Capybara, Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris
October 2008

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TAXONOMY

Describer (Date): Linnaeus 1766
Order: Rodentia
Family: Hydrochoeridae
Subfamily: Hydrochoerinae
Genus:Hydrochoerus
Species: Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris
Species: Hydrochoerus isthmius

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Body Weight:48.9 kg (108 lb); record 91 kg (200 lb)
Body Length:106 to 134 cm (42 to 53 in)
Tail Length:Vestigal
Pelage:Long, coarse, sparse, reddish brown


DISTRIBUTION AND STATUS

Range: Panama to NE Argentina (northern South
America east of Andes) for H. hydrochaeris.
Habitat: Lowland grassy areas bordering rivers,
ponds, lakes; need open water and dry land
IUCN Status: Lower Risk
CITES Appendix: Not listed
Population in Wild:  
ISIS captive population

BEHAVIOR AND ECOLOGY

Locomotion: One basic gait: a pace with 3 feet on
the ground; good swimmers
Activity Cycle: Grazing late pm, evening, night;
resting morning; heat of day in water
Social Groups:Highly social; up to 100
individuals at water in dry season
Diet: Selective grazers; prefer several species
of native grasses
Predators: Jaguars, puma, foxes, bush dogs, feral
dogs, ocelots, cayman, birds of prey, and humans


REPRODUCTION AND DEVELOPMENT

Sexual Maturity: Males:15 to 24 mos.;
                           Females:7 to 12 mos.
Gestation: 150 days
Litter Size: 4 to 5 pups
Birth weight: 1,500 grams (3.3 lb)
Age at Weaning: About 16 weeks
Longevity: 7 to 10 years

SPECIES HIGHLIGHTS

Feature Facts: Excellent swimmer with slightly
webbed feet; can stay underwater up to 5 minutes
Society Press: A SD Zoo male capybara named
Caba formed unusual friendship with a feral cat in
1944; the two often rested together & groomed
each other; another capybara lived nearly
10 years at the zoo, died 1939.


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