AskDefine | Define capybara

Dictionary Definition

capybara n : pig-sized tailless South American amphibious rodent with partly webbed feet; largest living rodent [syn: capibara, Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris]

User Contributed Dictionary

see Capybara



  1. The largest living rodent (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris), native to South America, living partly on land and partly in water.


Extensive Definition

Capybara (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris, also known as capibara, chigüiro and carpincho in Spanish, and capivara in Portuguese It is related to agouti, chinchillas, coyphillas, and guinea pigs. Its common name, derived from Kapiÿva in the Guarani language, while its scientific name, hydrochaeris, is Greek for "water hog". Capybaras have slightly webbed feet, no tail, and 20 teeth. Their back legs are slightly longer than their front legs and their muzzles are blunt with eyes, nostrils, and ears on top of their head. There is also a "lesser capybara", Hydrochoerus isthmius. and breed when conditions are perfect, which can be once per year (such as in Brazil) or throughout the year (such as in Venezuela and Colombia). The male pursues a female and mounts when the female stops in water. Capybara gestation is 130–150 days and usually produces a litter of four capybara babies, but may produce between two and eight in a single litter. Birth is on land and the female will rejoin the group within a few hours of delivering the newborn capybaras, who will join the group as soon as they are mobile. Within a week the young can eat grass, but will continue to suckle - from any female in the group - until weaned at about 16 weeks. Youngsters will form a group within the main group.


Capybara are semi-aquatic mammals sometimes allowed to roam freely and may live for 12 years in captivity.

Human interaction

thumb|right|A group of capybaras at [[Hato La Fe in the Los Llanos region of Venezuela]] Capybaras are gentle and will usually allow humans to pet and hand-feed them. Capybara skin is tough, and thus in some areas where capybaras are wild, they are hunted for meat and their skin, which is turned into a high-quality leather, Considered a delicacy, it is often served with rice and plantains.
During the Christian celebration of Lent, capybara meat is especially popular as the Catholic church, in a special dispensation, classified the animal as a fish in the 16th century.

See also

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capybara in Afrikaans: Kapibara
capybara in Guarani: Kapi'yva
capybara in Catalan: Capibara
capybara in Czech: Kapybara
capybara in Danish: Kapivar
capybara in German: Capybara
capybara in Spanish: Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris
capybara in Esperanto: Kapibaro
capybara in French: Capybara
capybara in Indonesian: Kapibara
capybara in Italian: Hydrochoeris hydrochaeris
capybara in Hebrew: קפיברה
capybara in Lithuanian: Kapibara
capybara in Hungarian: Vízidisznó
capybara in Dutch: Capibara
capybara in Japanese: カピバラ
capybara in Norwegian: Flodsvin
capybara in Polish: Kapibara
capybara in Portuguese: Capivara
capybara in Russian: Капибара
capybara in Simple English: Capybara
capybara in Slovak: Kapybara močiarna
capybara in Finnish: Vesisika
capybara in Swedish: Kapybara
capybara in Turkish: Kapibara
capybara in Chinese: 水豚
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