Capybara Definition | Characteristics & Facts



Capybara Definition

The capybara belongs to the family Caviidae and is closely related to guinea pigs and rock cavies. Capybaras are semi-aquatic mammals that are well-adapted to life near bodies of water, such as rivers, streams, and marshes.

Capybara General Characteristics & Facts

General Characteristics of Capybaras:

Largest Rodent

Capybaras are the largest living rodents in the world. They can weigh between 77 and 146 pounds (35 to 66 kilograms) and measure around 2 feet (60 centimeters) tall at the shoulder.


Capybaras are semi-aquatic mammals, meaning they are well-adapted to both land and water environments. They are excellent swimmers and have partially webbed feet that aid in movement through the water.

Social Animals

Capybaras are highly social creatures and live in groups called herds or bands. These herds can consist of a few individuals to over 100 capybaras, with multiple family units living together in harmony.

Herbivorous Diet

Capybaras are herbivores, primarily feeding on various plant materials, including grasses, aquatic plants, and fruits. They have special digestive adaptations, such as hindgut fermentation, to help break down the tough plant material they consume.

Peaceful Nature

Capybaras are known for their docile and gentle behavior. They are not aggressive and usually avoid conflicts. Instead, they rely on social bonding and vocalizations to communicate with each other.

Vocal Communication

Capybaras produce various vocalizations to communicate with their group members. They make sounds like whistles, barks, and purrs to express different emotions and warnings.

Matriarchal Structure

Capybara herds are often led by a dominant female, known as the alpha female, who plays a vital role in maintaining order and cohesion within the group.

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Physical Characteristics of Capybara

  1. Size: They have a robust and barrel-shaped body, measuring around 3.3 to 4.4 feet (1 to 1.3 meters) in length.
  2. Weight: Adult capybaras can weigh between 77 and 146 pounds (35 to 66 kilograms), with females generally being slightly larger than males.
  3. Height: At the shoulder, capybaras stand approximately 1.5 to 2 feet (45 to 60 centimeters) tall.
  4. Fur: Capybaras have short, coarse fur that varies in color from reddish-brown to grayish-brown. Their fur is rough and sparse, except for a dense undercoat that provides insulation.
  5. Head: Capybaras have a large, block-shaped head with short, rounded ears. Their eyes and nostrils are positioned high on their head, which allows them to keep most of their body submerged while swimming.
  6. Legs: Capybaras have relatively short and sturdy legs. Their hind legs are longer than their front legs, which contributes to their strong swimming ability.
  7. Feet: Capybaras have three partially webbed toes on their hind feet and four toes on their front feet. Their partially webbed feet help them swim and move through aquatic environments more efficiently.
  8. Tail: The tail of a capybara is short and measures about 7 to 10 inches (18 to 25 centimeters) in length. It is covered with sparse hair and serves various purposes, including communication and balance.
  9. Dental Features: Capybaras have large, continuously growing incisors that they use to graze on tough vegetation. They also have molars designed for grinding plant material.
  10. Glands: Capybaras have specialized scent glands located on their nose and anus, which they use to mark their territory and communicate with other members of their herd.

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Scientific Classification of Capybara

Scientific Classification of Capybara:

Kingdom: Animalia (Animals)

Phylum: Chordata (Chordates)

Class: Mammalia (Mammals)

Order: Rodentia (Rodents)

Family: Caviidae (Cavies)

Genus: Hydrochoerus

Species: Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris

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Capybara FAQs

What does Capybara eat?

  1. Grasses
  2. Aquatic Plants
  3. Fruits
  4. Leaves
  5. Bark
  6. Roots and Tubers
  7. Crops
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