Sydney Zoo | Capybara
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Capybara

Capybara

Species Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris
Capybara
Capybara distribution mapDistribution
Capybara
Height
50-65 cm
Weight
30-70 kg
Top speed
35 km/h
Favourite Food
Grass

The capybara is a mammal native to South America and is the world’s largest living rodent. They can live singly but are normally found in groups of 2-30 individuals with one dominant breeding male.

Capybaras can be either diurnal or nocturnal depending on the hunting pressures. They are semi-aquatic mammals and can hold their breath up to five minutes at a time, with webbed feet to aid with swimming.

The species' eyes, nose and ears are located towards the top of their heads, giving capybaras the ability to see and breathe while they swim, as well as the ability to fall asleep inside the water.

Capybaras are herbivores, mainly grazing on grasses and aquatic plants, but will also eat fruits and tree bark. They will eat a larger variety of plants during the dry season as fewer plants are available. Capybaras eat their own faeces as a source of bacterial gut flora, this helps digest cellulose and to extract the maximum protein and vitamins.

Capybaras are continuously growing their front and cheek teeth to compensate for them being continually worn from eating grass.