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Capybara
Hydrochoerus Hydrochaeris

The capybara is the world's largest rodent. You probably wouldn't find one of these scouring your kitchen late at night. The capybara can grow up to four feet long and weigh up to 145 pounds. Its body is covered in short, pale, and rather coarse hair. Its 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. The capybara is most often confused with a pig; it's short hair and squirrel like head makes it an interesting looking animal indeed! It even gives off a series of bizarre moans, squeaks, and grunts, similar to a pig.

The capybara is active during the day and almost always along Amazonian lowland lakes and rivers, into which it dives to escape danger. Although they are a bit clumsy on land, capybaras are excellent swimmers. They are more likely to be seen in the dry season when there are more river banks on which to roam. They have a strong social system that depends on how much water there is to spread out into. They often can be found in groups of up to 20. At the slightest hint of danger they leap into the water and disappear under the surface to emerge far river beaches and in the mud along lake shores. However, because they are mammals, they can't stay underwater forever. Instead, they will float in the water with their noses sticking out, getting just enough oxygen to breathe but remaining quite hidden. The capybara feeds on aquatic vegetables and also fruits. They are preyed up on by large mammals and reptiles, including large snakes, pumas, ocelots, caimans, eagles, and jaguars.

Capybaras are polygamous, which means that they mate with more than one partner during their lifetime. They mate in the water just before the rainy season. The females have litters of up to 8 young, usually about 4, and the gestation period (the time the baby develops in the mother's womb) is about 5 months. When the babies are born, the newborns follow their mothers around and eat plants almost immediately, but they still drink the mother's milk as well. The entire group of females takes care of the newborn babies. The capybara is considered some of the most superior of wild meats because it is tasty, tender, and lacks odor. It can frequently be purchased in Peru and is a quite expensive delicacy. Because of this, capybaras are widely raised in captivity to meet the demand for their market. After all, they are considered to be the holiday meal for Easter dinner. If they are not killed for their meat, they live on average about ten years.


Capybaras spend lots of time in the water; this allows them to elude predators.


Mothers keep a close eye on their babies as they search for food along the river bank. Baby capybaras are very prone to attack by predators.


Birds get a free ride in exchange for cleaning up the Capybara's coat of fur.

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