Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris

Scientific Name

Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris

Distribution and Habitat

Geographic Range

The capybara is found in Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, the Guyanas, Peru and south through Brazil, Paraguay, northeast Argentina, & Uruguay.

Natural Habitat

Because this rodent is semi-aquatic, it can be found in dense vegetation surrounding lakes, rivers, swamps, marshes and ponds. They are normally crepuscular meaning they are active at twilight: early in the morning and at sunset.

Physical Characteristics

  • Capybaras are the largest rodents in the world.  They have heavy, barrel-shaped bodies with short heads.  They resemble guinea pigs.  Their fur is reddish brown on their upper parts and yellowish brown underneath. They average around 100 pounds and may grow large as two feet tall and four feet long.

Quick Facts

  1. Capybaras are excellent swimmers, hence their nickname, water pig. They have partially webbed feet, their front legs have four toes and their hind legs have three. They may remain underwater for as long as five minutes.


  2. They are a highly social animal and live in groups controlled by a dominant male.


  3. In the language of the Guarani Indians, capybara means “master of the grasses”.


M&T Bank Rainforest Falls

Conservation Status

Least Concern: The Capybara is common or abundant and is likely to survive in the wild.

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This herbivore eats mainly grasses and aquatic plants. Their consumption may reach as much as six to eight pounds per day!