Magical Facts About the Life of the Capybara

What’s not to love about the capybara? The overgrown guinea pig may be the largest rodent in the world, but you should give more than a rat's a** about it. Cute capybaras and their super chill demeanor litter countless Pinterest boards, showing off their swimming skills for the world to fawn over. However, the capybara's cuteness is but only one reason why you should care about the water hog. Spread across the continent of South America, capybaras form large communities and socialize freely with other animals. As animal parents, they help teach their young how to swim, and the whole group acts as their protectors. And when it comes to mating, let's just say the capybara isn't shy about its sexuality.

The following facts about capybaras might just change your opinion of this incredible creature. If you ever wondered what lies underneath the furry exterior of the cutest exotic animal on the Internet - yeah, suck it, baby bats - these amazing capybara facts will point you toward the answer.

Photo: Charles J Sharp / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 4.0

  • Baby Capybaras Can't Swim

    Baby Capybaras Can't Swim
    Photo: Paul Williams / flickr / CC-BY-NC 2.0

    Though the majority of their lives will ultimately be spent in the water, newborn capybaras are not very good swimmers. As a result, they spend their first several months living near the water, hidden by large brush.

    The entire capybara group works to nurse the young and protect them from harm. Baby capybaras nurse on every female in the community, and beta males work to stay vigilant to protect the group from harm.

  • Capybaras Get To The Size Of A Small St. Bernard

    Capybaras Get To The Size Of A Small St. Bernard
    Photo: marcmo / flickr / CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

    Unlike most members of the rodent family, capybaras’ heads are flat and square-shaped. The females tend to be a little larger than the males, but in general they reach approximately the same physical size.

    Capybaras can reach about four feet long and about 20 inches tall. Within that relatively small frame, capybaras pack a lot of density, weighing up to 175 pounds.

  • Capybaras Are Most Commonly Active At Dawn And Dusk

    Capybaras Are Most Commonly Active At Dawn And Dusk
    Photo: alumroot / flickr / CC-BY-NC 2.0

    When comfortable in their environment, capybaras act as crepuscular animals. This means they’re most often active at dawn and dusk, sleeping through the heat of the day and hiding out at night.

    Should they feel as though a threat is present, capybaras can also convert to completely nocturnal behavior in which they eat and socialize entirely at night.

  • Capybara Can Stay Submerged Underwater For Up To Five Minutes

    Capybara Can Stay Submerged Underwater For Up To Five Minutes
    Video: YouTube

    After living among marshes and swamps, Capybaras have evolved to thrive in aquatic environments. Their skin needs to be kept constantly moist and their daily diet consists primarily of aquatic plants.

    Also known as water hogs, wild capybaras sleep along river banks and streams. They’re often found in dense vegetation, a preference that keeps them cool and hides them from predators.

  • Capybara Are Designed To Thrive In The Water

    Capybara Are Designed To Thrive In The Water
    Photo: The Brit_2 / flickr / CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

    The capybara may not seem like the most agile animal on the planet, but in the water they possess a striking mobility. Their webbed feet make it possible for them to walk through the mud and swim through rivers and streams with ease.

    Furthermore, their facial features are designed to cope with the water. Their eyes and nostrils are located at the top of their heads which allows them to breathe and stay submerged simultaneously, much like crocodiles. When submerged, their ears also close to keep the water out.

  • Unlike A Lot Of Animals, Capybaras Can Get Sunburns

    Unlike A Lot Of Animals, Capybaras Can Get Sunburns
    Photo: Stephen Horvath / flickr / CC-BY-ND 2.0

    Typically appearing as reddish brown to gray, the capybara’s muted colors are one of their natural evolutionary developments. Another development, their thin, wiry coat, is designed to dry quickly when they exit the water.

    Thus, sunburns become a possibility due to the capybara's thin coat. They counter this possibility by caking their skin in mud, another reason they’re known as water hogs. The capybara’s unique pelt also makes them a valuable hunting commodity, even in modern times.