- Every Tuesday, Mongabay brings you a new episode of Candid Animal Cam, our show featuring animals caught on camera traps around the world and hosted by Romi Castagnino, our writer and conservation scientist.
Camera traps bring you closer to the secretive natural world and are an important conservation tool to study wildlife. This week we’re meeting the largest rodent in the world: the capybara.
Capybaras are part of the Caviidae family, so they are closely related to guinea pigs. Its scientific name comes from the Greek hydor which means “water” and choiros which means “pig” and this refers to their semiaquatic lifestyle. These rodents are native to all South American countries except Chile and are found in savannas and dense forests, always near water. Capybaras are highly social animals and can form groups as large as 100 individuals. But usually, they live in groups of about 10 to 20 individuals. Capybaras are autocoprophagous, this means they eat their own poop. Just like rabbits, they eat their own feces to get bacteria that will help their stomach break down fiber from grasses in their meals. Watch the video to learn more about them!
Special thanks to the San Miguelito Jaguar Conservation Ranch for sharing this footage with us.
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Banner image: Rhett Butler
Review questions for educators
These questions can help provide a framework for exploring topics presented in this story.
- What kinds of animals are capybaras related to?
- What advantage do capybaras have with their eyes, ears and nose on the top of their head?
- Why do capybaras eat their poop?