Pages that are keeping up with capybara developments more regularly than me:
Capybara Caplin Rous' blog
CapybaraJP - even if you can't read the words, the photos are great
Newish: Video of monkeys riding capybaras at a zoo in Japan
Official site of Japanese Kapibara-san
A encounter with a rodent of unusual size in Texas.
Old Favorite New Things:
A story of capybara devotion from Rio.
Don't miss the perpetual capybara machine.
The capybara, Hydrochoerus Hydrochaeris, is a semi-aquatic rodent of South America. It weighs about a hundred pounds, and is about 2 feet tall at the shoulder. To help you imagine the size of a capybara, click on the image to the right to see a picture including a human being (5 ft. tall) for scale. The two capybaras on the right are adults, the rest are juveniles.
More or Less Frequently Asked Questions: Click here for a page of capybara facts
These pictures, including capybaras eating popcorn, were taken at Southwicks Wild Animal Farm in Mendon, Mass. (south of Worcester) which we recommend highly to the capybara-minded.
The next pictures show capybaras engaging in typical behaviors like nursing, swimming, and having their exhibit cleaned at the Montreal Biodome. By the way, "capybara" is stressed on the third syllable.
This picture of a handsome male clearly shows the scent gland on his snout which he probably uses to mark his territory (click to see a larger version).
These pictures were taken at the Philadelphia Zoo.
Click on this picture for more photographs of capybaras living the good life in California...
And yet more pictures from:
Disney's Animal Kingdom - click here
Capybaras arriving at National Zoo, Washington, DC - unfortunately now they've left again, but click here for my fond memories of their arrival.
Kobe Zoo, Kobe, Japan - here
Reston Zoo, Virginia - click here
Capyboppy, a book written and illustrated by Bill Peet, published by Houghton Mifflin Company, is the true story of a capybara who actually lived with the Peet family. We highly recommend this book to any capybara fan. It is required reading for anyone who is considering trying out a capybara at home.
Quoted from The Mammals, A Guide to the Living Species by Desmond Morris, Harper & Row, New York, 1965:
Looking rather like a cross between a Guinea-pig and a Hippopotamus, the Capybara is the largest of all the I,729 species of living rodents. Extinct forms of this animal were even bigger, but the pig-sized, surviving specimens can reach an adult weight of more than IOO lb., an overall length of 4 feet and a shoulder height of 21 inches.
It lives in large groups along the river banks, where it grazes peacefully on the lush grasses and the aquatic vegetation. It comes out on to dry land to rest and bask in the sun but at the first hint of danger the whole troop dashes into the water. Its worst enemies are the Puma and the Jaguar.
Capybaras inhabiting the colder regions of South America have a long shaggy coat, but the typical form has the short, pale and rather coarse hair that can be seen in the above photograph. The face is very deep, the ears and tail are small and the feet are slightly webbed. There is a large bump in the middle of the top of the nose, which appears to be a scent gland of some kind.
Capybaras adapt easily to life in captivity and become remarkably friendly. They are rather vocal for rodents, often giving vent to a series of strange clicks, squeaks and grunts. It is important that they should be provided with a pool, as they appear to have a strong resistance to defecating or mating on dry land. The gestation period is approximately 4 months and maximum longevity about 1O years.
P.S.: Dr. Morris informs us that the capybara is his favorite rodent.
Click here for more information about capybaras in science and literature
Not for the Squeamish
We have read that capybaras may be eaten by Catholics during Lent in parts of South America, because they are aquatic. Fortunately, we have no pictures of this activity.
According to Emilio Herrera, a biologist and capybara expert
at Universidad Simon Bolivar in Caracas Venezuela:
"It is true that capybaras are eaten during Lent, but only in Venezuela, and even there not everywhere. However, its dried and salted meat is highly appreciated and is a traditional lenten dish. The annual capybara harvest is legal and regulated by government. The well-designed management plan (based on a study by Juhani Ojasti published in 1973) has been in operation for many years and is very successful, contributing income to ranchers, meat for people, and not damaging their populations."
More on capybara meat (and other products ) here.
Find a Capy
Here is a list of zoos where you might be able to see capybaras, as reported by our readers, or which we've seen on our own visits. It is impossible to keep such a list up to date, so always phone ahead before visiting any zoo to avoid committing yourself to a wild rodent chase.
Another thing to try is searching the WorldZoo ISIS Abstracts, which is an index of many species and the zoos which have them. You can search for capybaras - or any other animal - by common or Latin name. Again, this list is not updated the minute a zoo moves or loses an animal, so please don't go yelling at the poor innocent zookeepers if you get somewhere and the capybaras can't be seen.
Submitted by other loyal capybara fans:
These beauties at the Tregembo Zoo in North Carolina were sent in by journalist Jefferson Weaver. More contributions:
Capybaras on the Loose:
Buy lovely capybara buttons and magnets (other good animals too)
Wonderful capybara print by Will Bullas
Last updated 10/17/09