A River Name Which Is Also A Flower Name Gibnut: The Royal Rat Of Belize

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Gibnut: The Royal Rat Of Belize

Paca is their formal name, however, depending on their regional location, Paca has many other names. Paca is often known as gibnut in Belize. Interestingly, the paca has another name in Belize: ‘Queen’s Rat’ or ‘Royal Rat of Belize.’ The name Queen’s Rat or Royal Rat of Belize is nothing against Her Majesty, a name she got when she was given this highly prized delicacy on one of her trips to Belize.

There are two species of Paca: Mountain Paca and Lowland Paca. Both species are found throughout the rainforests, lowlands, swamps, and riverbanks of Central and South America. Both species of Pacus are found from southern Mexico south to northern Argentina and even on the island of Trinidad.

Prized as sport, pacus is widely hunted in Belize. High in calories, paca meat was so prized that, according to ancient legend, only Mayan kings could raise and eat it. Mayan servants were severely punished if they were caught eating paka. Even today Paca meat can fetch a good price and is still a luxury. However, due to their rapid reproduction, pacus can soon be grown commercially.

Due to the high price of prey and their meat, pukas are vulnerable to poaching. Although Paca is still abundant overall, Paca populations have been observed to decline in some areas, for currently unknown reasons, with the Mountain Paca being the most threatened.

Both mountain puka and lowland puka’s diet consists mostly of fruit. However, Pacus have slightly different diets depending on their location and time of year. Other foods that Pacas are known to eat include roots, seeds, leaves, buds and flowers. Growing in the wild versus being raised in captivity is also an important factor in Paca’s diet. Pacas in the wild are only vegetarians, semi-opposite, Pacas in captivity, are omnivores as they are also known to eat fish, raw meat, lizards and insects.

If you’re in Belize, be sure and try this delicious delicacy: Queen’s Rat. The meat of the gibnut is white and does not taste like pork, rabbit or chicken. The meat of the gibnut has its own special taste: it tastes like a gibnut! Eating a delicious meal of gibnut stew with Belizean rice and beans is a memorable cultural experience that will last you a lifetime.

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