The grasscutter: an African delicacy
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CTA. 1993. The grasscutter: an African delicacy. Spore 46. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/49172
The grasscutter (Thyronomys swinderianus) is found throughout the African continent south of the Sahara. Several countries incorrectly attribute the name 'agouti' to it, arid it has several dialect names: 'kibondo' in Kiswahili, 'simbiliki' in...
The grasscutter (Thyronomys swinderianus) is found throughout the African continent south of the Sahara. Several countries incorrectly attribute the name 'agouti' to it, arid it has several dialect names: 'kibondo' in Kiswahili, 'simbiliki' in Lingala, and 'zibizi'' in Kimushi Its meat is very much in demand, partly perhaps because the species is quite rare. Attempts at farming have met with some success since it has advantages over both the rabbit and the guinea pig and the demand for its meat ensures a ready market. Grasscutter flesh is considered a delicacy in some parts of Africa and has the considerable advantage of being free of any religious prohibition (some Muslims do not eat rabbit or guinea pig). However, it is not cheap. Although sold all the year round it is in particularly high demand for festivals. It is easy to rear, since it eats a variety of wild savannah grasses, can cope with high temperatures and humidity and is not as prone to disease as the rabbit First catch your grasscutter The most difficult aspect of rearing this wild animal is catching it in the first place and accustoming it to captivity: dark cages, preferably without bars or mesh to avoid injury, are recommended in order to keep Traumata to a minimum. It takes three or four months for the animal to adapt. Mortality can be high during this period, but this is less and less of a problem now that more young animals are being bred in captivity. Grasscutters can be kept either in individual cages, which increase production costs but prevents growth checks, or in enclosures built on the ground itself Optimum conditions should be Peaceful. cool, airy, light and clean. Four adult animals (one male to three females) require a surface area of two square metres. Otherwise, the only necessary provision is some bedding made of dry grass, a hollow tree trunk laid horizontally for shelter and a simple fodder rack. Grasscutters are herbivorous, living on green or dry fodder grass, seeds, rhizomes, tubers and a mineral mix made up of bonemeal, fishmeal, salt etc. Scrupulous attention to their hygiene (frequent cleaning, ventilation' etc.) will prevent disease in animals which are already acclimatized to captivity. Females reach breeding age at around six or seven months. and give birth to two to seven young after a gestation period of five months. There is an interval of about 13 or 14 months between litters. Anyone wishing to start rearing grasscutters should begin with only a few animals so as to become familiar with the necessary techniques. Zaire and Benin have specialist organizations which can give advice and information on the subject: Minist\E8re du D\E9veloppement Rural, BP 03 2900 Cotonou. BENIN Projet Petit Elevage, BP 9, Kasongo, ZAIRE