Capybaras: The Largest Rodent In The World.


tambopata peru amazon phil torres

These guys.

We come across these perfectly mud-colored mammals quite often, and are one of the more guaranteed wildlife sightings you can have if you visit Tambopata. If google doesn’t like (which, let’s be honest, it does), baby capybaras are called cubs. And one thing google certainly didn’t lie about is that capybara cubs are pretty darn cute.

jeff cremer tambopata peru amazon

This is the largest family group we've seen. Perfect image by Jeff Cremer.

One of the more well-known facts about these animals is that they are the largest rodent in the world, with some males getting up to 150lbs. About the size of a very large rottweiler. Here are some of the lesser known facts about capybaras, including answers to many of the questions visitors to this region ask me:

  • They live in male-dominated family groups
  • Their ears, eyes, and nose match up in a line so they can hear, see, and breathe while swimming.
  • Or not breathe, because they can hold their breath for up to 5 minutes, a top method for escaping predation.
  • If you imagine them with a long rat-like tail, they suddenly become ferocious-looking giant rats.
  • Capybaras feed on grasses along the edge of rivers. Because grass is hard to digest, they are caecotrophic, andĀ this was written about them “AnimalsĀ sat on their hind limbs, stretched either limb out, bent over driving their heads in the direction of the anus and licked a pasty material that differed from normal oval-shaped feces.” Basically it allows them to re-digest and take another shot at getting energy from grass.
  • They have a symbiotic relationship with the cowbird. The bird hangs out on their head or back (see below) and eats the flies and ticks off the capybaras. A win-win for an unlikely pairing.

Best animal friends forever. Image by Phil Torres.



1 Comment to "Capybaras: The Largest Rodent In The World."

  1. jacob's Gravatar jacob
    June 7, 2013 - 11:46 am | Permalink

    I have a cottage in Quebec along highway 17, saw one of these and could only fathom it was released from captivity as it’s FAR from home lol. Whats the odds it would adapt and survive a Canadian winter?

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