5 things you should know about capybaras

Capybaras spend most of their time in the water, and guinea pigs are their closest parents. Here you can find some facts about these funny animals.

We all have watched the viral video about 7 capybaras (Hydrochoeris hydrochaeris) of the Saitama Zoo, Japan, taking a hot bath with whirlpool. But what is a capybara? The capybara is the world’s largest rodent. However, for those who fear mice, capybara’s nice and funny snout can’t give rise to rejection. This peaceful mammal is gregarious, living in small groups of individuals in marshy areas in South America.

Here are 5 capybara’s characteristics you may not know.



1. They basically are huge guinea pigs

Capybaras can exceed 1.5 metres in length, 65 kg in weight and 60 centimetres in height to withers. Despite their huge dimensions, making them the world’s largest rodents, their closest relatives are guinea pigs (Cavia porcellus) and rocky cavies (Kerodon rupestris). Agoutis (Dasyproctidae Bonaparte) and chinchillas (Chinchilla) are other relatives.


gruppo di capibara


2. They are semi-aquatic mammals

Lakes, ponds, rivers and swamps are the habitats favoured by capybaras. They indeed spend most of their time in the water, relaxing or eating grasses and aquatic plants: they can eat up to 8 kg of vegetables every day. Capybaras are great swimmers, thanks to their webbed paws, and the eyes, ears and naris are located in the upper part of the head, allowing them to keep the body underwater, such as hippos. They can remain in apnoea up to 5 minutes, hiding from predators, such as jaguars, pumas and ocelots.


Swimming Capybara


3. Their teeth never stop growing

Capybaras, like other rodents, have two long and robust incisors they use to browse on aquatic plants, barks, tubers, and sugar cane. Their teeth can measure over 8 centimetres and they keep growing, in order to fix the wear caused by the constant use.


denti capibara


4. They can be domestic animals

Capybaras are wild animals, but thanks to their gentle behaviour, they are often captured to be used as pets. Fortunately, Italy prohibited capybaras possession by privates in 1996.


capibara domestico


5. They are perfect places to sit on

It seems that many species really love sitting on capybaras. Many bird species, monkeys, rabbits, and other capybaras have been pictured perched, seated or lying down on capybaras’ back.



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