Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris

Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris

The capybara is a semiaquatic mammal that comes from South America and is the largest living rodent. Capybaras are short-haired brownish rodents with blunt snouts, short legs, small ears, and almost no tail. The eyes, ears, and nostrils of the capybara are all found near the top of the animal’s head. Capybaras can grow to 1.25m (4 feet) long, 60cm (2 feet) tall and weighing up to 66kg (145 pounds). On average the capybara will live for 8-10 years in captivity and possibly up to 4 years in the wild due to predation.


Capybaras live in herds of up to 20 members, with a dominant male, several females and their young and submissive males. The dominant male is the only member of the herd to breed with the females. Capybaras reproduce once a year, usually during a rainy season in April or May. They have a gestation period of around 150 days and the female will give birth of 2-8 pups.


Capybaras tend to rest together in the morning along the water’s edge and graze in the afternoon and evening, however if there are threats of predation, they will hold off until the cover of dark to feed. They are social animals, and bonds between them are maintained by grooming, scent marking and vocalisation. Young like to play in water and wrestle. They are excellent swimmers and can dive and remain under water for up to 5 minutes. Young will ride on mum’s back as she swims.


Capybaras are herbivores, mainly eating grasses and water plants, however in the wild they will also raid fields and eat reeds, grains, melons, bananas, sweet potato and corn.