How Big Is a Capybara?

capybara, (genus Hydrochoerus), also called carpincho or water hog, either of two species of large semiaquatic South American rodents. Capybaras inhabit forests and wetlands from Panama to Argentina. The larger of the two species, the capybara (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris), is the largest living rodent in the world, growing up to about 1.3 metres (4.3 feet) long and weighing up to 79 kg (174 pounds). The lesser capybara (H. isthmius) is smaller, growing to about 1 metre (about 3 feet) in length and weighing about 28 kg (62 pounds). Some classifications list capybaras as the only members of family Hydrochoeridae, whereas others place them within the subfamily Hydrochoerinae of the family Caviidae. Capybaras resemble the cavy and the guinea pig.

How big is a full grown capybara?

Adult capybaras grow to 106 to 134 cm (3.48 to 4.40 ft) in length, stand 50 to 62 cm (20 to 24 in) tall at the withers, and typically weigh 35 to 66 kg (77 to 146 lb), with an average in the Venezuelan llanos of 48.9 kg (108 lb). Females are slightly heavier than males.

Are capybaras good pets?

Smart, sociable animals, capybaras are affectionately called giant guinea pigs, but they are not as simple to care for as their smaller cousins. Capybaras are the largest rodents in the world, weighing up to 170 pounds. They are relatively pleasant household pets that fare best in groups.

How big is a capybara compared to a dog?

The capybara holds the title of the largest rodent in the world. They are usually between 50 to 60 centimeters tall and 106 to 134 centimeters long – as big as a medium-sized dog. They’re heavy too, weighing in between 35 and 66 kilograms.

Are capybaras giant guinea pigs?

The capybara is basically a giant guinea pig that can grow to up to 140 pounds on a diet of grass — and its own poop. These social, almost cow-like creatures are native to South America, where they spend their lives moving back and forth between grasslands and water. … They also apparently prefer to mate in water, too.

The capybara[note 1] or greater capybara (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris) is a giant cavy rodent native to South America. It is the largest living rodent[2] and a member of the genus Hydrochoerus. The only other extant member is the lesser capybara (Hydrochoerus isthmius). Its close relatives include guinea pigs and rock cavies, and it is more distantly related to the agouti, the chinchilla, and the coypu. The capybara inhabits savannas and dense forests and lives near bodies of water. It is a highly social species and can be found in groups as large as 100 individuals, but usually lives in groups of 1020 individuals. The capybara is not a threatened species and it is hunted for its meat and hide and also for grease from its thick fatty skin.[3]

The capybara is not a threatened species and it is hunted for its meat and hide and also for grease from its thick fatty skin . The scientific name , both hydrochoerus and hydrochaeris , comes from Greek ( hydro “water”) and ( choiros “pig, hog”).

[7] Since 2002, molecular phylogenetic studies have recognized a close relationship between Hydrochoerus and Kerodon , the rock cavies, [8] supporting placement of both genera in a subfamily of Caviidae . This is largely due to the recognition that capybara molar teeth show strong variation in shape over the life of an individual. Its sweat glands can be found in the surface of the hairy portions of its skin, an unusual trait among rodents.

Adult capybaras grow to 106 to 134 cm (3.48 to 4.40 ft) in length, stand 50 to 62 cm (20 to 24 in) tall at the withers , and typically weigh 35 to 66 kg (77 to 146 lb), with an average in the Venezuelan llanos of 48.9 kg (108 lb). A family of capybara swimmingCapybaras are semiaquatic mammals found throughout almost all countries of South America except Chile . Capybaras are herbivores , grazing mainly on grasses and aquatic plants , [14][24] as well as fruit and tree bark.

[26] Plants that capybaras eat during the summer lose their nutritional value in the winter, so they are not consumed at that time. [27] Capybaras are autocoprophagous , meaning they eat their own feces as a source of bacterial gut flora , to help digest the cellulose in the grass that forms their normal diet, and to extract the maximum protein and vitamins from their food. [32] Capybara groups can consist of as many as 50 or 100 individuals during the dry season when the animals gather around available water sources.

A crystalline form of scent secretion is coated on these hairs and is released when in contact with objects such as plants. Capybaras scent-mark by rubbing their morrillos on objects, or by walking over scrub and marking it with their anal glands. Mother with typical litter of about four pups.When in estrus , the female’s scent changes subtly and nearby males begin pursuit.

Breeding peaks between April and May in Venezuela and between October and November in Mato Grosso , Brazil. They are excellent swimmers, and can remain completely submerged for up to five minutes, [14] an ability they use to evade predators . As temperatures increase during the day, they wallow in water and then graze during the late afternoon and early evening.

Capybaras are not considered a threatened species ; their population is stable throughout most of their South American range, though in some areas hunting has reduced their numbers. Capybaras are hunted for their meat and pelts in some areas, [38] and otherwise killed by humans who see their grazing as competition for livestock . They can be found in many areas in zoos and parks , [27] and may live for 12 years in captivity , more than double their wild lifespan.

[19] Capybaras are docile and usually allow humans to pet and hand-feed them, but physical contact is normally discouraged, as their ticks can be vectors to Rocky Mountain spotted fever . [7] In parts of South America, especially in Venezuela, capybara meat is popular during Lent and Holy Week as the Catholic Church previously issued special dispensation to allow it to be eaten while other meats are generally forbidden . [42] Lpez de Ceballos (1974) [43] as cited in Herrera & Barreto (2013) [44] p. 307 states that after several attempts a 1784 Papal bull was obtained that allowed the consumption of capybara during Lent.

^ Also called capivara (in Brazil), capiguara (in Bolivia), chigire , chigiro , or fercho (in Colombia and Venezuela), carpincho (in Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay) and ronsoco (in Peru). B. H. (1986) Novo Dicionrio da Lngua Portuguesa , 2nd ed., Rio de Janeiro: Nova Fronteira, p.344 ^ a b c Woods, C.A. “Phylogenetic Relationships, Ecological Correlates, and Molecular Evolution Within the Cavioidea (Mammalia, Rodentia)” .

^ Deschamps, Cecilia M.; Olivares, Itat; Vieytes, Emma Carolina; Vucetich, Mara Guiomar (12 September 2007). “Ontogeny and diversity of the oldest capybaras (Rodentia: Hydrochoeridae; late Miocene of Argentina)”. “A new capybara from the late Miocene of San Juan Province, Argentina, and its phylogenetic implications” .

^ Ferraz, Katia Maria Paschoaletto Micchi de Barros; Bonach, Kelly; Verdade, Luciano Martins (2005). ^ Erick J. Lundgren, Daniel Ramp, John Rowan, Owen Middleton, Simon D. Schowanek, Oscar Sanisidro, Scott P. Carroll, Matt Davis, Christopher J. Sandom, Jens-Christian Svenning, Arian D. Wallach, James A. Estes, 2020, Introduced herbivores restore Late Pleistocene ecological functions , PNAS, 117 (14), pp.7871-7878, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America ^ Mather, Kate (18 August 2011). “Dieta del capibara Hydrochaeris hydrochaeris (Rodentia: Hydrochaeridae) en Cao Limn, Arauca, Colombia” [Distribution and abundance of Caiman crocodilus in the Cao Negro National Wild Life Refuge, Costa Rica].

^ Cueto, Gerardo Ruben; Allekotte, Roman; Kravetz, Fernando Osvaldo (January 2000). Marshall Cavendish, ISBN 0-7614-7269-X , p. 384 Capybara, the master of the grasses: pest or prey Sounds and Colours. “Behavioral anatomical and chemical aspects of scent marking among Capybaras ( Hydrochaeris hypdrochaeris ) (Rodentia: Caviomorpha)”.

^ Thompson, Andy (January 18, 2008) Trip to South America gives new meaning to outdoors life . ^ “Febre maculosa: “Os mdicos no Brasil no conhecem a doena” [Rocky Mountain spotted fever: Brazilian doctors unaware of the disease] (in Portuguese). ^ Basile, Roberta Carvalho; Yoshinari, Natalino Hajime; Mantovani, Elenice; Bonoldi, Virgnia Nazrio; Macoris, Delphim da Graa; Queiroz-Neto, Antonio de (4 October 2016).

You thought the beaver was a rodent of unusual size? The capybara is twice that bigthe biggest rodent on Earth. These impressive semi-aquatic mammals are found throughout much of northern and central South America, though a small invasive population has been seen in Florida. Theyre closely related to guinea pigs and rock cavies, and more distantly related to chinchillas and agouti.

Their toes are , and their reddish to dark brown fur is long and brittleperfect for drying out quickly on land. Small eyes, noses, and hairless ears are located high on their heads so that their faces remain exposed and alert when most of their body is submerged.

Being alert is important when youre often dinner for jaguars, pumas, and, in the water, caimans. Capybara young have even more to worry aboutthey are a favorite snack food of snakes like the boa constrictor, crab-eating foxes, small cats, and birds of prey like the caracara and black vulture. Thats when their poo is protein rich from the high number of microbes digesting the previous days meals.

Their breeding season varies throughout the year depending on what habitat they live in and the availability of mates. Though considered to have a stable population overall, in some areas capybaras are severely threatened by people who hunt them for their skin, and some local populations have been wiped out.

Capybaras are the worlds largest rodent. They dont look like the typical pests living in alleyways, though. Capybaras are as big as large dogs, have webbed feet and dont have a tail. They dont have the typical wedge-shaped face of most rodents, either. These rodents look much more like larger versions of their close relatives, guinea pigs.

(Image credit: Julie Kunen, Copyright WCS) Capybaras are social creatures. Sometimes, though, when capybaras feel threatened they will be nocturnal, which means they will stay awake at night and sleep during the day.

Eighty percent of their diet consists of only five different species of grasses, according to the San Diego Zoo. (Image credit: Ken Bohn, San Diego Zoo) Kingdom : Animalia Subkingdom : Bilateria Infrakingdom : Deuterostomia Phylum : Chordata Subphylum : Vertebrata Infraphylum : Gnathostomata Superclass : Tetrapoda Class : Mammalia Subclass : Theria Infraclass : Eutheria Order : Rodentia Suborder : Hystricomorpha Infraorder : Hystricognathi Family : Caviidae Subfamily : Hydrochoerinae Genus : Hydrochoerus Species : Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris An Amazon tribe calls the capybara Kapiyva or “master of the grasses” in their native language.

Unusual diet

Like other rodents, capybaras’ teeth grow continuously, and they wear them down by grazing on aquatic plants, grasses, and other plentiful plants.They also eat their own feces in the morning. That’s when their poo is protein rich from the high number of microbes digesting the previous day’s meals. Because the grasses they eat are so hard to digest, eating their waste essentially allows them to digest it twice.


Capybaras are from about 39 to 51 inches (100 to 130 centimeters) long and about 20 inches (50 cm) tall from foot to shoulder. They tend to weigh 60 to 174 lbs. (27 to 79 kilograms), depending on gender. Females are usually a little larger than males.


These water-loving rodents need water to keep their dry skin moist and are found only in areas with abundant water sources. Some of their moist habitats include estuaries, marshes, river banks and along streams in Central and South America, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Capybaras, also called water hogs, sleep along the water source in dense vegetation to hide from predators and to keep cool. Sometimes capybaras will nap in mud or shallow water, as well.


Capybaras are social creatures. A typical group of capybaras contains around 10 members. During the wet season, though, a group can contain around 40 members and up to 100 members during the dry season, all lead by a dominant male. A group’s home range may be from five to 494 acres (two to 200 hectares), according to the San Diego Zoo.As crepuscular animals, capybaras are most active during dawn or dusk. Sometimes, though, when capybaras feel threatened they will be nocturnal, which means they will stay awake at night and sleep during the day. The dark provides them cover while they eat and socialize so that predators are less likely to attack them.


Capybaras are herbivores and only eat vegetation. They eat mostly water plants and grasses, though grain, melons and squash can also be on the menu. Eighty percent of their diet consists of only five different species of grasses, according to the San Diego Zoo. A typical day of eating can include 6 to 8 lbs. (2.7 to 3.6 kg) of fresh grass, according to the Rainforest Alliance.


Gestation for a female capybara can last up to 120 days. She typically gives birth to around three pups at once but can have anywhere between one to seven offspring at a time.Pups weigh 2 to 3 lbs. (1 to 1.5 kg) at birth and already have teeth. They are weaned at 16 weeks. At 18 weeks, pups are as big as 88 lbs. (40 kg).Around a year old, pups leave their parent’s groups to find new ones. Females sexually mature around the age of 7 to 12 months and males mature around 15 and 24 months. They typically live six to 12 years, according to the Animal Diversity Web.


Here is the classification of capybaras, according to the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS):

Conservation Status

Capybaras are listed as least concern by the IUCN. This is because the population seems to be large, widespread and non-threatened, though the actual population of the capybara is unknown.