(Hydrochaeris hydrochaeris)




Facts about this animal

The capybara is the largest rodent, reaching a total length of about 120 cm, a shoulder height of 56 cm, and a body-weight of 50 kg or more. The tail is very short, only about 15 mm long. The head is large and broad with a pronounced muzzle. Their eyes, their short and blackish ears and their nostrils are high up on the heads, so they can see and breathe while swimming. The limbs are short. They have 4 toes on the front feet and 3 on the rear and the toes are connected by a partial web. In the adult male, a bare raised glandular area on top of the snout is conspicuous.


The female has 5 or 6 pairs of ventrolateral mammae. The external genitals of both sexes are hidden by an anal fold. The long, coarse pelage is very sparse and is reddish-brown to grey on the dorsal surface and lighter yellow-brown on the ventral surface. Capybaras are are normally crepuscular, which means that they are active at twilight. They are semi-aquatic resting often in water during the heat of the day. Capybaras are social animals gathering in groups of around 20 individuals. These herds consist of a dominant male, several adult females with young and young males.


After a gestation period of 120 days the female gives birth to a litter of 1-7 precocious young. The neonates weigh about 1400 g and are weaned at an age of about 10 weeks. The capybara is a grazing herbivore, eating mainly grasses and aquatic plants.

Did you know?
That the capybara is the largest rodent in the world and can reach a weight of 35 to 65 kg? There is even a record of a capybara with a weight of 105.4 kg.


Name (Scientific) Hydrochaeris hydrochaeris
Name (English) Capybara
Name (French) Capybara
Name (German) Capybara, Wasserschwein
Name (Spanish) Carpincho, Chig├╝ire, Capihuara, Ronsoco
Local names Portuguese: Capivara
CITES Status Not listed
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by



Range South America (Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, French Guiana, Guyana, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela)
Habitat Swamps, marshes and forests near ponds, lakes, rivers and streams. They spend the majority of their life in water.
Wild population Unknown. In many areas, populations are stable. Their range is greatly reduced due to habitat destruction and hunting, but capybaras are not yet considered threatened.
Zoo population 865 reported to ISIS (2009)

In the Zoo



How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 80 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
Madelaine Moinat

Why do zoos keep this animal

The capybara is a common species which is kept by zoos for educational reasons, because it is the largest rodent, and as an ambassador species for the conservation of neotropical wetlands.