The capybara or greater capybara with the scientific name Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris is a giant cavy rodent native to South America. It is the largest living rodent and a member of the genus Hydrochoerus. The only other extant member is the lesser capybara (Hydrochoerus isthmius). Its close relatives include guinea pigs and rock cavies, and it is more distantly related to the agouti, the chinchilla, and the nutria. The capybara inhabits savannas and dense forests and lives near bodies of water. It is a highly social species and can be found in groups as large as 100 individuals, but usually live in groups of 10–20 individuals. The capybara is hunted for its meat and hide and also for grease from its thick fatty skin. It is not considered a threatened species. The capybara is the largest rodent in the world. Some can weigh up to 150 pounds! Then again, these massive rodents don’t really look like rodents at all, perhaps more like giant guinea pigs. Capybaras are herbivores who eat grasses, aquatic plants, fruits, seeds, and nuts. In fact, “capybara” comes from a complex Tupi word that means “slender leaf eater”.

Species of Capybara

There are actually two different species of capybaras in the world: the common capybara (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris) is the largest living rodent in the world, growing up to about 1.3 metres (4.3 feet) long and weighing up to 79 kg (174 pounds) and the lesser capybara (Hydrochoerus isthmius). The lesser capybara is only found in Panama and Colombia and is the smaller of the two species of capybara. They only weigh a mere 60-80 pounds! That’s nearly half the size of their larger cousins. But how did these two animals come to have such radically different sizes?

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It all comes down to diet. Both species of capybara are vegetarians, but the lesser capybara has a more restricted diet than its larger cousin. The lesser capybara mainly feeds on leaves, stems, and fruits, while the larger variety will also eat aquatic plants and even small turtles. This difference in diet is due to habitat; the lesser capybaras live in dry forests and don’t have access to the same water sources as their larger cousins.

Features of Capybara

They are the largest living rodent in the world, resembles a large guinea pig and has a barrel-shaped body with a heavy, blunt muzzle. Their cheek teeth ever-growing, used for grazing on aquatic plants, grasses, and other plentiful plants. Capybara have front legs shorter than rear legs and their nails are so strong like hoof. They spend a lot of time in water and their eyes and small ears set high on head (can be alert while nearly underwater)

Breeding and Population

Capybaras don’t mind being alone, but they also live in groups of up to 40. Their breeding season varies throughout the year depending on what habitat they live in and the availability of mates. Females usually have one litter of four to five young per year.

Though considered to have a stable population overall, in some areas capybaras are severely threatened by people who hunt them for their skin, and some local populations have been wiped out.


Capybaras are very social animals and communicate with each other through a variety of vocalizations and body language. They will often greet one another by bumping their heads together and will rub their bodies against each other to show affection.


They associate in groups along the banks of lakes and rivers. They normally feed in the morning and evening and spend most of the day resting under cover along the banks. They are vegetarian and in cultivated areas sometimes become pests by eating melons, grain, and squash.

Capybaras use various vocalizations to communicate, from soft coos to loud barks. They can also make a rattling noise by shaking their fur.



Capybaras are the largest rodents in the world, and they can weigh up to 150 pounds or more. That’s bigger than many decent-sized dogs! The average capybara is about two feet tall at the shoulder and four feet long from head to tail. Male capybaras are generally bigger than females.

The average weight of an adult male capybara is 70 to 120 pounds. However, some individuals can weigh as much as 150 pounds or more! Females tend to be smaller than males, with adult females generally weighing between 50 and 112 pounds. Baby capybara weigh varies they are born between 2 to 4 pounds and do eat solid food pretty early. They are known to be born with a full furred body. After about 18 weeks, male capybaras usually weigh between 100 and 130 pounds at this time, while females typically weigh between 90 and 110 pounds.

Capybara size can vary quite a bit depending on the individual animal’s age, gender, and health. For example, an older or sick capybara is likely to weigh less than a younger, healthier one. In general, though, most capybaras fall within the weight range mentioned above.


Capybaras are found in Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Peru, Brazil, Paraguay, Northeast Argentina and Uruguay. They are semi-aquatic and will spend most of their time in dense vegetation around rivers, lakes, ponds, marshes and swamps.


Are they Friendly or not?

Overall, capybaras are very friendly animals and are not dangerous. In fact, they are considered the friendliest animal on the planet! Capybaras are docile and peaceful animals, and not much seems to bother them. These adorable creatures are extremely social and live together in large herds of 10 to 20 animals on average. Capybaras are family-oriented and spend time together playing, socializing, cuddling, and grooming one another.

Female capybaras, in particular, are very compassionate and caring, not only to other capybaras but to other species as well. In fact, capybaras sometimes “adopt” other animals and foster them until they are old enough to take care of themselves!

Even when they do not “adopt” other animals, capybaras can commonly be seen napping alongside the water’s edge with turtles, ducks, birds, and even monkeys. In captivity, capybaras often make friends with cats and dogs as well. Believe it or not, it is not all that uncommon for a capybara to even be seen near or with predators like crocodiles or alligators!

Sometimes capybaras even act as animal taxis, allowing smaller animals to ride on their backs! It’s not uncommon to see a bird perched calmly on top of a capybara. Yellow-headed caracaras, in particular, are quite fond of capybaras. They even act as cleaning crews, picking off ticks and other bugs from the capybaras’ fur. Researchers have observed capybaras sprawling out and exposing sores and other areas on their bodies to the birds, who quickly come in and take care of any pesky bug.