What is the Capybara?


Maggie Robinson

The capybara photographed above lives at the Brandywine Zoo in Wilmington, Delaware. Her name is Candace and she is about 12 years old.

What animal do you think of when someone says rodent? Most people would say a mouse, I would say capybara.

A capybara is the world’s largest rodent. At full size, they can grow to be four and a half feet long, and about two feet tall. To some people that might sound like the grossest thing ever. Why would you ever want to see that? Well these animals are actually very interesting.

In the wild, capybaras live to be about  seven years old. The capybara is native to South America, mostly in Brazil and Columbia. In its natural habitat, it would live in a forest, grassland or scrub. In the wild, the capybara eats mainly grasses, some aquatic plants and even their own feces. 

Like other rodents, the capybara has partially webbed feet. This makes them good swimmers. They can also sleep underwater, they just stick their noses above so they can breathe. The capybara can hold its breath for up to five minutes. Fun fact about the capybara is that they are only slightly denser than water. 

The capybara is prey for many animals. Jaguars, pumas and caimans are all animals that eat the capybara. Smaller sized and children capybaras are a go to snack for boa constrictors, small cats(as in wild cats) and vultures. The predators are all dependent on the time of day and the season. 

After learning this information about the capybara, I hope you learned something new and your views on this large rodent have changed.