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Animal World: Our Co-inhabitants

Capybaras: The Friendliest Animals on Earth

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Capybara means “grass eater.” Capybaras inhabit swampy and grassy semi-aquatic environments, like flooded savannas, and densely forested areas near rivers, lakes, ponds, marshes, and streams. These places are perfect for them since they often go in and out of the water. The lifespan of a wild capybara is 8 to 10 years. Characterized by blunt snouts, small ears, squat legs and regressed tails, their bodies are covered with short brownish fur. Their body length is up to 130 centimeters and they are about 60 centimeters tall at the withers.

Adults weigh 35-66 kilograms. Capybaras are a lot larger than their relatives, including rock cavies, guinea pigs, nutrias, and chinchillas. Just like rabbits and rats, their big teeth continue to grow throughout their lives. That is why capybaras must file them down by constant grazing. Don’t fear their sharp teeth! Capybaras are one of the most friendly and gregarious animals in the world.

Regarding their diet, they are strict vegans, eating only plants. They primarily feed on grasses, fruit, tree bark, and aquatic plants, as much as 3 kilograms a day. The majority of a capybara’s staple diet consists only of three to six kinds of wild plants. When food is not available during the dry season, they eat reeds and grains instead.

They communicate with each other via vocal and non-vocal sounds. The capybara call repertoire consists of 7 types of sounds, including the whistle, cry, whine, squeal, bark, click and teeth‐chattering. These rodents are very talkative animals. Capybaras keep producing a sound when they are together to maintain contact with their colleagues and offspring. When you hear a herd singing in unison, you will be fascinated!

Most of all, people are amazed by their gregariousness. Extremely social by nature, they get along well with other animals, including birds, cats, ducks, monkeys, rabbits, and even crocodiles. You may wonder how, but I think capybaras can make friends with any living being on Earth!

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