Rodents are exciting species. They have unique physical features, funny movements, and fascinating behavior overall. There are about 200 species and 30 families of rodents. If you think the beaver has an unusual size, we have got news for you: the capybara is twice as big! In fact, it’s the biggest in the family.
Scientifically referred to as Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris, capybaras can live up to 7 years, attaining a height of up to 2 feet at shoulders. Adults weigh between 77 to 145 pounds and are naturally herbivores. We analyze the unique yet fascinating capybara behavior below.
Capybara Social Behavior
It’s not unusual to find a group of more than 20 adult capybaras together. The rodents are very social as members of the same family and to others. They have no problem showing affection to humans and other animals.
To protect their social structure, a dominant male capybara (usually the biggest) leads the pack. Second in command is the alpha female (also the biggest). The rodents do all they can to protect their family and home.
Even though these species are wild, they can smoothly learn and show affection to humans. However, you might think forming bonds with people is easy since we are superior. To further highlight their highly social behavior, capybaras have been known to form friendships with other animals, such as dogs and cats.
Capybara Communication Behavior
Capybaras are noticeably very vocal. Depending on the message they want to pass, the animals will chirp, whistle, purr, huff, or even bark. However, when relating to other species, say humans, they are always open to new methods of communication.
For instance, people who keep capybaras as pets claim that the animals can express emotions such as happiness. They run around, jump, and play games with humans. Another notable happy trait is standing on their hind legs and swinging their bodies as if to dance.
On the other hand, a capybara that lies flat on the ground might be in distress, probably upset about something.
The Feeding Behavior and Preferences of Capybara
All capybara species feed on grass, melons, grains, reeds, and plant parts; they are herbivores. They have long, constantly growing, sharp teeth that help them feed effortlessly.
Interestingly, capybaras are famous for eating their poo in the morning. Scientists say their feces contain high microbe levels, which is necessary for the species’ survival. Additionally, these rodents do not have a sophisticated digestive system, so most of the food consumed is likely to be passed out undigested.
In that case, eating their waste allows the capybaras to re-digest and maximize their feeding escapades. There is limited information on whether the animals know about the nutritional value of their poo or if they do it for other reasons.
Capybara Mating Rituals and Behavior
Even though capybaras prefer mating during the wet seasons, they do not have a hard deadline– most species breed all year round. All the male capybaras have to do is constantly look for signs that a female is in estrus. To do this, the alphas sniff the females for a specific scent.
Whistling is another sign that a female is ready to mate. Once they find a mate, the females swim back and forth, indicating they are prepared for copulation. Capybaras prefer mating in water, and the copulation process is usually short. This is probably to avoid interruption from other males, which is often the case.
On the other hand, if a female capybara is not interested in a particular male, or mating in general, she will dive deep into the water and away.
Capybara Behavioral Adaptations
Capybaras are semi-aquatic rodents mainly found in northern and central South America. These species are excellent swimmers thanks to their pig-shaped bodies and partially webbed feet. They are almost better than beavers on that front.
Snakes like the boa constrictor, pumas, and jaguars are the most common capybara predators. Depending on their location, birds such as black vultures and caracara can also threaten the rodents’ existence. Naturally, capybaras have behavioral adaptations to help them survive.
They include the following:
- A herd member that spots a predator makes barking noises to alert the rest of the group
- When on land, running away is their best option
- Capybaras can swim quickly or hide in vegetation found in the water body.
The Key Takeaway
Social. Loveable. Smooth. You can describe capybara behavior with all these terms, and nobody will dispute. Found in most parts of Northern and Central South America, these rodents are the largest of their species, with a lifespan of up to 7 years.
From how they mate to their feeding patterns and behavioral adaptations, there is so little to dislike about capybaras. Whistling, barking, and dancing are the main methods of communication for these vastly social creatures.