Capybara are native to South America. They are found in every country there except for Chile, so they are all over the place and not endangered. They are the world’s largest rodent, and they’re naturally grazers so they got the name ‘Capybara’ because it means ‘Master of the Grasses’. Pretty fitting, but these are also semi-aquatic animals.
Capybara do everything they can in the water; eat, sleep, poop, mate, pee in the water. The way they sleep is just by keeping their nose up with the rest of their body underneath the water. They are also capable of fully submerging themselves for up to five minutes at a time, which they will do to escape a predator or a bad mate.
This species is a herd animal, typically found in groups of 10 to 20, but they have been found in groups up to 100 strong. There is usually one alpha male, a bunch of females, and then a bunch of adolescents. When the young males reach reproductive age, they get kicked out of their group or fight for a spot.
We got Leonardo from the North Georgia Zoo, he just got a little bit too old for his group. Leo is 6 years old now, so he’s not getting any bigger, but the max weight for boys is usually in the 140s. The males also have a scent gland on top of their nose so it looks like he’s going bald but that’s just what he uses to mark their territory. They rub it on whatever they want to label as their own.
Lulu is our girl. We got her from a sanctuary in Tennessee that was running out of herd space. Capybara typically have 6-8 per litter, so you can run out of room fast. She’s about 3 years old now, absolutely LOVES people, and the feeling is mutual. If you scratch her well enough, she might roll over for you, and at that point you can rub her belly like a dog.
Pictured Above: Leonardo (male), Lulu (female)