The capybara (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris) is the largest living rodent in the world. Its closest relatives are agouti, chinchillas, coyphillas, and guinea pigs. Its common name, derived from Kapiÿva in the Guarani language, means “master of the grasses” while its scientific name, both hydrochoerus and hydrochaeris, comes from Greek ὕδωρ (ýdor = water) + χοίρος (choiros = pig, hog).
Capybaras have heavy, barrel-shaped bodies and short heads with reddish-brown fur on the upper part of their body that turns yellowish-brown underneath. Adult capybaras may grow to 130 centimetres (4.3 ft) in length, and weigh up to 65 kg (140 lb). The top recorded weight is 105.4 kg (232 lbs).
Capybaras have slightly webbed feet, no tail and 20 teeth. Their back legs are slightly longer than their front legs and their muzzles are blunt with eyes, nostrils, and ears on top of their head. Females are slightly heavier than males. Females average 36 to 66 kg (80 to 145 pounds), while males typically weigh about 34 to 61 kilograms (75 to 135 pounds).
Capybaras are semi-aquatic mammals found wild in much of South America (including Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, Uruguay, Peru, and Paraguay) in densely forested areas near bodies of water, such as lakes, rivers, swamps, ponds and marshes, as well as flooded savannah and along rivers in tropical forest. They roam in home ranges of 25–50 acres (10–20 ha).
DIET AND PREDATION
Capybaras are herbivores, grazing mainly on grasses and aquatic plants, as well as fruit and tree bark. An adult capybara will eat 6 to 8 pounds (2.7 to 3.6 kg) of grasses per day. Capybaras are very selective feeders with four to six plant species making 75% of its diet. They will select the leaves of one species and disregard other species surrounding it.
Capybaras eat a greater variety of plants during the dry season as there are fewer plants available. While they eat grass during the wet season, they have to switch to reeds during the dry season as they are more abundant. Plants that capybaras eat during the summer lose their nutritional value in the winter and the thus not consumed at that time. More....