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Capybara

Classification
  • Order: Rodentia
  • Family: Caviidae
  • Genus: Hydrochoerus
  • Species: hydrochaeris
Fun Fact

Capybaras are the largest rodent in the world. They are about 3.5 to 4.5 feet long, about 1.5 feet tall and weigh from 59 to 174 pounds.

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About Capybaras

They have long, coarse hair that is reddish brown to grayish and is yellowish on the underside. They do not have a tail, their limbs are short and they have partially webbed digits with strong claws. Males and females look the same, however, males have a large scent gland on the top of the snout.

They are very social and gather near water in groups of up to 20 individuals. These groups usually include one dominant male, several adult females, their offspring, and subordinate males. They are most active at dusk and dawn but have become nocturnal in areas heavily populated by humans. They mostly sleep during the day but can be found wallowing in the mud during the hottest parts of the day. They communicate using whistles, whimpers, clicking noises and barks.

Capybaras are preyed upon by animals such as jaguars, caiman, ocelots, harpy eagles and large snakes such as the anaconda as well as humans that eat them. They go into the water to escape from predators because only their eyes, ears and nostrils show above the water.

Capybaras in the Wild

Habitat

They live in a variety of habitats including swamps, marshes and forests near ponds, lakes, rivers and streams.

Location

Capybaras can be found in Central and South America. This species is wide ranging from Colombia and Venezuela into northern Argentina.

Diet

Like all rodents their two front teeth, incisors, are constantly growing so they need to gnaw and chew to keep the growth down. Like most rodents capybaras are herbivorous, feeding on water plants, grasses, fruit and grain.

Population Status

In many areas, populations are “stable.” However, in some countries hunting and extermination have lowered population numbers.

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