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Brief Summary

    Capybara: Brief Summary
    provided by wikipedia
    This article is about the animal. For the video game developer, see Capybara Games. For test automation software, see Capybara (software).

    The capybara (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris) is a mammal native to South America. It is the largest living rodent in the world. Also called chigüire, chigüiro (in Venezuela) and carpincho, it is a member of the genus Hydrochoerus, of which 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 10–20 individuals. The capybara is not a threatened species but it is hunted for its meat and hide and also for grease from its thick fatty skin, which is used in the pharmaceutical trade.

Comprehensive Description

    Capybara
    provided by wikipedia
    This article is about the animal. For the video game developer, see Capybara Games. For test automation software, see Capybara (software).

    The capybara (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris) is a mammal native to South America. It is the largest living rodent in the world. Also called chigüire, chigüiro (in Venezuela) and carpincho, it is a member of the genus Hydrochoerus, of which 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 10–20 individuals. The capybara is not a threatened species but it is hunted for its meat and hide and also for grease from its thick fatty skin, which is used in the pharmaceutical trade.[2]

    Etymology

    Its common name is derived from Tupi ka'apiûara, a complex agglutination of kaá (leaf) + píi (slender) + ú (eat) + ara (a suffix for agent nouns), meaning "one who eats slender leaves", or "grass-eater"[3]. Capybaras were called several times "Cuartins" in Colombia in 2018: in Eje Cafetero (Alcalà) and near Barranquilla where the meat was offered as "Cuartin Asado".

    The scientific name, both hydrochoerus and hydrochaeris, comes from Greek ὕδωρ (hydor "water") and χοῖρος (choiros "pig, hog").[4][5]

    Classification and phylogeny

    The capybara and the lesser capybara belong to the subfamily Hydrochoerinae along with the rock cavies. The living capybaras and their extinct relatives were previously classified in their own family Hydrochoeridae.[6] Since 2002, molecular phylogenetic studies have recognized a close relationship between Hydrochoerus and Kerodon, the rock cavies,[7] supporting placement of both genera in a subfamily of Caviidae.[4] Paleontological classifications have yet to incorporate this new taxonomy and continue to use Hydrochoeridae for all capybaras, while using Hydrochoerinae for the living genus and its closest fossil relatives, such as Neochoerus.[8][9] The taxonomy of fossil hydrochoerines is also in a state of flux. In recent years, the diversity of fossil hydrochoerines has been substantially reduced.[8][9] This is largely due to the recognition that capybara molar teeth show strong variation in shape over the life of an individual.[8] In one instance, material once referred to four genera and seven species on the basis of differences in molar shape is now thought to represent differently aged individuals of a single species, Cardiatherium paranense.[8]

    Description

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    Taxidermy specimen of a Capybara
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    Capybara skeleton

    The capybara has a heavy, barrel-shaped body and short head, with reddish-brown fur on the upper part of its body that turns yellowish-brown underneath. Its sweat glands can be found in the surface of the hairy portions of its skin, an unusual trait among rodents.[6] The animal lacks down hair, and its guard hair differs little from over hair.[citation needed]

    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).[10][11][12] Females are slightly heavier than males. The top recorded weights are 91 kg (201 lb) for a wild female from Brazil and 73.5 kg (162 lb) for a wild male from Uruguay.[6][13] Also a 81 kg individual was reported in São Paulo in 2001 or 2002.[14] The dental formula is 1.0.1.31.0.1.3.[6] Capybaras have slightly webbed feet and vestigial tails.[6] Their hind legs are slightly longer than their forelegs; they have three toes on their rear feet and four toes on their front feet.[15] Their muzzles are blunt, with nostrils, and the eyes and ears are near the top of their heads.

    Its karyotype has 2n = 66 and FN = 102.[4][6]

    Ecology

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    Yellow-headed caracara on a capybara

    Capybaras are semiaquatic mammals[12] found throughout almost all countries of South America except Chile.[16] They live in densely forested areas near bodies of water, such as lakes, rivers, swamps, ponds, and marshes,[11] as well as flooded savannah and along rivers in the tropical rainforest. Capybara have flourished in cattle ranches.[6] They roam in home ranges averaging 10 hectares (25 acres) in high-density populations.[6]

    Many escapees from captivity can also be found in similar watery habitats around the world. Sightings are fairly common in Florida, although a breeding population has not yet been confirmed.[17] In 2011, one specimen was spotted on the Central Coast of California.[18]

    Diet and predation

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    Cattle Tyrant on a capybara

    Capybaras are herbivores, grazing mainly on grasses and aquatic plants,[11][19] as well as fruit and tree bark.[12] They are very selective feeders[20] and feed on the leaves of one species and disregard other species surrounding it. They eat a greater variety of plants during the dry season, as fewer plants are available. While they eat grass during the wet season, they have to switch to more abundant reeds during the dry season.[21] Plants that capybaras eat during the summer lose their nutritional value in the winter, so are not consumed at that time.[20] The capybara's jaw hinge is not perpendicular, so they chew food by grinding back-and-forth rather than side-to-side.[22] 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. They may also regurgitate food to masticate again, similar to cud-chewing by cattle.[23] As is the case with other rodents, the front teeth of capybaras grow continually to compensate for the constant wear from eating grasses;[16] their cheek teeth also grow continuously.[22]

    Like its relative the guinea pig, the capybara does not have the capacity to synthesize vitamin C, and capybaras not supplemented with vitamin C in captivity have been reported to develop gum disease as a sign of scurvy.[24]

    They can have a lifespan of 8–10 years,[25] but live less than four years in the wild, because they are "a favourite food of jaguar, puma, ocelot, eagle, and caiman".[16] The capybara is also the preferred prey of the anaconda.[26]

    Social organization

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    Capybaras have a scent gland on their noses, called a morillo

    Capybaras are gregarious. While they sometimes live solitarily, they are more commonly found in groups of around 10–20 individuals, with two to four adult males, four to seven adult females, and the remainder juveniles.[27] Capybara groups can consist of as many as 50 or 100 individuals during the dry season[23][28] when the animals gather around available water sources. Males establish social bonds, dominance, or general group consensus.[clarification needed][28] They can make dog-like barks[23] when threatened or when females are herding young.[29]

    Capybaras have two types of scent glands; a morillo (Spanish for "andiron"), located on the snout, and anal glands.[30] Both sexes have these glands, but males have much larger morillos and use their anal glands more frequently. The anal glands of males are also lined with detachable hairs. A crystalline form of scent secretion is coated on these hairs and is released when in contact with objects such as plants. These hairs have a longer-lasting scent mark and are tasted by other capybaras. Capybaras scent-mark by rubbing their morillos on objects, or by walking over scrub and marking it with their anal glands. Capybaras can spread their scent further by urinating; however, females usually mark without urinating and scent-mark less frequently than males overall. Females mark more often during the wet season when they are in estrus. In addition to objects, males also scent-mark females.[30]

    Reproduction

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    Mother with typical litter of four pups

    When in estrus, the female's scent changes subtly and nearby males begin pursuit.[31] In addition, a female alerts males she is in estrus by whistling through her nose.[23] During mating, the female has the advantage and mating choice. Capybaras mate only in water, and if a female does not want to mate with a certain male, she either submerges or leaves the water.[23][28] Dominant males are highly protective of the females, but they usually cannot prevent some of the subordinates from copulating.[31] The larger the group, the harder it is for the male to watch all the females. Dominant males secure significantly more matings than each subordinate, but subordinate males, as a class, are responsible for more matings than each dominant male.[31] The lifespan of the capybara's sperm is longer than that of other rodents.[32]

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    Mother and three pups

    Capybara gestation is 130–150 days, and produces a litter of four capybara young on average, but may produce between one and eight in a single litter.[6] Birth is on land and the female rejoins the group within a few hours of delivering the newborn capybaras, which join the group as soon as they are mobile. Within a week, the young can eat grass, but continue to suckle—from any female in the group—until weaned around 16 weeks. The young form a group within the main group.[16] Alloparenting has been observed in this species.[28] Breeding peaks between April and May in Venezuela and between October and November in Mato Grosso, Brazil.[6]

    Activities

    Though quite agile on land (capable of running as fast as a horse),[33] capybaras are equally at home in the water. They are excellent swimmers, and can remain completely submerged for up to five minutes,[11] an ability they use to evade predators. Capybaras can sleep in water, keeping only their noses out of the water. As temperatures increase during the day, they wallow in water and then graze during the late afternoon and early evening.[6] They also spend time wallowing in mud.[15] They rest around midnight and then continue to graze before dawn.

    Conservation and human interaction

    Video of captive capybaras resting
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    Capybaras in a bath at Izu Shaboten Park in Japan

    Capybaras are not considered a threatened species;[1] their population is stable throughout most of their South American range, though in some areas hunting has reduced their numbers.[11][16]

    Capybaras are hunted for their meat and pelts in some areas,[34] and otherwise killed by humans who see their grazing as competition for livestock. In some areas, they are farmed, which has the effect of ensuring the wetland habitats are protected. Their survival is aided by their ability to breed rapidly.[16]

    Capybaras have adapted well to urbanization in South America. They can be found in many areas in zoos and parks,[22] and may live for 12 years in captivity.[16] Capybaras are gentle 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.[35]

    The European Association of Zoos and Aquaria asked Drusillas Park in Alfriston, Sussex, England to keep the studbook for capybaras, to monitor captive populations in Europe. The studbook includes information about all births, deaths and movements of capybaras, as well as how they are related.[36]

    Capybaras are farmed for meat and skins in South America.[37] The meat is considered unsuitable to eat in some areas, while in other areas it is considered an important source of protein.[6] 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.[38]

    Although it is illegal in some states,[39] capybaras are occasionally kept as pets in the United States.[40]

    The image of a capybara features on the 2-peso coin of Uruguay.[41]

    In Japan, following the lead of Izu Shaboten Park in 1982,[42] multiple establishments in Japan that raise capybaras have adopted the practice of having them relax in onsen during the winter.

    See also

    References

    1. ^ a b Reid, F. (2016). "Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2016: e.T10300A22190005. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-2.RLTS.T10300A22190005.en. Retrieved 1 May 2017..mw-parser-output cite.citation{font-style:inherit}.mw-parser-output q{quotes:"""""'"'"}.mw-parser-output code.cs1-code{color:inherit;background:inherit;border:inherit;padding:inherit}.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-free a{background:url("//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/65/Lock-green.svg/9px-Lock-green.svg.png")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-limited a,.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-registration a{background:url("//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/d6/Lock-gray-alt-2.svg/9px-Lock-gray-alt-2.svg.png")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-subscription a{background:url("//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/aa/Lock-red-alt-2.svg/9px-Lock-red-alt-2.svg.png")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration{color:#555}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription span,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration span{border-bottom:1px dotted;cursor:help}.mw-parser-output .cs1-hidden-error{display:none;font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-visible-error{font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration,.mw-parser-output .cs1-format{font-size:95%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-left,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-left{padding-left:0.2em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-right,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-right{padding-right:0.2em}
    2. ^ Capybara (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris). ARKive.org
    3. ^ Ferreira, A. B. H. (1986) Novo Dicionário da Língua Portuguesa, 2nd ed., Rio de Janeiro: Nova Fronteira, p.344
    4. ^ a b c Woods, C.A.; Kilpatrick, C.W. (2005). "Infraorder Hystricognathi". In Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M. Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 1556. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
    5. ^ Darwin, Charles R. (1839). Narrative of the surveying voyages of His Majesty's Ships Adventure and Beagle between the years 1826 and 1836, describing their examination of the southern shores of South America, and the Beagle's circumnavigation of the globe. Journal and remarks. 1832–1836. London: Henry Colburn. p. 619.
    6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Mones, Alvaro; Ojasti, Juhani (16 June 1986). "Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris. Brisson, 1762". Mammalian Species. 264 (264): 1–7. doi:10.2307/3503784. JSTOR 3503784.
    7. ^ Rowe, D. L.; Honeycutt, R. L. (2002). "Phylogenetic relationships, ecological correlates, and molecular evolution within the Cavioidea (Mammalia, Rodentia)". Molecular Biology and Evolution. 19 (3): 263–277. doi:10.1093/oxfordjournals.molbev.a004080. PMID 11861886.
    8. ^ a b c d Vucetich, M. G.; Deschamps, C. M.; Olivares, A. I.; Dozo, M. T. (2005). "Capybaras, size, shape, and time: A model kit". Acta Palaeontologica Polonica. 50 (2): 259–272. Retrieved 2012-05-21.
    9. ^ a b Deschamps, C. M.; Olivares, A. I.; Vieytes, E. C.; Vucetich, M. G. (2007). "Ontogeny and diversity of the oldest capybaras (Rodentia: Hydrochoeridae; late Miocene of Argentina)". Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. 27 (3): 683–692. doi:10.1671/0272-4634(2007)27[683:oadoto]2.0.co;2. JSTOR 30126368.
    10. ^ Capybara, Arkive
    11. ^ a b c d e Capybara Facts. Smithsonian National Zoological Park. Retrieved on December 16, 2007.
    12. ^ a b c Capybara. Palm Beach Zoo. Retrieved on December 17, 2007.
    13. ^ World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. WAZA. Retrieved on 2011-12-07.
    14. ^ "Relationship Between Body Mass and Body Length in Capybaras (Hydrochoerus Hydrochaeris)" (PDF). Retrieved June 29, 2018.
    15. ^ a b "Capybara Printout". Enchantedlearning.com. Retrieved 2013-05-27.
    16. ^ a b c d e f g Bristol Zoo Gardens (UK) ''Capybara'' Archived 2007-09-18 at the Wayback Machine.. Bristolzoo.org.uk. Retrieved on 2011-12-07.
    17. ^ "Nonnatives – Capybara". myfwc.com.
    18. ^ Mather, Kate (18 August 2011). "A gnawing question answered: It's a capybara roaming Paso Robles". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 10 January 2012.
    19. ^ Forero-Montana J, Betancur J, Cavelier J (2003). "Dieta del capibara Hydrochaeris hydrochaeris (cavia: Hydrochaeridae) en Caño Limón, Arauca, Colombia". Revista de Biología Tropical. 51 (2): 571–578. PMID 15162749. PDF
    20. ^ a b Quintana, R.D.; S. Monge; A.I. Malvárez (1998). "Feeding patterns of capybara Hydrochaeris hypdrochaeris (Rodentia, Hydrochaeridae) and cattle in the non-insular area of the Lower Delta of the Parana River, Argentina". Mammalia. 62 (1): 37–52. doi:10.1515/mamm.1998.62.1.37.
    21. ^ Barreto, Guillermo R.; Herrera, Emilio A. (1998). "Foraging patterns of capybaras in a seasonally flooded savanna of Venezuela". Journal of Tropical Ecology. 14: 87. doi:10.1017/S0266467498000078. JSTOR 2559868.
    22. ^ a b c Capybara. Hydrochaeris hydrochaeris. San Francisco Zoo
    23. ^ a b c d e Lord-Rexford, D. (1994). "A descriptive account of capybara behaviour". Studies on Neotropical Fauna and Environment. 29 (1): 11–22. doi:10.1080/01650529409360912.
    24. ^ Cueto, GR; Allekotte, R; Kravetz, FO (2000). "Scurvy in capybaras bred in captivity in Argentine". Journal of Wildlife Diseases. 36 (1): 97–101. doi:10.7589/0090-3558-36.1.97. PMID 10682750.
    25. ^ Burton M and Burton R. (2002) The International Wildlife Encyclopedia. Marshall Cavendish, ISBN 0-7614-7269-X, p. 384
    26. ^ Capybara, the master of the grasses: pest or prey Sounds and Colours. Retrieved on January 23, 2011.
    27. ^ Alho C. J. R.; Rondon N. L. (1987). "Habitats, population densities, and social structure of capybaras (Hydrochaeris hypdrochaeris, Rodentia) in the Pantanal, Brazil". Revista Brasileira de Zoologia. 4 (2): 139–149. doi:10.1590/s0101-81751987000200006.
    28. ^ a b c d Macdonald, D. W. (1981). "Dwindling resources and the social behavior of Capybaras, (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris) (Mammalia)". Journal of Zoology. 194 (3): 371–391. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7998.1981.tb04588.x.
    29. ^ Murphey, R; Mariano, J; Mouraduarte, F (1985). "Behavioral observations in a capybara colony (Hydrochaeris hypdrochaeris)". Applied Animal Behaviour Science. 14: 89. doi:10.1016/0168-1591(85)90040-1.
    30. ^ a b Macdonald, D. W.; Krantz, K.; Aplin, R. T. (1984). "Behavioral anatomical and chemical aspects of scent marking among Capybaras (Hydrochaeris hypdrochaeris) (Rodentia: Caviomorpha)". Journal of Zoology. 202 (3): 341–360. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7998.1984.tb05087.x.
    31. ^ a b c Herrera, Emilio A.; MacDonald, David W. (1993). "Aggression, dominance, and mating success among capybara males (Hydrochaeris hypdrochaeris)". Behavioral Ecology. 4 (2): 114. doi:10.1093/beheco/4.2.114.
    32. ^ Paula, T.A.R.; Chiarini-Garcia, H.; França, L.R. (1999). "Seminiferous epithelium cycle and its duration in capybaras (Hydrochaeris hypdrochaeris)". Tissue and Cell. 31 (3): 327–34. doi:10.1054/tice.1999.0039. PMID 10481304.
    33. ^ The Life of Mammals – "Chisellers"
    34. ^ Thompson, Andy (January 18, 2008) Trip to South America gives new meaning to outdoors life. Richmond Times.
    35. ^ "Febre maculosa: "Os médicos no Brasil não conhecem a doença" [Rocky Mountain spotted fever: Brazilian doctors unaware of the disease] (in Portuguese). drauziovarella.com.br. Retrieved 2015-08-13.
    36. ^ "Conservation at Drusillas Park". Drusillas.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-05-27.
    37. ^ "Capybara, Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris". San Diego Zoo. October 2008. Retrieved 22 June 2011.
    38. ^ Ellsworth, Brian (March 24, 2005). "In Days Before Easter, Venezuelans Tuck Into Rodent-Related Delicacy". New York Sun.
    39. ^ "Capybaras as Pets". capybarafacts.com. Retrieved 2014-10-23.
    40. ^ Perez, Larry (2012). Snake in the Grass: an Everglades Invasion (1st ed.). Sarasota, Fla.: Pineapple Press. p. 89. ISBN 9781561645138.
    41. ^ "2 Pesos Uruguayos de 2014" (in Spanish). Monedas Uruguay. Retrieved 8 June 2016.
    42. ^ "Izu Shaboten Animal Park (Ito) – 2018 All You Need to Know Before You Go (with Photos) – TripAdvisor". www.tripadvisor.com.

Distribution

    Distribution
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris is a strictly South American rodent species. Its range extends throughout most of Brazil, Uruguay, Venezuela, and Columbia, south into the Argentinian pampas, and west to the Andes.

    Biogeographic Regions: neotropical (Native )

Morphology

    Morphology
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    Capybaras are the largest of rodents, weighing from 35 to 66 kg and standing up to 0.6 meters at the shoulder, with a length of about 1.2 meters. Females of this species are slightly larger than males. Their fur is coarse and thin, and is reddish brown over most of the body, turning yellowish brown on the belly and sometimes black on the face. The body is barrel-shaped, sturdy, and tailless. The front legs are slightly shorter than the hind legs, and the feet are partially webbed. This, in addition to the location of the eyes, ears, and nostrils on top of the head, make capybaras well-suited to semi-aquatic life.

    Range mass: 35 to 66 kg.

    Range length: 106 to 134 cm.

    Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry

    Sexual Dimorphism: female larger

Habitat

    Habitat
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    Capybaras are found only in areas where water is easily accessible: flooded grasslands are a favored habitat, as are marsh edges and lowland forests where grazing is good and there is water year-round. However, they occupy a range of habitats, including dry forest, scrub, and grasslands throughout South America.

    Habitat Regions: temperate ; tropical ; terrestrial

    Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland ; forest ; rainforest ; scrub forest

    Wetlands: marsh ; swamp

    Other Habitat Features: riparian

Trophic Strategy

    Trophic Strategy
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    Capybaras are grazers, feeding mainly on grasses and aquatic plants. Bark and fruit are consumed occasionally. They are also cophrophagous and spend part of each morning re-ingesting the previous day’s food.

    Plant Foods: leaves; wood, bark, or stems; seeds, grains, and nuts; fruit

    Other Foods: dung

    Primary Diet: herbivore (Folivore , Lignivore); coprophage

Associations

    Associations
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    In many parts of South America capybaras are the only large grazing species and can have a dramatic effect on the vegetation in an area. They are also mutualists or commensals with several types of birds which pick parasitic insects out of capybara fur or follow grazing capybaras and eat the insects they stir up from the grass. In addition, they are an important prey species for many different animals, as mentioned above.

    Ecosystem Impact: creates habitat

    Mutualist Species:

    • southern caracaras (Caracara plancus)
    • rufous horneros (Furnarius rufus)
    • yellow-headed caracaras (Milvago chimachima)

    Commensal/Parasitic Species:

    • cattle tyrants (Machetornis rixosa)
    • shiny cowbirds (Molothrus bonariensis)
    Associations
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    Especially while young, capybaras are an important food source for many large predators, including anacondas, caimans, jaguars, and humans. While grazing, they are constantly on the lookout for predators and give an alarm bark when one is spotted. They often hide in the water, with just their nostrils and eyes exposed, and can stay completely submerged for up to five minutes.

    Known Predators:

    • jaguars (Panthera onca)
    • green anacondas (Eunectes murinus)
    • spectacled caimans (Caiman crocodilus)
    • humans (Homo sapiens)

Behavior

    Behavior
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    Vocalization appears to be very important in capybara groups, but the purpose of many of the sounds made is unknown. However, young vocalize almost constantly and vocal communication among adults is also common. Individuals bark to warn the group of danger, this often results in the whole group rushing into the relative safety of the water. Scent is also important, especially in mating and establishing dominance. Male capybaras have a bare lump on the top of the snout, known as the morillo gland, which secretes a white liquid. The scent of this liquid acts as an olfactory “fingerprint”, signaling the status of the individual. It is rubbed on trees or shrubs to mark territory, or smeared on the male’s body to advertise his status and willingness to mate. Both males and females have two glands on either side of the anus. The combination of chemicals in the liquid they secrete is also highly individualized and seems to be used to recognize group members and mark territory.

    Communication Channels: acoustic ; chemical

    Other Communication Modes: pheromones ; scent marks

    Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

Life Expectancy

    Life Expectancy
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    Capybaras live about 6 years on average (and as many as 10 years) in the wild and up to 12 years in captivity.

    Range lifespan
    Status: wild:
    10 (high) years.

    Average lifespan
    Status: wild:
    6 years.

    Range lifespan
    Status: captivity:
    12 (high) years.

Reproduction

    Reproduction
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    Capybaras are polygynous to promiscuous. Dominant males in social groups try to monopolize mating activity, but this can be nearly impossible, especially in larger groups. Little research has been done on female mate choice in capybaras, but females have been observed mating with both dominant and subordinate males.

    Mating System: polygynous ; polygynandrous (promiscuous) ; cooperative breeder

    Capybaras breed throughout the year, with a peak in breeding activity at the beginning of the rainy season. When a female comes into estrus, a male will begin to follow her closely, sometimes for long periods of time, before mating occurs. During this time, the male is often driven off by a more dominant male, who then takes his place. Copulation occurs in the water and typically lasts only a few seconds, but a female usually copulates several times per estrus period. Young are born after 150 days, in litters ranging in size from 2 to 8.The young are precocial, beginning to stand and walk shortly after birth, and can graze within a week of being born. They are weaned at about 3 months old, during which time they suckle both from their own mother and the other females in the group, who are usually closely related.

    Breeding interval: Capybaras produce one litter of young per year.

    Breeding season: Breeding occurs year-round with a peak in May and June, the beginning of the rainy season.

    Range number of offspring: 2 to 8.

    Average number of offspring: 4.

    Average gestation period: 150 days.

    Average weaning age: 3 months.

    Average time to independence: 1 years.

    Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 18 months.

    Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 18 months.

    Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; year-round breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; viviparous

    Young capybaras stay with their parents' group until they are about a year old. They nurse for the first three months of this time. Both before and after weaning, the young move around together in a creche, and some of the work of parenting (such as suckling and watching for danger) is shared among all adults in the group. During much of their first year of life, the young are small, slow, and easily tired, making them especially vulnerable to predators. The protection of their natal group is essential to staying alive. Little is known about individual parental care in capybaras, but it seems that, because of the precocial state of the young and the system of cooperative parenting, the time and resources spent by each parent after birth are minimal.

    Parental Investment: precocial ; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Male, Female); pre-independence (Protecting: Male, Female)

Conservation Status

    Conservation Status
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    The IUCN lists capybaras as a species of least concern, citing its large population, large distribution, and frequent occurrence within protected areas. However, some local populations are in decline due to over-hunting.

    US Federal List: no special status

    CITES: no special status

    IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

Benefits

    Benefits
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    Capybaras sometimes raid gardens or farms in search of food, such as melons, squashes, or grains. It has also been hypothesized that they are carriers of certain livestock diseases.

    Negative Impacts: crop pest; causes or carries domestic animal disease

    Benefits
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    Capybaras are hunted for their meat and leather, both of which are said to be very high-quality. Capybara meat is especially popular during Lent, the 40-day period prior to Easter, because it is approved by the Catholic church as an alternative to beef or pork. (Presumably, the semiaquatic habit of the capybara convinced early priests that it was similar to fish.) Large-scale ranching of capybaras has been proposed to curtail illegal hunting and the animals have proved easy to domesticate, at least in small numbers. In fact, capybaras are more efficient grazers than cattle or other introduced livestock and are already an important source of food for many local people.

    Positive Impacts: food ; body parts are source of valuable material