he capybara (Hydrochaeris hydrochaeri), or by it’s local name the ronsoco, is my favorite South American animal. They live in large groups with each group having one dominant male. Reaching a length of three and a half feet and a weight of more than 110 pounds this makes the capybara the largest rodent in the world. They resemble giant guinea pigs but do not have a tail. The hair of the capybara grows up to 3 inches long and is very course.
Capybaras are semi-aquatic; they have webbed feet with four toes on the front and three toes on the hind feet (see Carpybara picture above). These giant rodents live in open areas near water such as marshes and lakes and subsequently they spend much of their time in the water.
Their diet is similar to that of rabbits but normally they do not drink water which they extract from their food. They like grass, cucumbers, corn, yucca, watermelon and apples. Some common garden plants like tomatoes and cilantro are poisonous to capybaras.
As pets they are fantastic, the females more so than the males. The males by nature are somewhat anti-social. They prefer to be alone and can be a little “snippy.” I have heard reports that males try to bite but I think this is more of a scare tactic than a real attempt to do harm.
The females on the other hand make wonderful pets, they love to be with humans all of the time, and are never bad with people. They are playful and if you scratch their back or rub their stomach, you will have a friend for life. When young the females may have as few as two babies but when older they normally have up to six. Pregnancies last for six months, rather long for a rodent.
Animals of the Amazon, The
Capybara By Keith Allen