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Five Fun Facts About Capybaras

Ever seen a guinea pig with the weight of a fully grown human? If you go discover the Amazon River in South America, chances are good you might stumble across a herd of capybaras – one of the closest relatives of guinea pigs, just quite a lot bigger! Capybaras have recently gained surprising amounts of public attention and have become popular internet celebrities. Wonder why? Check out the following five fun facts about capybaras and let us show you why these bizarre but cute-looking rodents take everyone’s heart by storm.

1. The world’s largest rodents

Capybaras are the largest rodents on Earth – but how big are we talking exactly? The weight of these friendly mammals varies a lot, but on average they tip the scales at about 50kg (110 pounds). However, the biggest capybara ever recorded weighed a whopping 91kg (200 pounds). That’s comparable to a fully grown human being!

2. Semi-aquatic jack of all trades

Native to South America, capybaras like to be close to the water and hence can mainly be found near lakes, swamps, or rivers like the Amazon. They are considered semi-aquatic, meaning that they are well-adapted to stay both on land and in water.  On the one hand, these furry creatures are surprisingly agile on land while reaching a speed of up to 35km/h, allowing them to escape predators such as anacondas, caimans, or jaguars with the speed of a horse! On the other hand, capybaras are exceptional swimmers and gifted with webbed toes, fast-drying fur, and their eyes, nose, and ears located high on their heads to be able to hide away from predators while underwater. Talk about a jack of all trades!

3. Weird food preferences

What’s for dinner? For capybaras, the answer to that is clear: Anything plant-based! The herbivores mainly feed on grasses, fruit, and aquatic plants. And they’re quite picky about that, too! Capybaras will do their best to avoid anything that isn’t their first choice of grass species. On another note, though, they do eat their own poop to retrieve maximum nutrition from their previously digested food.

What’s more – as is the case with all fellow members of the order of rodents, capybaras’ teeth are continually growing throughout their lifespan as chewing on plants constantly grinds down their teeth at a quick pace.

Capybara in the sun. Credit: Shutterstock.

4. Underwater naps

As mentioned before, capybaras are quite some water lovers. They can actually dive underwater for up to five minutes at a time! In fact, it’s not uncommon for them to fall asleep underwater and to take a proper nap with only their noses sticking out of the water to breathe. Sounds like the perfect place for a nap!

5. Capybaras are highly social

Capybaras seem to get along with pretty much everyone! They are known to be highly social and usually live in herds of about ten to twenty individuals. It’s not only their fellow rodents they enjoy keeping company – Capybaras are regularly spotted giving lifts to other animals. Among others, birds, rabbits, and monkeys can regularly be seen sitting on the back of a friendly capybara to hitch a hike. The good news is that capybaras are super chill about it and therefore commonly known as ‘moving chairs’. Sounds much like a five-star Uber ride to us!

Never seen a Capybara? Visit Pantanal, Brasil and look for this incredible animal. Photo credit: Shutterstock

Fancy a meet-and-greet with these sociable fellas?

If visiting the capybaras home, the Amazonas River, is on your bucket list, make sure to have a closer look at our South America homepage for further inspiration.

Check out our Amazon River Cruises and contact our team to plan your trip of a lifetime with us!

Written By chimu