Habitat & Range
Native to South America, capybaras inhabit savannas and dense forest areas near bodies of water. With the exception of Chile, they can be found in every South American country along rivers, lakes, swamps and marshes. They have also flourished in cattle ranches.
With a barrel-shaped body and a short head, the capybara is covered in red-brown fur on its back that changes to yellow-brown underneath. An average adult stands 2 feet tall, 4 feet long and weighs 77 to 150 pounds. Their back legs are slightly longer than their front legs and their feet are webbed for swimming.
Capybaras are herbivores that graze on aquatic plants, grasses, fruits and tree bark.
Reproduction & Lifespan
A female will alert males when she is in estrus by whistling through her nose. Capybaras only mate in the water. If a female does not want to mate with the male pursuing her, she will submerge herself in the water. Gestation is 130 to 150 days and produces an average of four babies.
They have a lifespan of 8 to 10 years in the wild, but on average live less than 4 years.
Fantastic Fact Successful Survival
Despite their agility on land, capybaras are highly functional in the water. They are able to remain submerged for up to 5 minutes at a time and, if necessary, can sleep in the water, keeping only their nose above the surface. Their versatility is a key component in evading predators.
Copyright 2014 Elmwood Park Zoo
1661 Harding Blvd
Norristown, PA 19401
Main Number: 800.652.4143
Fax Number: 610.292.0332