Capybara

ANIMAL:
Capybara Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris

Type of Animal:
Cavy

Habitat:
Lakes, rivers, tropical lowland forest (both wet & dry), marshes, brackish wetlands, swamps, grassland, savanna, ponds, floodplains, brushy scrub, streams, scrub forest

Location(s):
E. Colombia, Venezuela, Guianas, Brazil, E. Ecuador, E. Peru, E. Bolivia, Paraguay, N.E. Argentina, Uruguay

Appearance:
World’s largest rodent, heavy, barrel-shaped body w/ short head, reddish to yellowish-brown fur, slightly webbed feet, no tail.

Food/Diet:
Grasses, aquatic plants, vegetables, fruit, squash, melons, bark, grains

Status in Wild:
Stable

Conservation:
Breeding on farms, ranches, zoos, & wildlife parks. Being farmed for meat & fur.

Lifestyle:
Usually found in herds of 20-30 led by dominant male. Usually the only male allowed to breed, and sometimes, only adult male in herd. Bachelor groups of related males also occur.

Additional Info:

Called:
Male-Boar
Female-Sow
Young-Pup
Group-Herd

Weight:
Male-77-140 lbs
Female-80-145 lbs
Young-3-12 lbs

Gestation:
4 months

Height:
2 ft

Body Length:
3.5-4.4 ft

Life Span: 
10 years

Main predators are jaguars, crocodilians, anacondas, bush dogs, feral dogs, maned wolves, ocelots, pumas, foxes, harpy eagles, & boa constrictors. Smaller cats, vultures, smaller eagles, large hawks, large owls, opossums, & piranhas only prey on young.

Males have been known to die from wounds incurred during fights.

Mature males have prominent scent gland on nose called “morillo”.

Known to breed rapidly, sexually mature at a year old.

Closest relatives are cavies and guinea pigs.

Very good swimmers.

Very common in zoos.

Able to hold breath underwater for up to 5 minutes.

Besides mating in water & being great swimmers, they’ll sometimes sleep in water, keeping only their noses out of water.

Fun Fact(s):
In 16th century, Catholic Church classified capybara as fish because it could swim. This also meant meat could be eaten on Fridays & Lent.

Capybara meat often consumed by Amazon natives.

Capybara meat said to taste & look like pork.

Have been raised as pets due to gentle temperament when fixed. Even intact individuals are gentle.

Scientific name Greek for “water hog”.

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