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Capybara

Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris

Capybara

Capybara are the largest rodents in the world and resemble a giant guinea pig.

The capybara is a semi-aquatic mammal, found on Central and South American riverbacks, beside ponds and in marshes. When the capybara swims, its eyes, ears and nostrils are positioned just above the water to help with vision and breathing in the water. This unusual mammal can even dive underwater and stay there for up to five minutes.

These rodents live in family groups of 10 to 40. They are incredibly vocal animals and communicate using barks, whistles, huffs and purrs. If one animal feels threatened, the whole group barks until danger has passed.

On 28 October 2016 two capybara babies, Diego and Natalia, joined us. 

Belfast Zoo’s capybaras live with some of our other South American species; the giant anteater and the Darwin’s rhea.

Habitat
Grasslands and near water

Diet - Herbivore
Capybara mainly eat grasses and aquatic plants. They also eat fruit and tree bark.

Size
Adult capybara can grow up to 130 centimetres and weigh up to 65 kilograms.

Location
Capybara are found in South America, near to water.

Conservation status
The IUCN believes the capybara is not yet in danger of extinction.

Threats
The leather from a capybara’s skin is very popular in South America. In some places the capybara population has been destroyed for this trade. They are also hunted for their meat.

Current population
Capybaras are still very common. There is insufficient data to know if the population is declining overall.

Zoo population
There are 960 capybaras in zoos across the world.

Key to acronyms

IUCN - International Union for Conservation of Nature

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