Capybara on the Loose

An encounter with a rodent of unusual size in East Texas

Discussion of a possible feral capybara in England.

Click here for a picture of a capybara seen in the wild in Shreveport, LA, sent in by a reader in May 2005.

Capybara news from Ohio

Another report from 2005: I saw a capybara outside of Medina Texas on the evening of June 27, It was
on the bank of the Medina River on the North prong 5 miles north of hwy 16
on FM 2107. I spotted it at 11:30 pm. My sighting was confirmed by local
game warden.

This was sent by a reader in March 2005 - the capy reportedly escaped from a drive-through animal park.


Tuesday, August 24, 2004
Runaway rodent can grow to 100 pounds


By William Croyle
Enquirer contributor

FLORENCE - A member of the world's largest species of rodent is on the
loose and could be in a garden or pond near you.

Missing: 7 week old female capybara. Answers to the name 'Speak'. Will
most likely be in or near water. Weighs approximately 13-15 lbs, about the
size of a large groundhog. Has a metal tag on her left ear with the number
440 on it.

Susan and Travis Fessler's capybara - named Speak - escaped from their
Raintree Road home Aug. 15, a day after they got her from an Arkansas

The aquatic, South American animal resembles a guinea pig, but can grow to
more than 100 pounds before its second birthday.

Right now she's 7 weeks old, 15 pounds, very quick and elusive. Susan
Fessler is determined to find her.

"If she sees me, she'll probably run, but I'll catch her," said Susan, a
Boone County animal control officer.

The Fesslers bought Speak as a pet to train and use in Travis' "Pickled
Brothers Sideshow" act. But Speak pried through her kennel wires in the
back yard and slipped through a hole in the fence.

The Fesslers spent a year researching the animal and four months securing
county and state permits to keep her at their home.

Capybaras are nocturnal, vegetarian and can live in water. They're not
considered harmful to people unless threatened.

The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo has had capybaras for more than 25 years, and
has three today.

"If they bite you, they can hurt you," said Don Kuenzer, curator of the
zoo's rainforest.


December 2004: I am a birder located in Texas County, Missouri today I went out birding with my camera and spotted a very strange sight for this neck of the woods. I thought that I knew what this animal was but wanted to be sure so submitted its picture to several mailing lists I belong to and they confirmed that I have discovered the first wild capybara in Missouri. Here is a low res. picture of it if you wish I can send you the larger unedited picture of it. This one appeared to be about 45 lbs. about the size of a bulldog. I got several shots of it but this is the best of the lot. 


Sarasota, Florida, Capybara report: Sunday, June 8th, 2001, a roadkill discovered by a park ranger from Myakka
River State Park was identified as an adult capybara. The animal was
killed on State Road 72, just east of the Myakka River Bridge. The
bridge crosses the river at a large floodplain marsh.

Paula Benshoff
Park Naturalist
Myakka River State Park


From 1999:

My name is Lars Andersen. I am an outdoor guide in north Florida. Recently, on an exploration of a beautiful, remote section of the upper Santa Fe river, I stopped on an open sandy bank on the riverside to rest. Across the river, beyond the trees lining the river, there was a large grassy meadow. The sun was setting and I was enjoying the play of light and colors on the tall grasses and trees as they swayed in the breeze. Suddenly, what I had taken for a stump started to move. I could not tell what it was, but I was fairly certain this was nothing I had ever seen in over thirty years of exploring Florida's wildest areas. I quickly shed most of my clothes and slipped into the water carrying only my camera (unfortunately it was one of those cheap disposable deals with no frills). On the far bank, I slipped up behind a large live oak tree and peekad around. There, to my amazement, was a capybara. I had seen enough National Geo specials and Wild Kingdom episodes to recognize it right away. It was still 50 - 60 feet away, but I took a picture anyway. Just in case. Then I got down on all fours and crept towards it. As I approached it slowly sauntered toward the nearby tree line. By the the time I came within camera range, he was into the trees. I took another picture. This startled him and he started moving quicker toward the river. Realizing this encounter was quickly coming to an end, and wanting just one good picture, I sprinted after it. I heard a splash and as I reached the water I could see the ripples where he had gone in. Just then his head popped up the surface. He looked at me and in an instant was under again. I never saw him again. With darkness fast approaching, I could not spend any more time waiting for him to reappear and headed on.

     The next day I contacted a wildlife officer. To my amazement he told me that there was a population of capybaras that have recently escaped captivity in north Florida and are apparently thriving in our sub-tropical climate. One colony is said to be comprised of nearly 60 individuals. I intend to find out more about them and spend some time observing them. If you or any of your members are ever in north Florida give me a call and I'll let you know what I've found out. If you don't mind getting dirty and wet, we could possibly even hike or kayak out and see if we can spot somne. I can be reached at (904) 454-0611. Or you can E-mail me at  I also have a website for my store. It is Give us a call!


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