Critter of the Week: Capybara

CONSERVATION STATUS

SCIENTIFIC CLASSIFICATION

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia
Family: Cavidae
Genus: Hydrochoerus
Species: Hydrochoerus Hydrocharies

CAPYBARA RANGE

 

The capybara is the world’s largest living rodent! They can stand up to 2 feet high, grow over 3 feet long, weigh between 75-150 pounds, and reside in the wetter parts of Central and South America. Capybaras are semi-aquatic as they spend time on land and in the water. Their webbed feet make it easy to navigate in the water, while their coarse fur allows them to dry off quickly.

 

 

 

Capybaras have developed many traits that allow them to excel in water. Their eyes, ears, and nostrils are on the tops of their heads allowing them to see, hear, and smell underwater! Not only can they hold their breath for up to five minutes, but they can sleep underwater with their nose just above the water’s surface.

 

 

 

 

Like most rodents, the capybara’s teeth will continuously grow their whole lives. However, their ravenous diet keeps their teeth worn down. In fact, capybaras eat about 6.5 pounds of grass a day!

 

 

 

 

The capybara has a lot of predators such as jaguars, eagles, piranha, pumas, and ocelots. If a capybara senses danger, it will bark at intruders to alarm them tell other capybaras to run or jump into nearby rivers. If the group is attacked, they will form a defensive huddle with young capybaras in the center.

 

 

 

 

There hasn’t been a definitive reason that so many animals in the animal kingdom get along with capybaras. Scientists believe that besides the capybara being so easy-going, it’s because capybaras are naturally social animals. Some can also have symbiotic relationships with capybaras such as birds eating the bugs out of a capybara’s fur while the capybara gets clean.