The Capybara (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris) is a mammal native to South America. It is the largest living rodent in the world. Its close relative is the guinea pig, and its distant relative is the agouti.
The Capybara has a stout, heavy body with short reddish-brown fur on it upperparts and yellowish-brown fur on its underparts. Its head is short, its ears are small, its nostrils are large, and its eyes are almond-shaped.
It has whiskers on its muzzle (nose). It has short legs, with slightly webbed feet. It has four toes on its front feet and three toes on its back feet. It has a short tail. It has large front teeth, which grow continuously.
It grows to about 134 centimetres (54 inches) long.
It prefers savannahs and thick forests, near water, such as swamps, marshes, and ponds. It is semi-aquatic and its slightly webbed feet enable it to swim.
The Capybara is an herbivorous grazer, feeding on grass. It is also an autocoprophagous animal, because it eats its own manure (poop). This helps its stomach to digest grass.
Its predators include the jaguar, puma, ocelot, eagle, anaconda, and caiman.
The Capybara is a social animal, living in groups up to 100 individuals, but usually 10-20. Females are pregnant for 130-150 days, before giving birth to 1-8 young. She gives birth on land (not in the water). The young are independent after about 4 months.
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM