Capybara

Capybara

Mammalia

SCIENTIFIC CLASSIFICATION

COMMON NAME: capybara
KINGDOM: Animalia
PHYLUM: Chordata
CLASS: Mammalia
ORDER: Rodentia
FAMILY: Hydrochaeridae
GENUS SPECIES: Hydrochaeris hydrochaeris

FAST FACTS

DESCRIPTION: Coat is long, coarse, and somewhat sparse. Coloration on dorsal surface is reddish brown to gray, while the coloration on the ventral surface is a lighter yellow-brown. Adult males exhibit a large, bare hump atop their snout which contains rather enormous sebaceous glands. Limbs are short, while the head is large and broad. The muzzle is quite pronounced. Their digits are have short, strong claws and are partially webbed. Tail is vestigial and is therefore non-apparent.
SIZE: Head and body length = 100-130 cm (3.3-4.3 ft)
Shoulder height = up to 50 cm (1.6 ft)
WEIGHT: 27-79 kg (59.5-174.2 lb)
DIET: Mainly grasses, but also including aquatic vegetation, grains, melons, and squashes
GESTATION: 149-156 days
SEXUAL MATURITY: 15 months
LIFE SPAN: 8-12 years
RANGE: Eastern Panama through northeastern Argentina
HABITAT: Densely vegetated region adjacent to bodies of water
POPULATION: GLOBAL Unknown; stable
  REGIONAL Density in the Pantanal is roughly 7 capybara per each square kilometer
STATUS: IUCN Not listed
CITES Not listed
USFWS Not listed

FUN FACTS

1. The capybara is the world's largest living rodent.
2. Capybaras are proficient swimmers, swimming with only their nostrils, eyes, and ears above the surface. They are also known to swim underwater - sometimes for considerable distances.
3. Capybaras are social animals, living in groups of 6-20 and occasionally congregating in aggregates as large as 100 individuals. Social groups are controlled by a dominant male whose social status is vigorously and aggressively maintained.

ECOLOGY AND CONSERVATION

While often hunted for its meat and hide, the capybara remains widespread and common. Commercial ranches raising capybara have seen modest interest. Capybara ranches have the ecological advantage of maintaining areas while engaging in commercial pursuits.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Nowak, Ronald M. Walker's Mammals of the World - Volume I (Sixth Edition)