Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Sources Cited





Fun Facts

-Capybaras are the largest rodents in the world.

-Their name means "master of the grasses" and are also known as "water pigs."

-They can stay submerged for up to five minutes in the water, and if needed, can even sleep in the water.

-Capybaras are sometimes kept as pets in the U.S. and Canada, but this is rare because they are very expensive.

-Their meat is considered a delicacy.

-An adult capybara will eat 6-8 pounds of grasses per day.

Life Cycle

Capybara are sexually mature around 18 months old. The breeding time for capybaras take place in the water and occurs all year round.

The gestation of a capybara is about 150 days. The female will give birth to a litter of up to seven young. Newborns weigh about 2-3 pounds, are able to see, and are completely covered in hair. A few hours later, the young can stand and run. Within the first week, the young are able to eat grass, but still primarily rely on the mother's milk for the first few months. They are eventually weaned off the milk at about a year old. All of the females in the group share the duty of providing milk for the young, as well as protecting and caring for them.

They can live about 4-8 years in the wild, and around 12 years if in captivity.

Social Organization

Overall, capybaras are social animals. They tend to live in groups or 10-30. Each of these groups include one dominant male, one or more females, young capybara, and one or more subordinate males.

When vegetation is plentiful, they maintain and defend their territory.

During the dry season, capybaras may congregate in groups of up to 100.

In order to communicate with one another in these large groups, they use their sense of smell as well as a series of purrs, barks, whistles, clicks, squeals, and grunts.


If in the wild... the capybara will eat grasses, aquatic plants, tree bark, grains, squash, melon, as well as other fruits.

If at the zoo... the capybara will eat rodent pellets with vitamins and minerals, along with fruits, vegetables, and hay.

Young capybara are the prey for many animals. Some of the predators include vultures, feral dogs, caimans, and foxes. The young are not the only ones susceptible to predators. Adult capybaras are the prey of jaguars, caimans, and anacondas.


-The capybara’s eyes, nostrils and ears are located near the top of the head.

-They are excellent divers and swimmers.

-If threatened by land predators, they retreat to the safety of water, and escape by either swimming away, hiding in floating vegetation, or staying submerged for several minutes.

-Like all other rodents, capybaras have two front teeth continuously grow throughout their life. They gnaw on tree trunks and chew grasses to wear down their teeth.

-These herbivores are very efficient grazers using their teeth to crop short grasses and other vegetation.

-The capybara diet is high in cellulose, which is hard to digest. In order to process the cellulose they have a large fermentation chamber called the cecum, but they are unable to absorb nutrients from the cecum. To absorb those nutrients, capybaras recycle their food by ingesting their feces.


They range throughout Central and South America, including Panama, Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Guyana, Suriname, French Guyana, Uruguay, Peru, and Paraguay.

The capybara inhabits densely vegetated areas and forests. They tend to live near lakes, streams, swamps, and marshes.

They roam in home ranges of 25–5o acres.