IntroductionNative to the Tropical Rainforest of South America, the Capybara, who is the largest rodent in the world, can weigh as much as 175 lbs (80 kg). Kids may find this animals nickname "water hog" amusing, but as the name implies, they are found in places where water is plentiful. When this animal was first discovered, it got the nickname "water pig" as people did not realize it was actually a semi-aquatic rodent. The Capybara often competes with farm animals for food. This has resulted in overhunting which has significantly decreased its population. There are many reasons why this animal is so interesting. The following information highlights the most interesting facts and features of the Capybara.
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Capybara Habitat Facts
- Capybaras live in small groups of up to twenty. Each group usually has one dominant male living with a mixture of females and young Capybaras.
- Capybaras live in very close proximity to water sources such as swamps, lakes and rivers. When they are not in the water, they spend their time in the surrounding forest and grasslands.
- Daily travel in search of food may take Capybaras far from their homes, but they almost always return to the same exact spot.
Capybara Fun Facts
- Amazingly, Capybaras are able to stay submerged underwater for up to 5 minutes.
- With course hair that does not cover all of their 4 foot (1.2 meters) long and two foot (.6 meters) wide body, the Capybara is susceptible to sunburn. To protect their skin, they seek shade in the water and mud.
- Capybaras are known for making a variety of vocal noises to communicate. They often squeal, whistle, grunt, bark and purr. Barks mean that danger is near while purrs and whistles mean that babies want their mommies.
- Twilight, early morning and sunset are the most active hours for Capybara. This makes them crepuscular, but some can become nocturnal if they are regularly hunted in the daytime.
- Being semi-aquatic, Capybaras have special adaptations that help them excel at swimming and diving. If necessary, Capybaras are even able to sleep underwater. They keep just their noses above water so they can breathe.
- Capybaras have a scent gland located on their nose which resembles a bump and they use it to mark their territory.
- Capybaras are herbivores, eating mainly grass and plants mixed with some fruits and berries. These picky eaters have a daily grass requirement in the range of 6-8 pounds (2.7 kg- 3.6 kg) per day.
- Capybaras have many predators including Anacondas, Jaguars, Pumas, Foxes, Vultures, Caimans and humans. Humans eat the meat, which is said to resemble the flavor of pork, and, in Argentina, turn the skin into leather products.
Capybara Reproduction Facts
- Capybaras mate only in the water and the male is always the single dominant male from the group. The females always give birth on the land.
- After a gestation period of five months, a litter of four or five babies is born. Each baby weighs approximately 3.5 pounds (1.5 kg).
- The nurturing mothers will nurse and care for any of the young within the group for the first 16 weeks.