Hydrochaeris hydrochaeris


The Capybara, native to South America, can be found near water, in humid forests or regions with dense vegetation along rivers, lakes and swamps.

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Length 100 a 130cm
Height up to 50 cm
Weight 27 a 66Kg
Lifespan 10 years
Diet Creeping herbs and aquatic plants
Habitat Humid forests
Reproduction 1 to 8 cubs
IUCN Red List Status
Not evaluated
Data deficient
Least concern
Near threatened
Critically endangered

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The Capybara is the largest rodent in the world. It has a head of large proportions with a very pronounced snout and small, round ears. It has short legs, interdigital membranes on its legs - which allow it to swim - and strong claws. The fur is long and rough in shades of beige. Its teeth never stop growing.



It is a semiaquatic animal. Due to the shape of its head, it swims with its eyes, ears and nostrils above the surface of the water, or with it fully submerged. When in danger, the Capybara dives and swims under the surface of the water until it feels safe, and can remain submerged for 5 minutes. It can hide among aquatic vegetation with only its nostrils above the surface. Males have a protrusion on their snout, which they use to mark their territory. When moving, they always walk in a single file.



The Capybara mates in the water, more often when rainfall is high, which also provides more abundant vegetation. After a gestation period of 150 days, they give birth in open places, and the female can have from 1 to 8 cubs. These are precocial, since they are born with their eyes open, with hair covering their entire body and complete dentition, beginning to follow their mother and to feed on creeping grass soon after birth. They reach sexual maturity at 15 months.



Although not endangered, the Capybara is hunted for its skin and for being considered a very valuable animal in South America. Between 1976 and 1979 in Argentina, about 80.000 Capybara skins were exported for leather. These animals are an important food source for many large predators like Anacondas, Alligators, and Jaguars, and in some countries, they are part of the human diet. The large-scale breeding of Capybaras was a measure implemented to reduce poaching. The population of this species is quite stable, and Capybaras are often used as domestic livestock by local communities.

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