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8:24 p.m. - 2007-01-15
The Capybara!
Greetings in the Bleak Mid-Winter,

How goes it? I hope you all had a good MLK weekend.

Recently, my cousin WK mentioned a very special creature on her blog (other than her very cute babykins) - the capybara.

Do you know what a capybara is? Well, none other than the WORLD'S LARGEST RODENT! Yee haa! Of course, our friend the beaver is the SECOND largest.

Therefore, it is important that we learn about the King of Rodentia. Here is a photo of a herd of capys, from

Aren't they cute?! You know I want a herd to love and pet.

Anyway, capybaras live in southern Central America and South America. They enjoy semi-aquatic habitat in Panama, Venezuela, Brazil, Colombia, Bolivia, and northern Peru and Chile.

As cousin WK mentioned on her blog comments, the capybara is the only surviving member of the Hydrochoerus (literally "water pig") genus, although they have some cousins in the mara, or Patagonian cavy, as well as guinea pigs and chinchillas.

I am really curious about the mara, mentioned above, so of course I better share a photo with you loyal Critter Readers. These grazing rodents are about 20 lbs and sort of look like a cross between a deer and a bunny? Pic from

The capybara is much heavier than its' cavy cousin, weighing in at 100 pounds! The largest capybara weighed about 175! They're about two feet tall at the shoulder, and four feet long. In prehistoric times, there was an ancient capybara that was eight times as large!

Like other rodents, capybara must chew rough stuff as their teeth always keep growing. An adult capy will eat about six to eight pounds of tough grasses a day. Like bunnies, capybaras are active in the mornings and evenings, also known as the "crepuscular", or "twilight" times. Also like rabbits, capybaras eat their own poop, to get more nutrition out of all that grass.

To supplement their roughage, capybaras also enjoy eating melons, squash and water plants. To facilitate swimming and underwater feeding, these rodents have webbed toes. They even sleep while submerged, with only their noses above the water for breathing!

Capybaras are an important part of the predatory cycle as food for jaguars, caiman and anacondas. Young capys fall prey to vultures, foxes and wild dogs. Humans also eat capybaras, and the meat is described as fishy-tasting pork. In Venezuela, capybara holds a unique position as the only mammalian meat allowed to be eaten during Lent. Therefore most of the capybaras are killed before that season.

Even though capybaras are hunted, they aren't considered endangered. Yay! In the wild, they live eight to ten years.

In order to attract females, male capybaras rub a special scent gland near their nose on grasses. Capybaras make love in the water! About five months later, four to five babies are born on land. The little ones weigh three to four pounds. These babies nurse for about 16 weeks, living in large family groups headed by a dominant male. Nursing females will feed babies that aren't their own. After a year, male capys are ready for nooky; females reach sexual maturity at 18 months.

A capybara can been in the cartoon "The Tick", as that character's sickly pet "dog", Speak.

Well, I hope you all learned a little about the biggest rodent! Yay for capybaras!

One final photo from Howard Sandler at

Huggies and water-nooky,


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