CAPYBARA Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris

Origin: South America

Also called chigüire, the capybara has a lifespan of 8 to 10 years and is the largest rodent in the world. The capybara’s gestation period is five months and babies are called pups.

Capybaras are semi-aquatic mammals found throughout most of South America with the exception of Chile. They live in densely forested areas near bodies of water, as well as flooded savannah and along rivers in tropical forest.

Capybaras have slightly webbed feet and vestigial tails. Their hind legs are slightly longer than their forelegs; they have three toes on their rear feet and four toes on their front feet. Females are slightly heavier than males.

Capybaras are herbivores, grazing mainly on grasses and aquatic plants, as well as fruit and tree bark. The capybara’s jaw hinge is not perpendicular, so they chew food by grinding back-and-forth rather than side-to-side. As is the case with other rodents, their front teeth grow continually to compensate for the constant wear from eating grasses. Capybaras can make dog-like barks when threatened or when females are herding young.

In groups capybaras are known as herds. These can consist of as many as 100 individuals during the dry season when the animals gather around available water sources, but are more commonly found in herds of 10 to 20 consisting of two to four adult males, four to seven adult females, and the remainder juveniles.

Quite agile on land (capable of running up to 35 km per hour), capybaras are equally at home in the water. They are excellent swimmers, and can remain completely submerged for up to five minutes, an ability they use to evade predators. Capybaras can sleep in water, keeping only their noses out of the water. As temperatures increase during the day, they wallow in water or mud and then graze during the late afternoon and early evening. They rest around midnight and then continue to graze before dawn.

Source: Wikipedia, San Diego Zoo