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What is the Capybara?

By Marla Lise


Capybara in Peru. Photo by Marla Lise.

Capybara

Scientific Name: Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris

The capybara is the largest rodent in the world. Think of it as a very, very large guinea pig, one as big as a dog.

Capybaras are found all over South America, except for Chile. In some areas there are so many of them, they are even considered a pest. For example, in 1999 scientists found 12.5 capybaras per hectare in the Brazilian Pantanal. In other areas, such as in some parts of the Amazon, capybaras can be quite rare.

Capybaras have barrel-shaped bodies with small eyes on the top of their heads, which allow them to peek over the top of the water when they are submerged. They are good swimmers and can hold their breath for up to five minutes.

Capybaras are sociable animals, traveling in groups with up to 100 individuals. They live near the water and feed on grasses and aquatic plants.

Although this species is hunted for its meat and fur and also sometimes kept as pets, the capybara is not threatened.



Cabybara


Capybara
Capybara

(Brazil)


Cabybara



Cabybara



Cabybara


Mother capybara with baby
Mother capybara with baby

(Brazil)

Capybara leaving water with a bird on its back
Capybara leaving water with a bird on its back
Location: Tambopata rainforest

(Peru)

Capybara crossing a road
Capybara crossing a road

(Brazil)


Cabybara



Capybara at sunset



Cabybara



Cabybara




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