The Capybara is a semiaquatic mammal native to South America. Escapees from captivity have been found in Florida and the central coast of California. It is the largest living rodent in the world. Its close relative is the guinea pig; and it’s distantly related to the chinchilla.
Its habitat is savannas, dense forests and along rivers in the tropical rainforest. It will always live near a body of water. They are highly social and live in groups of 10-20 animals. They are not a threatened species and are hunted for meat, hides and grease from its thick, fatty skin which is used in the pharmaceutical industry.
The Capybara is heavy and barrel-shaped with a short head and reddish-brown fur. It has slightly webbed feet with three toes in the rear and four toes on the front feet. The Capybaras average 3.5-4.5 feet in length, 20-24 inches in height and weigh from 77 to 146 pounds. Females are slightly heavier than the males. They can hold their breath under water for up to 5 minutes.
They are herbivores and feed on grasses , aquatic plants, fruits and tree bark. The lifespan of a Capybara in captivity can be up to 12 years but only 4 in the wild because they are a favorite meal for jaguars, pumas, ocelots, eagles, caiman and anacondas. They can make a dog-like bark if threatened or when the female is herding her young.
Capybaras are gentle and can be hand-fed; but this is discouraged because they can have the tick that carries Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Some people like to keep them as pets; but they are illegal in some states.
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Have you ever seen a capybara?