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Fact File

Class: Mammal
Order: Rodent
Family: Caviidae (Cavies)
Found:  South America
Size:   100 – 130 cm
Weight:  50 kg


Diet:  Herbivore (Plant Eater)
Gestation: 150 days


Conservation Status: LC


Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris

Habitats: The Capybara inhabits densely vegetated areas around ponds, lakes, rivers, streams, marshes and swamps. It does not use a den but shelters in thickets. If disturbed or threatened it enters the water, where it swims and dives with ease.   The capybara is most common on the grasslands of the Llanos in Venezuela and Colombia, and the Pantanal of Brazil giving it its common name, which translates as “master of the grasses”.

Threats: The capybara is extensively hunted for its meat and hide, as well as for a grease from its thick, fatty skin (which is used in the pharmaceutical trade); Sometimes killed by farmers as a pest, either because it attacks crops, or because it is mistakenly viewed as a competitor with livestock.  The conversion of forest to grassland and regimes of cattle ranches (such as predator control, provision of water, and burning), may be helping to create more suitable capybara habitat. However, some local capybara populations have decreased or even disappeared where hunting pressure is intense, such as near human settlement and along rivers the main travel routes of hunters.

Social Behaviour: It is commonly found in groups of 20 animals

Food: The diet consists mainly of grasses; it also eats aquatic plants, grains and melons

 Information: There is usually one litter per year around 150 days gestation, the average litter size is 5 young. The young are able to follow their mother and eat grass shortly after birth. They live around 10 years.

Range: The single genus and species occurs in Central and South America, from Panama, including Colombia, Uruguay and north eastern Argentina.

How we are Protecting Wild Animals
Throughout most of tropical America large macaws have suffered major population declines as a result of habitat loss and poaching for the pet trade.

The Tambopata Macaw Project is a long term research project, which studies the behaviour, ecology and diet of wild parrots and macaws. The research includes monitoring of home range and habitat use, using GPS surveillance technology, and the study of breeding behaviour through the use of specially designed bird nest boxes with the inclusion of remote cameras.

The project also works to protect the forest – in particular the bird’s nesting and feeding sites. This is largely done by promoting ecotourism in the area – this boosts funds and awareness for the local wildlife as well as providing higher security from illegal logging and poaching.

The information our scientists have uncovered so far has been invaluable to the care and protection of these threatened species, both in this area and across the globe.

Safari Zoo Animals Protected by This Project

Other Wild Animals Protected by This Project