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Capybara

Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris

  1. Not Evaluated
  2. Data Deficient
  3. Least Concern
  4. Near Threatened
  5. Vulnerable
  6. Endangered
  7. Critically Endangered
  8. Extinct in the Wild
  9. Extinct

About Us

Capybara are the largest living rodent in the world and are closely related to the guinea pig and rock cavies. 

Capybara are herbivores and mainly graze on grasses, aquatic plants, fruit and tree bark. They are very selective feeders and will often ignore multiple tree species while on the hunt for a specific one. 

Distribution
South America
Habitat
Savannahs, dense forests and areas near water
Height
50-60cm tall and up to 1.3m long as adults
Weight
Up to 65kg
Gestation Period
130-150 days
Sexual Maturity
18 months
Lifespan
In captivity, they can live up to ten years. Four years in the wild.
Threats
Habitat destruction due to farming and development; conflict with humans; poaching

Physical Features

Capybara are large rodents, native to South America. As they are semi-aquatic, these animals have webbed toes to aid them in the water. 

Males can grow to weigh up to 65kg as adults, however the females will tend to weigh more. Capybara have a scent gland on their nose called a 'morillo'. This is always visible on males and becomes more prominent on females during oestrous. 

Diet

Capybara are herbivores and will mainly graze on grasses, aquatic plants, fruit and tree bark. 

Social Structure and Communication

Capybara are gregarious and will often be found living in groups of around 20 individuals. 

Alloparenting (parenting by non-related members of a group) has also been observed in this species. 

Husbandry and Enrichment

The water pool in the capybara enclosure allows the animals to take a swim, which suits their semi-aquatic lifestyle. Their webbed feet make them agile in the water. 

Threats and conservation

Destruction of habitat and deforestation, as well as hunting for meat and pelt are the biggest threats facing capybara in the wild.

The IUCN has listed this species as 'Least Concern'.

Fun Facts

Capybara will only mate in water, with their gestation lasting between 130-150 days. A litter will contain, on average, four young.

As with many other rodents, a capybara's front and cheek teeth will continuously grow throughout their lives. 

Capybara are able to hold their breath underwater for up to five minutes.