Wendy has taught high school Biology and has a master's degree in education.
Capybara Facts: Lesson for Kids
What Is a Capybara?
You may be familiar with a small, fluffy pet called a guinea pig. You may have even held this cuddly creature. What if someone told you that the guinea pig has a close relative that is the size of a big dog? It's true! And this animal is called a capybara.
Capybaras are the largest rodents in the world. A rodent is a mammal known for its large front teeth that never stop growing (which means they must chew and gnaw constantly to keep their teeth at a reasonable length). Examples of other rodents include rats, mice and squirrels.
Join us to learn more as we explore the world of capybaras.
Features of the Capybara
A capybara looks somewhat like a hairy pig. It is covered in sparse, brownish hair and has no tail. An adult capybara is about 2 feet tall and weighs around 100 pounds. That's about the size of a labrador retriever! The feet of the capybara are slightly webbed, and this comes in handy because it is semi-aquatic, which means it spends a lot of time in water.
Where Are Capybaras Found?
Capybaras live in Central and South America, and they can also be found in many zoos around the world. Since they're semi-aquatic, they love to hang out in water and are great swimmers. Capybaras especially like marshy ponds and swamps.
Since the hair covering a capybara is sparse, its skin can become easily sunburned when exposed. But the capybara knows what to do. It heads to the muddy bank and rolls around! The mud protects its skin. This is the capybara's way of putting on sunscreen.
Capybaras stick around water for other reasons, as well--a capybara can hide underwater from predators. The jaguar is the main natural predator of this animal. If a jaguar comes near, the capybara heads underwater, where it can hold its breath for up to 5 minutes! The capybara's eyes and nostrils are near the top of its head, so that it can come up for a peek and breath without being easily noticed.
Food and Family Life
Capybaras love to eat water plants and grasses. Once the sun starts to go down, capybaras head out of the water and into the grassy fields to graze. Their large front teeth come in handy, acting like sharp blades to cut through the thick grass.
These rodents usually live in groups of 10 to 30. Within this family, there are a few males, several females and some young ones. When a new baby is born, all of the females in the group help take care of it.
Capybaras are also known for being very chatty. But it's not the kind of talking that humans can understand! Speaking capybara means using barks, yelps, whistles and grunts to tell each other what is going on.
Capybaras are the largest rodents in the world, and they're found in Central and South America. They are semi-aquatic, spending a lot of time in water. Capybaras eat water plants and grasses, and they live in families of 10-30, making many different noises to communicate.
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