Is it a Hamster? No. Is it a Beaver? No. Is it a Guinea Pig? Nearly. Here we have a Capybara, the capybara is the largest rodent in the world. The second largest rodent in the world is a beaver. There is a considerable size difference between 1st and 2nd. The Capybara when fully grown will be about 4.3 feet in length. On the other hand, a beaver will be 2.9 feet long when fully grown. The Capybara can weigh the same weight as an adult male. They are very wide animals, looking like a wooden barrel. They have very thin hair and webbed feet which help them to swim. On the face of a Capybara, it looks very similar to a hippo. The nose, eyes and ears are all on top, meaning like a hippo they can scan their surroundings while their body is underwater.
Capybaras are found over much of South America, countries including Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia and Ecuador. The only country in South America which Capybara doesn’t inhabit is Chile. Due to them been semi-aquatic, they live half on land and water. They can be found near riverbanks, beside ponds and in marshes. The reason why Capybaras need water is due to there very dry skin, they will swim in the water to rehydrate the skin to keep healthy.
Due to capybaras been a rodent, they do share the same traits as our beloved friend’s hamsters, chinchillas and rabbits to only name a few. Their teeth will constantly keep growing, therefore they will need to have a diet to help them wear their teeth down. They will usually do this by grazing on grass and water plants. An adult Capybara can eat up to 3.6 kilogrammes. This is the same weight as 36 Blueberry muffins, I’m sure he’d much more prefer the muffins to grass. Every now and then Capybara will do something that we will regard as disgusting. They will eat their own poop, the poop contains beneficial bacteria which helps with fibre breakdown. Another interesting fact about Capybaras is that they are able to regurgitate their food like a camel they also chew from side to side.
Capybaras will usually be found in groups of 10 or more but during the rainy season, there can be up to 40 capybara’s together. This is very useful the predators of young capybaras are caimans, ocelots, harpy eagles, and anacondas. The adult capybaras are too big for these animals to take down so the main threat to adults is Jaguars and Humans.
The reproduction is very interesting, they will only mate under water. Females will find some water and whistle to call over a male. Females will either accept or decline the invitation to mate, to decline they will fully submerge or get out the water. Usually, the female will have around 1 litter per year but can have 2. The female will have a gestation period of about 5-6 months, with litter sizes on average is about 4 but this can be up to 8. When infants they can suckle from multiple females at once, the females can also carry the infants on their backs. The babies will then mature at 7 – 12 months, before maturity they will avoid going into the water to avoid being eaten by caiman and anacondas. Capybaras will usually live for about 8 – 10 years.
An Interesting Fact You Didn’t Know Before Reading This!!!!
In the 16th century, the Catholic Church classified the capybara, which can swim, as a fish so that the meat could be eaten on Fridays and during Lent.