Did you know that capybaras, sometimes referred to as greater capybaras, are the largest rodents? To put this into perspective, a full-grown capybara weighs around 108 pounds, similar to an adult wolf.
Their competitors are rats and squirrels, so it’s easy to see why capybaras are the biggest rodents. That’s not all, though. There are many interesting facts to learn about capybaras, as you will discover here.
1. Capybaras are Semi Aquatic
Native to South and Central America, you can find capybaras in regions with wetlands and forests, including Argentina, Paraguay, Venezuela, Colombia, and Panama. They are naturally semi-aquatic (they can live on land and in water). Swamps, lakes, ponds, and rivers are their primary habitats.
2. Capybaras Are Majorly Herbivores
Capybaras have long, sharp teeth suitable for feeding on water plants and green grass. They are well-known herbivores who can consume up to 8 pounds of grass daily.
However, this is not always the case. When the weather is dry, and there is little grass, capybaras can easily switch diets to melons, reeds and grains.
3. Capybaras Eat Their Poop
Speaking of the capybaras diet, the adorable animals are known for eating their poop in the morning. Yes, you heard that right! Apparently, capybaras’ poop contains proteins from the grass they eat. So, yes, capybaras eat their poop to get maximum nutrients from their food.
4. They Are the Friendliest Animals in the World
Capybaras might not look like it, but they are considered the friendliest animals in the world. Can you imagine they are more social than, say, cats? They live in herds of up to 20 animals and are very docile.
In some cases, their large, incisive teeth can scratch you mistakenly. If this happens, you should seek an immediate professional medical examination. The largely friendly animals can sometimes spread diseases like tetanus and rabies.
5. Crocodiles and Capybaras are BFFs!
As aforementioned, capybaras are semi-aquatic. Thanks to their webbed feet, they can comfortably swim across large pools of water. However, why do crocodiles don’t eat them? You might wonder. Well, the explanation is simple: capybaras are too large for crocodiles to swallow.
Capybaras are the largest rodents for a reason — and it appears the Crocs already made peace with that. As they say, if you can’t eat* them, join them. This explains the friendly relationship between crocodiles and capybaras. Unfortunately, snakes, jaguars, and caimans can still prey on them.
6. Capybaras Are As Intelligent As Dogs
Putting their social aspect aside, it’s hard to explain the emotional sophistication and complexity that capybaras possess. Additionally, they are very brilliant. If anything, scientists say that there is no difference between the most intelligent dog and a capybara.
7. If it Comes to It, Capybaras Can Be Quick.
Capybaras are most comfortable by the water’s edge –their default habitat. However, this is not to say they can’t survive on land. On the contrary, an adult capybara can run to a maximum speed of 35km/hr., which is not slow by usual standards. It is as fast as a horse.
8. They Are Odorless
Usually, you would expect animals that spend most of their time in the wild to have some odor – capybaras are not your ordinary! They are naturally fitted with an enzyme in their saliva that allows their mouth to self-cleanse.
There have been cases where some capybara owners have reported a musky odor equivalent to that of muskrats or beavers. Even so, you have to be ultra-sensitive to notice the smell.
9. Capybaras Can Hold their Breath for 5 Minutes
When on land, a capybara’s intuitive method of evading trouble is running for its life. When by the waters, it can jump in and hold its breath for up to 5 minutes. This is enough to convince their predators that they are dead or lost.
In the same breath, it’s worth noting that capybaras can sleep underwater, with only their nose above the waterline. They achieve this by pressing their ears against their heads to keep the water out.
10. They Have Interesting Body Parts and Behavior
An adult capybara can weigh up to 70 kg, with females slightly heavier than males. Due to their constant grass feeding, all of these rodents’ teeth grow at the same rate. They have webbed feet, picky ears, short legs, and vestigial tails.
The dominant male, usually the heaviest, has privileges such as living in the safest shelters away from predators. They mate with the best females, too. However, it’s not always easy to get to this position as the males have to fight until all the competitors surrender but one.