Are Capybaras Just Giant Guinea Pigs?

Capybaras are intriguing animals and have been getting more attention in the past few years. They look like giant guinea pigs and even act like them! They are extremely friendly and gentle with all kinds of animals.

How big are they?

There are two species of Capybara. Capybaras are the largest rodent in the world, with an average height of 20-24 inches! They can weigh between 60-174 pounds, with females being larger than males. They’re closely related to guinea pigs and rock cavies and are distantly related to chinchillas. They are very social and live in herds, as guinea pigs do.

They love the water!

Capybaras live near bodies of water and forests in Central and South America. They’re semi-aquatic, are excellent swimmers, and can hold their breath underwater for up to five minutes. Their webbed toes help them to swim. They have dry skin, and because of this, you’re likely to catch them hanging out in the water. A Capybara’s ears, eyes, and nose are on the top of their heads, which gives them the advantage of peaking out from the water to see if there are any predators around without being seen. Their predators include Jaguars, Pumas, Ocelots, Caimans, Eagles, and Anacondas. Humans also hunt Capybaras for their meat and hide.

Living Capybara style.

On average, they live eight to ten years. They can live longer in captivity. In the wild, they live around four years due to predators. Capybaras have four toes on their front feet and three on their back feet, like guinea pigs. They can run up to 22 mph! They’re herbivores and can’t make Vitamin C just as guinea pigs, and we can’t. A Capybara’s diet mainly consists of grasses, aquatic plants, fruit, and tree bark sometimes. Their teeth grow continuously, like most rodents. Capybaras will eat their droppings, much like guinea pigs, to get all the nutrients from their food. They also regurgitate their food like a cow.

Capybaras have a high herd mentality.

A Capybara herd usually consists of 10-20 and can range up to 100! They have four babies in an average litter, but they can have anywhere from 1-8. When they’re born, they can run and swim within hours. They have all their fur and can see when they’re born.

Here are some Capybara fun facts!

  1. There’s an image of a Capybara on the 2-peso coin of Uraguay. This coin was in production from 2011-2019.
  2. Capybaras can sleep in the water.
  3. They’re very vocal and make a variety of sounds. Some of these sounds can alert the herd of any danger.
  4. Capybaras are such calm, friendly animals that you can spot other animals riding on their back, and they don’t seem to mind the visitor!
  5. They’re one of the most social animals in the world.
  6. During Lent in South America, Capybaras are one of the few animals that are considered okay to eat. In 1784, the Pope declared Capybaras as fish meat. Other aquatic animals are also safe to eat during Lent with no consequence.
  7. Chile is the only South American country where Capybaras don’t live. The Andes Mountains prevent them from migrating over to Chile.
  8. It’s illegal to own a Capybara as a pet in some states. Always check beforehand if it’s legal and the process to keep a Capybara. Also, be sure you can handle the responsibilities!
  9. They eat 6-8 pounds of food a day!
  10. Capybaras only mate in the water.

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