The capybara (also capibara) (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris) is a semi-aquatic herbivorous animal, the largest of living rodents. It is endemic to most of the tropical and temperate parts of South America east of the Andes. It has been introduced to north-central Florida and possibly other subtropical regions in the United States. It is the only living member of the family Hydrochoeridae.
Description and habits
Full-grown capybaras reach between 40 to 55 inches (105 and 135 cm) long, and weigh 75 to140 lbs (35 to 65 kg). Except for their large size, they are similar to guinea pigs in appearance. Capybaras are excellent swimmers, and have partially webbed feet. Front legs have four hind fingers and three fingers.
Capybaras spend the majority of their life in water. They mate in the water, and use water to hide from and elude predators. They can stay submerged for several minutes. It is even possible for capybaras to sleep underwater, which they accomplish by leaving their noses exposed to the air.
Although pairs or singles are often seen, capybaras are largely herd animals. The males of the species have a gland on their noses that exudes a liquid pheromone. In the mating season, they will rub this gland on the surrounding foliage to attract females. They spend most of their time on the banks of rivers, feeding in the mornings and evenings. The diet consists of vegetation such as river plants and bark.
The young ones are noticeably lighter colored than adults.