John T. Willis

Thursday, February 25, 2010


The capybara is the largest living rodent on earth. Though now extinct, there once existed a larger capybara called "Neochoerus pinckneyi," which was eight times the size of the modern capybara. The capybara has a heavy, barrel-shaped body and a short head with reddish-brown fur on the upper parts of its body that turns yellowish-brown underneath. The adult capybara is over four feet long and weighs approximately 140 pounds. However, scientists have discovered one individual at 232 pounds. The capybara has slightly webbed feet, no tail, and 20 teeth. Its back legs are slightly longer than its front legs and its muzzles are blunt with eyes, nostrils, and ears on top of its head. Its species is Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris, derived from Greek, meaning "water hog."

Capybaras reach sexual maturity within 22 months and breed when conditions are perfect, which can be once per year or throughout the year. Capybara gestation is 130-150 days and usually produces a litter of four capybara babies, but may produce between two and eight in a single litter. Birth is on land and the female rejoins the group with a few hours of delivering the newborn capybaras, which are soon mobile and join the group. The babies wean the mother in about 16 weeks, but they are already eating grass and other food. Like other rodents, the front teeth of capybaras grow continually to compensate for the constant wearing-down from eating grasses; their cheek teeth also grow continuously. When fully grown, a capybara has coarse hair that is sparsely spread over its skin, making the capybara prone to sunburn. To prevent this, it rolls in mud to protect its skin from the sun.

Capybaras are semi-aquatic mammals found all over South America in densely forested areas near bodies of water. They roam in home ranges of 25-50 acres. The diet of the capybara is grasses, fruit, and tree bark, consuming 6 to 8 pounds a day. Its jaw hing is non-perpendicular and thus chews food by grinding back and forth rather than side to side.

Capybaras are social animals, each group controlled by a dominant male. They communicate through a combination of scent and sound. They are vocal with purrs and alarm barks, whistles and clicks, squeals and grunts. They are excellent swimmers and can survive completely underwater up to five minutes to evade predators. They can sleep underwater, keeping the nose just at the waterline. They do not really sleep much, but doze off and on. They have a life span of 4 to 8 years in the wild. They are not an endangered species.

I hope YOU enjoy, appreciate, and support the capybara. This animal is another CREATION of God. Each creature is unique and special--just like YOU. Share YOUR experiences and thoughts with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


Post a Comment

<< Home