Capybara (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris)

capybara

In with the greater rhea and tapirs behind the gift shop and alongside the flamingoes.

Fast facts

Status Least Concern

Size Head-body length: 100-130cm; shoulder height: up to 50cm

Weight 27-79kg

Gestation 149-156 days

Young 1-8

Life span Up to 12 years

What do I eat?

Capybaras mostly eat grasses, but will also eat aquatic plants, grains, melons and squashes.

Where do I live?

Capybaras are found in most of South America east of the Andes. They live in a variety of habitats close to water, including marshes, estuaries, and in dense vegetation alongside rivers, lakes, ponds and streams.

Breeding

Young capybaras are able to follow their mother and can eat grass very soon after being born. They are weaned by 16 weeks of age. Capybaras live in family groups of between 2 and 20 individuals, with one male who is dominant and able to mate with the females.

Predators

Capybaras, especially young ones, are preyed upon by many large predators including anacondas, caimans, jaguars and humans. Capybaras always remain alert for predators whilst grazing, and they will give a bark if they spot a threat. Capybaras are strong swimmers, and if they are chased they will head towards water and try to swim to safety.

Conservation

The main threat faced by capybaras is hunting for meat and leather, although there are now some commercial capybara farms which have reduced the demand for capybaras caught in the wild. Capybaras are widely distributed and common in many places, and are found in many protected areas.

Did you know?

Capybaras are the world’s largest living rodent.

Capybaras are excellent swimmers. When they swim only their nostrils, eyes and ears are above the surface. They sometimes hide in floating vegetation, with only their nostrils above the water. 

These animals are able to dive and swim completely underwater.

Capybaras are commonly found in groups of up to 20, but as many as 64 have been seen together.

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