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 106 – 134 cm long

Weight 35 – 66 kg

Gestation 4 – 5 months

Young Up to 8 young

Life span Up to 10 years in the wild and up to 12 years in captivity

What do I eat?

Capybaras are herbivores, and will primarily graze on grass but will also eat some fruit and other vegetation including aquatic plants such as the water hyacinth.

These animals are most active during the morning and afternoon, and will often feed at these times. They will spend the rest of the day resting or wallowing in mud and water to keep cool.

Where do I live?

The capybara can be found throughout most of South America and ranges from Colombia and Venezuela into northern Argentina. Capybaras live close to the water and are most often seen in seasonally flooded grasslands.

Breeding

These animals are very social, they will often be found in groups of around 10 individuals with a dominant male in charge of many females and their young.

Capybaras are able to mate from 12-18 months old, and breeding is known to occur in water during the wet season. When females are due to give birth, they will leave the group to have their young in a quiet secluded area.

Young capybaras are able to keep up with the group from 3-4 days, they will even start to graze on the same food as the adults from this age but will feed from their mother and any female that is producing milk (lactating) until about 16 weeks old.

Predators

Capybara, especially when young, may be hunted by large predators such as anacondas, caimans, harpy eagles, ocelots and jaguars.

When alarmed, capybara will run away quickly and will head towards water and swim away to escape potential threats.

Conservation

The main threat faced by the capybara is hunting, for both meat and its hide which is highly-valued in South America. Capybaras are sometimes killed by farmers as they are known to eat crops and compete for food with domestic livestock.

These animals are found in many protected areas and efforts have been made to control hunting, but unfortunately illegal hunting still occurs.

Did you know?

The capybara is the world’s largest rodent!

Capybaras are strong swimmers; they are known to be able to stay underwater for up to 5 minutes.

Capybaras will use both vocalisations and scent to keep in contact with their offspring and the rest of the group.

Male capybaras can easily be recognised from females as they have a dark, raised scent gland on the top of their snout.

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Great support for disabled access

We thought it was brilliant, great support for disabled access, animals looked well looked after, clean, set in lovely countryside, good signage, lots of interesting info about the animals, lots of places to get refreshments, we'll definitely come again Tina Lee, 4th January 2017