dark.

Hispaniolan Hutia/ Capromyidae | Agouta or Juron/ Hispaniolan Solenodon | Cacata/ Tarantula

The Hispaniolan Hutia (Capromyidae)

The cute little endangered Hispaniolan Hutia (Capromyidae)
The cute little endangered Hispaniolan Hutia (Capromyidae)

This furry small mammal creature looks like a mix between a large guinea pig and a small groundhog, with some rat-like looks thrown in for good measure. They are only found on the islands of the Caribbean where they are, for the most part, the last indigenous living land mammal. Their walk is more or a waddle. When they are frightened this slow waddle can change into a fast high hop. Using this hop or their good climbing skills is how they escape their predators. The Hutia have an almost naked tail that is a little scaly. They do have claws. Mainly vegetarian, they live on roots and fruits which they eat when they come out of their burrows, hollow trees, or nesting boxes where they live, after dark. The small creature closely resembles the rabbit having the same nesting and eating habits.

The Hutia is becoming increasingly rare. They have been hunted and have not been able to repopulate as fast as they are being taken. Also with their habitat slowly diminishing they are slowly disappearing from existence. These cute fuzzy creatures have been hunted since the Taino days. Their meat was considered quite tasty by the indigenous peoples and also by Columbus and his European gang. The Hutai does well in captivity and hopefully, soon the Dominican people will start raising/farming them as a food crop. Let’s hope that we humans can protect these little furry island mammals and once again see the Hispaniolan Hutia romping and bouncing freely through the Dominican landscape.


Interesting BBC video produced as a visual anthropology experience, and part of the project The Last Survivors “Saving the Hutia and the Solenodon”.

Agouta / Hispaniolan solenodon also known as Juron or Solenodonte in Dominican Republic

Solenodon found in Dominican Republic
Solenodon found in Dominican Republic

This furry rabbit sized creature is from the genus Dasyprocta and can be found throughout the American tropics. The species found in Dominican Republic and Haiti is the Solenodon paradoxus.

This insect-eating mammal is quite similar to a mole as it feeds and moves around mostly in the darkness and at night. It has a long body, with a small or sometimes non-existent tail, and small ears. This burrowing animal weighs about 25 to 35 ounces at adulthood. Its long narrow feet have some very sharp claws. The teeth of this wiry, dark brown mammal are its most unique part. The teeth can inject venom into whatever it bites. This venom is injected through some small grooves that run down their small sharp teeth. They are the only mammals with this ability.

The Agouta is an ancient creature that survived the end of the dinosaur age. It also was one of the very few mammals that were able to live through the colonization of the islands. At one time they were about the only predators on the island. This indigenous creatures reproduction cycle is very slow. They are only able to get pregnant 1 or 2 times a year, making only a few babies in their litter each time. They are born in burrows and can remain with their mothers for several months, which is quite a long time as compared to other insect-eating creatures.

The Hispaniola or Haitian Solenodons’ numbers are dwindling rapidly. The colonizers of this island and the non-indigenous predators that include dogs and cats found this small insectivore to be quite tasty. Now with the massive deforestation happening here, especially in the east part of the island, the solenodons numbers are rapidly dwindling. This along with their inability to reproduce rapidly has made this species almost extinct placing it at #6 on the endangered species list (3/08).

The YouTube video above has information about the Hutia and the Solenodon – The Last Survivors

solenodon found in the town of Barahona, Dominican Republic
solenodon found in the town of Barahona, Dominican Republic
solenodon found in the town of Barahona, Dominican Republic
solenodon found in the town of Barahona, Dominican Republic

Pictures taken in the town of Barahona, Dominican Republic. They caught the solenodon and released it later. They said it had a very bad smell and was very mean and aggressive.

*As of April , 2008 the Dominican Zoo, Parque Zoológico Nacional Arq. Manuel Valverde Podestá República Dominicana in Santo Domingo has their first solenodon to show to the public. It was found in the El Sibao region of República Dominicana. This is one of the few in the world on display as it is so rare.

More about the Hispaniolan solenodon
The EDGE of Existence program aims to conserve the world’s most Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) species by implementing the research and conservation actions needed to secure their future. Check their web site to see what you can do to help. There is also more information on many endangered species of wonderful creatures of the world.

Cacata/ Tarantula

cacata - tarantula found in dominican republic
cacata – tarantula found in dominican republic

The Dominican Republic does have its share of spiders, scorpions, ticks, mites, centipedes and other nasty, ugly yet amazing creatures. They are not readily seen, especially in the cities, but in the country they can be plentiful. They are nocturnal and are rarely seen in the daylight.

I never really worried about them. They are not very aggressive. They can be frightening and they do like to crawl into houses at night. This can be a bit startling waking and seeing one of these creatures sitting on your pillow beside your head or rolling over on one in your sleep. The cacatas I saw were more anorexic than this picture but I was told by a friend that he saw one that was so huge, it was the size of a kitten, running around in a warehouse. I try and remember to check the inside of my shoes before putting them on when I am in the country.

When attacking a Cacata beware, they are crafty creatures. They jump and can play dead. When they do walk on your flesh they seem to almost stick to it. Many Dominicans that I have met think that if they do get bit by one of these hairy spiders they will surely die.

Read more about these arachnids at, Invertebrates III: Introduction to Arthropods; Arachnids. It has much information and creepy pictures of these creatures that nightmares are made of.

Continue learning about The Creatures of Dominican Republic – Page 2

Useless Trivia

Dominican Republic Dumb Facts, Trivia, and Useless Information

Here are all those facts you always wanted to know but just did not realize you wanted to know them. These may be very helpful when playing the game of Dominican Trivia that is so popular now (joke).

If you know of any more interesting and pertinent items to add please let me know. Let’s compile a list of all the useless, dumb, facts that everyone does not need to know.

Good reading for those who are bored, have nothing else to do with their time or are looking for some non-important good junk.

Note: We here at Colonial Zone-DR.com cannot vouch for the truth of this information. Consider the things listed here as fun, maybe true, could be true, maybe not true at all, or complete crap. It is all in fun, or is it?

*The worlds largest pot of Sancocho was prepared at the 7th Dominican Fair at La Sirena February 12, 2007. After 5 hours of cooking in a four meter cooking pot three thousand people got to eat this yummy, typical Dominican dish. Eleven chefs and their assistants used 300LBS of beef, 250LBS of pork, 150LBS of chicken, 500 plantains, 300LBS of malanga, plus the other ingredients used to make this hugh Dominican dish. (for information on how to make Sancocho)

Cooking some sancocho over a fire

*Even though Santiago is the second largest city in Dominican Republic, as of 2006 the metropolitan area of New York City had a larger population of Dominicans.

*There is an old law dating back to Trujillo’s era. He had the highest peak in the Caribbean known as Pico Duarte named after him. Legally, because of some kind of mistake, it is still called Pico Trujillo instead of Duarte.

Dominican Republic flag among others

*Dominican Republic has the only flag with a bible in it. It was designed by a Vexillographer (flag maker) who was a vexillologist (one who studies flags ) and into Vexillology (the study of flags). More information on the Dominican flag.

*In the Colonial Zone on July 8, 2001 the Association of Spanish Festivities in Dominican Republic held the islands first bull run, a version of Spains San Fermin bull run. A three-minute bull run took place from Calle Atarazana, through Vicente Celestino Duarte to Cristobal Colon. Youths raced and the poor, confused bulls had no idea what was happening. It seems that the Dominican bulls were just too lazy, resulting in them having to be pushed through the streets, instead of them chasing the participants.

*Did you know that there was a small town in Dominican Republic where it was discovered and documented in the early 1970’s that girls turned into boys? It seems that children appearing to be girls turned into men at puberty. First girls when they reached puberty they grew testes, and a penis. They called these children ‘guevedoces’ which literally means “penis at 12 years”. Also known locally as machihembras (‘first women, then man’).It was published in the American Journal of Medicine. For pictures and more information http://www.usrf.org/news/010308-guevedoces.html

*The Austrian musician, Falco, famous for his electronic Euro-pop smash hit ‘Rock Me Amadeus’ in 1986, was killed in Dominican Republic. While on holiday in Puerta Plata the vehicle he was traveling in was involved in a collision with a bus. He died in hospital on February 6th, 1998 from head injuries at the age of 40.

* Huracan is a Taino (natives that inhabited the island) word that is thought to have come originally from the Caribs (a cannibalistic tribe that also inhabited the island). Huracan was the Carib god of evil and that word is thought to have come from “Hurakan” who was the Mayan god of wind and storm. (More about hurricanes in Dominican Republic.)

*The longest baseball game in the Caribbean Baseball Series had 18 innings. The game was 6 hours and 13 minutes long. Played at the Roberto Clemente stadium in Puerto Rico February 2, 2007. The Aguilas Cibaeñas of Dominican Republic won 4 to 3 over the Tigres de Aragua of Venezuela.
Update – the Aguilias won the series for 2007!

A baseball game at the Estadio Quisqueya

*Lisa Marie Presley (Elvis Presley’s daughter) and Michael Joseph Jackson (Jackson 5) got married May 18, 1994. The ceremony was held at Casa de Campo in La Romano, Dominican Republic. Their marriage lasted only 20 months.

*Rush Limbaugh was detained by customs officers in Florida, USA when he landed after a visit to the Dominican Republic. He had a bottle of 29/ 100 MG pills of Viagra with him and he didn’t have a prescription! Bad Bad Rush!

*Can you speak only using your nose? Dominicans are famous for their “nose talk“. A little twitch here and a little wrinkle there. The nose knows.

*Did you know that the town of Nagua has its own slogan? “A Nagua tu entras si quieres, y sales si puedes” (translated, Enter Nagua if you want, leave if you can). Make sure to visit Nagua and you just may understand.

Watch a Barcelo rum television commercial taped in Nagua around 2006 and hear for yourself this slogan.

*Do you know what a Merentician is? It is a Merengue singer and Politician in one. Merengue artist Sergio Vargas is one.

* A man (boy) has to be 16 to get married and a girl (woman) needs to be 15 years of age. Even if the parents agree that the kids can be wed in matrimonial bliss most likely the government will not grant their wish. My thought: Many people here do not have birth certificates or birth records so how can they really prove their correct age? (they are trying to change this law now 3-17)

* Dominican Republic in position 74 of the 121 nations classified in the Global Peace Index in 2007 according to the British magazine The Economist, for reference The United States and Iran appear in positions 97 and 98. Norway and New Zealand are number 1 and 2. Sudan and Iraq come in the last place.
more information at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,,2091513,00.html

* Parque Colon is considered one of the great public places by PPS – Project for Public Spaces. It was voted on because of its vegetation, the nearness to historical landmarks, its accessibility, and its usability. They describe it as an “urban living room” and a “magic space”. (7/09)

Saturday afternoon in Parque Colon

* According to an independent research group in Britain that has the goal of building a new economy, “centered on people and the environment.” in their “Happy Planet Index,” that seeks countries with the most content people. Surveying 143 countries Dominican Republic ranked second in 2009. Each year our little island country makes the top of the list as do many of the smaller islands. Check out the map of the Happy Planet Index for 2011 and make sure you come and visit one of the happiest places in the world!