Capybara Facts and Information. Everything You Wanted To Know About Capybaras カピバラの事実と情報. カピバラについて知りたいすべてのもの. 水豚事實和信息。 你想知道的關於水豚的一切

I am afraid I have had to remove the photos as some nasty person has been removing the watermark from my photos and uploading them to the internet. It is illegal to remove the watermark.

Capybara Facts and Information (Hydrochoerus Hydrochaeris).

The capybara has attracted the attention of explorers and writers to South America from the 16th century onward. They were struck by both its size and its gregariousness and relative tameness. The capybara is the last survivor of a long line of gigantic grass eating rodents that evolved in South America over millions of years. The salient feature of capybara behaviour is undoubtedly their gregariousness.   It is the world’s largest rodent.

Scientific name: Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris.

NWN Aoba 18 Sep 2015 126

In the past capybaras were also known as Water Pig.

The name, capybara, originates from a word in the language of the indigenous Tupi people (ka’pii which means grass + gwara which means eater). The language of the Tupi was the most widely spoken language in South America in the 16th century and means grass eater although the translation “Master of the Grasses” is more poetic and reflects their diet and to some extent their habitat. There are many, many different names for the capybara in South America, the most common of these include: carpincho, capivara, chiguire, ronsoco.

There are 2 species of capybara:    The less common species is the Lesser Capybara (Hydrochoerus Isthmius) found in eastern Panama, northwestern Colombia and western Venezuela. This is a scientifically distinct species with anatomical differences, a smaller size and genetic differences. The species is fairly common in Panama but increasingly rare in Venezuela. It is threatened by subsistence hunting, the destruction of forested areas and the drainage of swamps. The Lesser Capybara breeds year round, with an average litter size of 3.5 pups. Individuals may be diurnal or nocturnal and solitary or social depending on season, habitat and hunting pressure.

Geographical Location:   Capybaras, Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris, are found in Central and South America from Panama to Northern Argentina primarily east of the Andes. They inhabit several types of wetland including gallery forest along rivers, mangroves and marshes. Capybaras reach their highest densities in the seasonally flooded savannas of the Llanos of Venezuela and Colombia, and the Pantanal of the Mato Grosso and on Marajo island in Brazil. They are always found in close proximity to water. The highest altitude at which capybaras are found is 4, 500 feet (1500 m). The only South American country with no capybaras is Chile.

Size and Weight: An adult capybara is large! Adult capybaras weigh on average from 40 to 50 kg in the wild (range 35 – 65 kg). In captivity the average weight is between 50 – 60 kg for a healthy capybara. There is no difference in weight between the sexes, but there are differences in size across the capybaras’ geographical distribution, with capybaras in Venezuela smaller than those of central and south eastern Brazil and Argentina, and those found in north-eastern Brazil being smaller still. In length they average about 4 feet (1.2 m) and are up to 2 feet tall (.60 m).

Physical Description:   Capybaras’ skin is thick and sparsely covered with coarse, oily water-resistant fur, varying in colour: red, grey, brown and straw coloured. Some black hairs can be found on the face, rump and limbs.

NWN 40% crop Syrup Q best sparse hair 28 Dec 2016 070

Capybaras have very coarse, sparse hair which dries very quickly

Capybaras have a vestigial tail but this is not visible from a distance. The front legs are shorter than the hind legs. The feet are partially webbed with four toes on the front feet and three toes on the hind feet. The head is large with the nostrils, eyes and ears (which are small and sparsely covered with short hairs, with a mobile fold that closes the ear canal when they submerge) located on the top of their head, so they can hear, smell and see while remaining almost completely submerged, an adaptation to their semi aquatic lifestyle which allows them to keep a lookout for any dangers while remaining almost invisible.  You can see this in the video below:

Semi aquatic lifestyle: Access to water is essential for capybaras. Capybaras’ territory always includes water which is used both as a refuge from predators and to control body temperature. They often seek refuge in water to escape predators (except the Cayman, which will rarely attack a capybara on land, but will often attack a capybara in water).  A Jaguar has to be within 3 feet of a capybara to have a chance of a successful attack.

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Capybara front paw with 4 toes. Hind paws have 3 toes. This is a photo of the underside of a Capybara’s front foot. Capybaras have partially webbed feet. They have 4 toes on each front foot and 3 toes on each hind foot

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What Is Cecotrophy? Why Capybaras Eat Their Cecotropes.

Capybaras Eat Their Cecotropes to Increase the Amount of Protein and Other Nutrients They Get from Their Low Nutrient Diet.  Capybaras do not eat their faeces or their poo! They eat their cecotropes.

NWN Io eating his cecotropes 2012

5 month old Io, Donguri’s little son, eating his cecotropes

The capybara diet is highly fibrous and nutritionally low in value. Cecotrophy allows the capybara to digest more nutrients from an otherwise low nutrient diet and maximise the absorption of protein. The ‘cecotrophy’ excreta is different in composition to the usual oval shaped faeces, and contains up to 37% more protein and 30% less fibrous material, depending on the diet. Cecotrophy in capybaras varies in frequency and it can even stop altogether when the capybara’s diet is rich in protein.

Cecotrophy is most frequent when the nutritional quality of the diet is low. In wild populations there is a higher occurrence of cecotrophy during the dry season when food is scarce and lacking nutrients. Capybaras, with their highly efficient mastication and long retention time of undigested compounds in the cecum, can efficiently digest fibrous feedstuffs. (In rabbits large particles are barely fermented and the effect of cecotrophy on fibre digestibility is low.)

It was very interesting watching Ayu. She spent a little while (5 or more minutes) eating her cecotropes. She then moved away. About 40 or so minutes later she came over to me and sat just out of reach. About 15 minutes after this she spent a similar amount of time eating her cecotropes for a second time. Then she settled down again. About 15 minutes later she passed wind, and had one last brief ‘mouthful’. This was about midday.

The average retention time of roughage in the digestive tract of capybaras is 12 (+/- 1.9) hours.

The process by which cecotropes are produced is called “hindgut fermentation”. Food passes through the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, where nutrients are initially absorbed ineffectively, and then into the colon. Through reverse peristalsis, the food is forced back into the cecum where it is broken down into simple sugars (i.e. monosaccharides) by bacterial fermentation. The cecotrope then passes through the colon, the anus, and is eliminated by the animal and then reingested. The process occurs 4 to 8 hours after eating. This type of reingestion to obtain more nutrients is similar to the chewing of cud in cattle.

NWN Syrup Cecotropes SnapShot(0)

Capybaras most often practice cecotrophy in the early morning hours when protein content is highest.

In their natural habitat, 70% of the capybaras diet consists of grasses, including aquatic grasses and sedges. Capybaras spend 31% of the day grazing during the wet season, and 42% of the day grazing during the dry season as there is less food and it is less nutritious.

The Capybara Scandal

I am trying to stop capybaras becoming the next “must have” exotic pet craze, and suffering the same fate as potbellied pigs, when they become large and difficult to handle.

I was talking to a lady who runs an Animal Refuge in Indiana who already has 2 capybaras who she rescued. She said there was a growing number of people buying female capybaras in order to mate them, and make money out of selling their babies. She expects to have many more capybaras who need to be rescued, because there are now so many breeders, and so many people who want a cute pet capybara.

When capybaras are portrayed as “cute” (dressed in clothes, hats and sunglasses) you create a market for pet capybaras among people who are not really interested in capybaras, but just love their cuteness. These people have no understanding of a capybara’s needs, and no desire to spend time doing the necessary research.

Capybaras are happiest as part of a herd in their natural habitat. These capybaras are in the Llanos of Colombia

People need to know that pet capybaras are sometimes aggressive. As they grow older and bigger, capybaras become very powerful. They have very sharp teeth (the Amerindians, in South America, use capybara teeth as weapons, attached to poles). Not many people want a pet who can cause painful, even serious, injuries.

Please see my blog: A Pet Capybara: Should I Have One?    https://capybaraworld.wordpress.com/2013/02/20/a-pet-capybara-should-i-have-one/

The leading breeder of capybaras stopped selling capybaras to the public as pets, about 8 years ago, because so many pet capybaras suffered, often dying prematurely or ending up in animal refuges.

This is the perfect enclosure for a capybara: lots of grass and a large pond. Photo by Martin MurmelTier Hees

Many pet capybaras die prematurely due to tooth problems, inappropriate diet and stress.

A friend, who runs an animal refuge, reminded me of the craze for potbellied pigs, not so long ago. When these potbellied pigs grew larger, many were abandoned and ended up in refuges. The same is beginning to happen with capybaras.

Capybaras are very sensitive emotionally; they are intelligent, sentient beings who can think and feel.

If you look in Ran’s eyes you can see how frightened he is

I was heartbroken to learn that during the extreme cold spell in February 2021, many pet capybaras suffered frostbite. This indicates that most people who get pet capybaras should not. This has happened before. Over the years I have been horrified to hear of capybaras suffering frostbite in North America. If I had capybaras living outside in extreme weather conditions, I would usher them into my house, and if necessary cover them with blankets. No capybara should suffer frostbite.

I find it very depressing that people who say they care about capybaras like to see capybaras dressed in clothes. No one who dresses a capybara in clothes should have one of these remarkable animals.

It seems that most people cannot see life from an animal’s perspective. Like everyone who understands animals, I don’t understand why people like seeing capybaras in dresses. One of the reasons people love capybaras is they are so cute – naked!

People should know that capybaras don’t like wearing clothes. This should not come as a surprise to anyone who understands animals. I have witnessed first-hand how uncomfortable and unhappy capybaras are in clothes. Being made to wear clothes also interferes with the relationship between a pet capybara and their owner. The capybara is confused why someone they love is doing this to them.

I came across a website, by accident, which advertised capybaras for sale. These were capybaras who had outgrown their “baby” cuteness. They varied in age from about nine months to 3 years. The way in which they were described by the people selling them was heartbreaking. One seller described his capybara as “Sold as is, with defects”, as if he was selling a used car. Another advertised his capybara as: “Cannot be handled”; I wondered what had caused this capybara to become so unhappy and aggressive. Another seller described the capybara he was selling as “Suitable for display” as though this sensitive, living being was an inanimate object with no feelings or needs. I was in tears thinking about the unhappy lives humans had created for these loving animals. And I was appalled at the lack of compassion, concern or morality of the people selling these unwanted capybaras.

I was in conversation recently with a man who wanted to keep a capybara as a pet. He was convinced he could give the capybara a better life than the capybara would experience in the wild! Research has shown that wild animals kept as pets suffer much more stress than if they were living in the wild, in their natural habitat.  I was horrified at this man’s lack of understanding and arrogance. He obviously had no understanding whatsoever of animals, and unfortunately was not interested in learning.

Capybaras do not like to wear clothes. Dressing a pet capybara causes stress and interferes with the bond between the capybara and the human, as the capybara cannot understand why the human is doing this to him
Capybaras do not like to wear clothes. Dressing a pet capybara causes stress and interferes with the bond between the capybara and the human, as the capybara cannot understand why the human is doing this to him

It is well known that the market for “cute” animal photos and videos is detrimental to Animal Welfare. In some countries it encourages people to buy wild animals as pets when in fact these wild animals are totally unsuited to becoming pets and usually suffer. It also results in an increasing number of zoos, often very small and cramped, which house cute animals in prisonlike conditions. These animals suffer immense stress in small, unsuitable enclosures, often with concrete floors. In the case of capybaras, who are semi aquatic, their water source is a small plastic tub often barely larger than the capybara himself, when they need a body of water large enough for them to swim and play.

Capybara cafes should be banned. A cafe is a very stressful and unsuitable habitat for a wild animal. Animals in captivity should always be able to express their natural behaviours and have some control over their lives. Capybaras need to have access to grazing and a pond 24/7. Nobody who understands animals would want to see a capybara, or any other wild animal, in a cafe.

We humans cause so much suffering to the animals we call “cute”. Capybaras, and all other species, are so VERY MUCH MORE than cute.

For more on this topic see my blog: “Animal Manifesto, Animals Are Real Not Cute”

https://capybaraworld.wordpress.com/2018/01/01/animal-manifesto-animals-are-real-not-cute/

Anyone who understands animals and cares about capybaras will be very concerned about the welfare of the growing number of capybaras being bought as pets.

There is an increasing number of people breeding capybaras for sale as pets to meet this demand. The result is capybaras suffer, and end up in refuges.

Some of the people who say they love capybaras, understand animals and care about the welfare of capybaras. Other people who say they like capybaras, just like their cuteness and want them as entertainment, but have no understanding of, or interest in, their welfare. Unfortunately, I believe the majority of people who say they like capybaras, are in the latter category. I believe this is partly because most people cannot see life from an animal’s perspective. My mission is to prevent capybaras from suffering by helping people to understand the needs of these remarkable, sentient beings.

A Capybara Tells Her Story. I am Hinase, leader of the herd at Nagasaki Bio Park.

This is a blog I wrote about my life.

Here’s a quote from my blog: ” Don’t ask me about neutering. It is something which should be done to humans!”

A Capybara Tells Her Story. I am Hinase, leader of the herd at Nagasaki Bio Park.

NWN Hinase watches Toku Zabon mate 04 Dec 2016 017

Hinase watches intently as Toku mates with Zabon. As the most senior female capybara in the hierarchy it should have been her in the separate enclosure with Toku

I rule by intimidation! The rest of the herd knows that as I approach they should show respect by sitting up and becoming tense and alert. Much the same as a sergeant major expects the troops to “stand to attention” when he arrives.

Even my best friend, Momiji, knows to do this. I bully her from time to time but she knows my bad moods are short lived. It’s very frustrating living as a captive capybara at the hands of humans, with no access to grass so I am unable to eat whenever I’m hungry. I don’t understand humans at all. Some capybaras seem to understand them but they are usually the capybaras who the rest of the herd don’t like, so they gravitate towards humans.

Momiji has a different approach to humans. She knows we capybaras are superior to humans and she has no respect for humans. She refuses to be controlled by humans and would rather starve than beg for food.

I have very expressive eyes as you can see in this video. I always have a twinkle in my eye when I am about to chase or intimidate a disobedient capybara. I enjoy wielding my power!

The expression in my eyes reflects my amazement and disbelief that any capybara in the herd would risk upsetting me!

You Can Read a Capybara’s Emotions in Their Eyes

One of my jobs as ruler is to ensure that all the other capybaras in the herd know how to behave. Sometimes the youngsters begin to become too aggressive, as happened with Milk and Prune, so I had to teach them how to behave as junior members of the herd!

I completely understand capybaras and how to rule them, if only I had the same understanding and control of humans!

We used to have a male capybara in the herd, who we could breed with. He was always the centre of attention. There was much less aggression in those days because of his presence, since we spent our time trying to attract him rather than fighting amongst ourselves.

This all changed in 2013 with the birth of the males Syu, Choco, Donut and Macaroni. Tragically Syu died and Macaroni moved to another zoo with his mother Ayu.

I wasn’t happy that Choco and Donut remained in the herd. They should have left when they were yearlings, as they are too closely related to our females to be allowed to breed.

Don’t ask me about neutering. It is something which should be done to humans!

Anyway it seems Choco and Donut can’t father babies, which is a relief. But they mate with Maple and Butter which makes me very angry.

Choco is absolutely fearless so I have to bite him to get his respect. Donut is a good boy and becomes suitably nervous as I approach, getting up and moving away.

Actually just in the past 2 years Donut has become stronger and more powerful than me, so I try not to challenge him as he would win. Fortunately he seems to have inherited our grandmother, Donguri’s, wisdom and will often move away from food as I approach, unless he is very hungry.

Momiji’s daughter, Aoba, understands the rules. She wants me to accept her so she nuzzles me under the chin and nibbles my ear which I love. Not many adult capybaras would do this. In return I let her join us in the Onsen. In Donguri’s day, Donguri would let almost all the capybaras into the Onsen and it became very crowded. Momiji and I like to have the Onsen to ourselves so we guard the entrance and sit under the shower, which is the favoured spot.

My nemesis is Butter. She doesn’t understand the rules and even though she knows I hate her, and frequently attack her, she still comes over to try to eat my food, or join us in the mud bath! She shouldn’t be mating with Choco and Donut, a rule which all the other female capybaras understand, except Butter’s mother Maple. Sometimes it’s tiring having to keep chasing her but it’s the only way to teach her.

For some reason some humans seem to like Butter, and to my horror she was chosen to breed in 2020 when it should have been Aoba. Fortunately, Butter did not become pregnant. Probably, “Mother Nature” prevented her from becoming pregnant, understanding that Butter was the last female in the herd who should be allowed to breed. Mother nature is much wiser than the zookeepers at the Biopark.

I’m not sure who will succeed me. It should have been my daughter, Ryoko, but one of the keepers ran very fast towards Ryoko when she was very heavily pregnant and terrified her, so she jumped up and ran away as fast as she could. When she sat down her body heaved 3 times and she had a miscarriage. She ended up having to have a cesarean (C-section) to deliver her babies, only one of whom survived, Ryosuke. Ryoko didn’t eat for 2 weeks and became very weak. When she was introduced back into the herd (she had been in a separate enclosure after giving birth) she was attacked and so had to be separated again. She has been separated from the herd ever since.

I would like Aoba to succeed me. I worry that Milk is hiding her aggression for the moment but might fight to become leader in the future.

I find it interesting that my favourite human likes the same capybaras who I like. She understands the problem we have with Butter. It is a pity she is not our zookeeper.

Postscript:

My favourite human says: “One thing Hinase taught me was that capybaras are much more aware of everything going on around them including what the humans are up to, then people realise. After Donguri died, Hinase began coming over to me. I was slow to realise that she knew exactly who I was and assumed that I had been Donguri’s slave and benefactor because Donguri was leader of the herd. Now that she, Hinase, had become leader of the herd, she assumed I would treat her the way I had treated Donguri. I never interacted with Hinase when Donguri was alive so I find it very illuminating that she knew exactly who I was and what she wanted from me. Most people have no idea that capybaras have this intelligent understanding and awareness of life going on around them.

In fact most humans completely underestimate our intelligence.

One Of My Most Interesting Blogs: Capybara Herd Behaviour; Very Interesting Capybara Psychology カピバラ群れ行動. 水豚群体行为

Comportamiento de Rebaño de Capibara. поведение стадо капибара.  Comportamento de Rebanho de Capivara.

I am afraid I have had to remove the photos as some nasty person has been removing the watermark from my photos and uploading them to the internet. It is illegal to remove the watermark.

PBS recently broadcast a documentary: “Equus, Story of the Horse”. I found this excellent documentary especially interesting because the horses’ herd behaviour seemed identical in some respects, but not all, to the capybara herd behaviour I have observed. Specifically, capybaras and horses are social animals who use emotions to communicate with each other.

NWN Aoba looking radiant 2016

This emotional intelligence is one of the things which attracted me to capybaras. Capybaras (at least those capybaras who are used to people or are bonded with humans) are more sensitive to human emotions (including when you are injured or ill) than many people. People I know who have lived with rodents, including rats, as well as dogs, ALL say that the rodents are more sensitive to their emotions and more intelligent than dogs.

Research has shown that the parts of the brain which receive “olfactory signals” from the nose, also do other things, such as storing memories or provoking emotions. This explains why some smells can bring back old memories (remember Proust’s book “Remembrance of Things Past” – “A La Recherche Du Temps Perdu”, and the involuntary memories from childhood brought back by the smell of a Madeleine cake dipped in tea). This research explains why capybaras, with their vastly superior sense of smell, are able to identify people, and also peoples’ emotional state. This also explains capybaras’ emotional sensitivity and intelligence.

The leader of the herd is not necessarily the biggest, or the physically strongest, but the horse/capybara who is the strongest mentally, the horse/capybara with the personality to be a leader. In some species the leader also has to be an animal who is liked by other members of the group/herd. Donguri was just such a natural leader, very wise, intelligent, compassionate and curious. She only had to raise her nose to assert her authority; she avoided aggression. She was also very well liked by the other capybaras in her herd. Hinase, the current leader, is mentally very strong and tough minded, as is her daughter Ryoko who was destined to succeed mother, Hinase, as leader of the herd, before the tragedy surrounding her pregnancy.

Video:  How Hinase Maintains Her Authority over the Herdカピバラチーフが群れをどのようにコントロールしているか

Hinase is number 1 in the hierarchy of capybaras at Nagasaki Bio Park. As she approaches, most of the capybaras sit up, alert and ready to move away quickly if they sense she will be aggressive towards them. She seems to like this behaviour which acknowledges her leadership status, and it usually means she will not chase them.

 In this video, the keeper has hidden some pellets in the palm frond among the bed of leaves. Hinase realises this and as she approaches the food Hinase barks and the other capybaras move quickly away. Hinase probably also sends out an ultrasonic communication, at a frequency inaudible to human ears, which the other capybaras react to.

Horses and capybaras who are not popular with other members of their herd seek out human company. Maple, at Nagasaki Bio Park, is not popular with the senior capybaras but is a favourite of the keepers. When the other capybaras go into the pond she usually stays behind, sitting beside the bamboo stall hoping to be fed. Hinase particularly dislikes Butter, Maple’s daughter, and tries to attack her, so Butter takes refuge beside humans, often sitting between the legs of visitors.

Video:  Brilliant Mother Momiji Intimidates Maple for Attacking Her Daughter Aoba    もみじが積極的なカエデから娘の青葉を守る

Maple frequently tries to attack Momiji’s daughter, Aoba. Maple’s intention is to injure Aoba, although usually Aoba manages to outrun Maple. Momiji is a brilliant mother. In this video, Momiji indicates to Maple that she is not welcome after Maple has tried to attack Aoba. Momiji never attacks Maple, she just “frog marches ” Maple away. The senior capybaras do not like Maple and you can see Hinase, leader of the herd, looking on with great interest while she eats her meal, towards the end of the video.

 Capybaras, like horses, who are not popular with their herd members, seek out humans and Maple is a favourite of the keepers, which is why the keepers never intervene to protect Aoba. However, the keepers do intervene (as in this video) when Momiji chases Maple. Most of the keepers do not spend time observing capybara behaviour, and therefore do not understand the behaviours they witness.

I wish somebody would do a scientific study deciphering the body language, olfactory signals, vocalisations (some of which are outside the range of human hearing), which capybaras use in their relationships with other capybaras, as they negotiate their position in the hierarchy and during agonistic/aggressive encounters. Momiji has a very forceful personality, and you can feel that strength as her body bristles and stiffens, when she points her nose to intimidate another capybara. Hinase’s intimidatory stance is not as obvious to me, but the other capybaras seem to know not to challenge her.

Video:  The Great Capybara Chase グレートカピバラチェイスバターとヒナーゼ

Hinase, leader of the herd at Nagasaki Bio Park, dislikes Butter. She also does not like the neutered males in her herd mating. There is a very good reason for this as these males are too closely related to the females in the herd, and should have left the herd when they were one-year-old, as they would if they were living in the wild. Hinase, of course, does not understand that the males have been neutered. The neutered males, Choco and Doughnut, only mate with Maple and Maple’s daughter Butter. In this video, Donut has been mating with Butter and Hinase is angry. She chases Butter, but Butter always manages to get away, these days.

From my observations I would say Butter does not behave the way Hinase would like her to behave, as a junior member of the herd. Hinase sees her role as leader of the herd, in part to ensure the appropriate behaviour of herd members. As she approaches a capybara, she seems to want that capybara to become alert (the equivalent of “standing to attention”), ready to move quickly away if the capybara thinks Hinase might be aggressive. This act of becoming alert is usually enough to guarantee that Hinase will leave the capybara alone.

It would be completely wrong to assume that Butter is unhappy in the herd. She understands the behaviour of the capybaras and is much, much happier than a pet capybara bonded to a human would be.

Observing capybaras I am very aware when there has been some communication between two capybaras, by their behaviour and the way they react. However, the nature of this communication is frequently a mystery to me as a human. Sometimes I can see the capybara’s diaphragm vibrate and I can hear an almost inaudible, vibratory sound, like the rush of wind.

(A non sequitur, but interesting: The ancestor of all modern horses, who lived some 40 million years ago, had 4 toes on his front feet and 3 toes on his hind feet, just like capybaras! Some capybaras have an enlarged toe on their front feet, the second toe from the inside of the foot. Today’s horses run on an enlarged, evolved single toe. This is in part what gives horses their speed; the fact that they barely touch the ground as they run, which reduces resistance.)

Horses faces are very expressive; 17 facial expressions have been identified in horses, one more than in dogs and 3 more than chimpanzees exhibit. Capybaras have very expressive eyes/faces. I wish someone would do the research on how many facial expressions capybaras have.

Facial expressions is a relatively new field of study, as scientists have come to realise that some species, especially mammals, have a rich repertoire of facial expressions. Facial Action Unit is a tool which maps the face muscles, and the different ways these muscles can move, and categorises what sort of expressions are exhibited when particular muscles are activated, and in what situations these expressions are exhibited. I.e. which facial muscles are moving and in which situations.

Capybaras are very gregarious, social animals and they are exceptionally sensitive emotionally. Research has shown that the limbic system, including the amygdala and the hippocampus, which are important in processing emotions, is shared between all mammals, including humans and capybaras. This means that most animal species experience similar emotional responses to situations, both unpleasant and pleasant, as we humans. We share the same ancestry as all other mammals. There is evolutionary continuity among animals. All mammals share neuroanatomical structures and neurochemical pathways that are important for feelings.

In the light of this, it is long overdue that every human should understand that animals are much more than just CUTE. We should all understand and respect animals, and treat them the way we would wish to be treated. We are so privileged to be able to share their lives.

The Sounds Capybaras Make. Capybaras’ Vocalisations, Calls and Barks サウンドは、カピバラメイク。カピバラ発声、呼び出し、樹皮

The Sounds Capybaras Make. Capybaras’ Vocalisations, Calls and Barks サウンドは、カピバラメイク。カピバラ発声、呼び出し、樹皮

I am afraid I have had to remove the photos as some nasty person has been removing the watermark from my photos and uploading them to the internet. It is illegal to remove the watermark.

Capybaras are a very vocal species and vocal communication is very important to them in terms of regulating social encounters and alerting other members of their herd to what is happening in their environment such as the presence of predators or babies becoming isolated from the herd.

Capybaras are very gregarious and frequently vocalize. Some of their vocalisations are outside the range of human hearing at ultrasonic or infrasonic levels. Capybaras also communicate through body language and smell. Capybaras have very high olfactory and emotional intelligence.

You Have Never Heard Capybaras Sound like This 興味深い奇妙なカピバラの発声

ヒナセとモミジは親友です。長崎バイオパークヒエラルキーで1位と2位.  Hinase, number 1 in the herd hierarchy, and Momiji, number 2 in the herd hierarchy, are the best of friends. They play together in the pond every day for several hours, guard the entrance to the Onsen in winter and sometimes they won’t allow any other capybara to enter the Onsen. They often call each other, often a strident “come here” vocalisation, especially when one of them is in the pond and wants the other to join her. On hearing the “come here” call the other capybara will usually swim over, but not always. Momiji is a very intense capybara and her call sounds particularly urgent and strident. Momiji usually leads when they go off together, and takes much more interest in herd activities. Where food is concerned Hinase always wins. Hinase can be a bit of a bully and when they are playing in the pond she usually rides on Momiji and sometimes becomes aggressive, at which Momiji swims away quickly but soon returns so she must know Hinase’s aggression will be short lived. Hinase gets very frustrated because despite being number 1 in the hierarchy she is not allowed to mate with Kona, the breeding male, who is in a separate enclosure. Aoba, Momiji’s daughter, should be the next female capybara to mate but the current chief capybara keeper has no understanding of capybara behaviour or capybara husbandry and chooses the female capybaras who will allow her to “interfere” with the pups as soon as they are born.

NWN Cookie 21 Dec 2016 024

Cookie

Capybaras make the most beautiful sounds and vocalisations. When they are happy, or pleased to see you, they make a soft, chuckling sound known in academic circles as “click call”.

A Capybara chorus, when a number of capybaras sing in unison, is truly magical. You can hear a capybara chorus when a group of capybaras decides to go on the move; perhaps they decide on a mass exodus from land into their pond. The “singing” can go on for half an hour or longer. A group of females interested in the male capybara will also make a beautiful, exciting sound and the male capybara will respond.

In this video you can hear a herd of female capybaras singing in unison. Capybaras make the most beautiful vocalisations when the females sing to the males and the males sing to the females. In this video the female capybaras set off en masse to visit Toku, the male capybara. This procession may start when a very high ranking female capybara, it used to be Donguri, sets off towards Toku’s enclosure. She will sometimes bark to announce her departure and she very often makes a deep, gruff call. Toku also often sings when they arrive. When they arrive at Toku’s enclosure some of the capybaras rub their morillos on the fence of his enclosure or on the rope barrier just before the entrance to his enclosure. This morillo rubbing is usually done by the most senior capybaras in the hierarchy, Donguri, Hinase, Maple, Momiji and Zabon, although Ryoko, Aoba and some of the younger ones also rub their morillos.

The capybaras also send chemical messages by squeezing their anal scent glands, which they do with a characteristic walk crossing their hind legs. At Nagasaki Bio Park the female capybaras also deposit faeces and urine at the entrance to Toku’s enclosure which indicates their status, reproductive cycle etc. Much bottom sniffing goes on as well.

When a capybara is anxious he or she will repeatedly make a shrill warning call, which sounds like a whistle (see video number 8). Baby capybaras make this call quite frequently when they lose contact with their mothers.

Subordinate male capybaras’ main role in the herd is to act as lookouts. They stay on the periphery of the herd and make warning calls at the first sign of danger.

A mother capybara makes the most wonderful sound as her babies suckle. She goes into a trancelike state, her eyes glaze over, her hair rises in pleasure (known as pilo-erection) and you can see her nose vibrate with each vocalisation. (See note number 3 with video).

As stated above, Capybaras also communicate in sound ranges inaudible to human ears. If you are next to a capybara when he/she makes an infrasonic call you will feel his/her body vibrate. Some capybaras also “huff” when they are annoyed, as a protest.

1. This is the sound of a very happy capybara: Tuff’n is one of the most vocal capybaras I have met. When he was a young pup Tuff’n sometimes vocalised for much of the day; a juvenile i.e., very young capybara does this vocalisation to keep in touch with his herd and to let the herd know where he is.  Tuff’s herd was Romeo.  Now that he is an adult Tuff’n only “sings” for specific reasons, for example, in anticipation of being petted or being given food, making his ‘happy sound’ (click call) as he wanders round the house, or when he is eating or even when he “poohs”! Tuff’n is a hedonist and loves to be pampered or to laze all day in the sun. He has a very loud voice as well, even though, in this video, he is still just a 2-month-old baby. Sometimes his happy call is interspersed with a shrill call, as in this video. Tuff’n is bonded to Romeo, whereas Romeo is bonded to the humans he lives with. Tuff’n becomes very anxious if he doesn’t know where Romeo is. Romeo becomes very anxious if his humans leave the home.

2. The sound of a whole herd of capybaras singing in unison is truly magical. Here you can hear the herd singing loudly in the background as you watch young Yuzu slipping about as she tries to scratch herself on a slippery, mossy ledge in the pond.カピバラの群れの曲の全体的な音が一斉に素晴らしい、本当に魔法です。ここでは、滑り若いゆずを見ることができます。彼女は苔むした、滑りやすい棚の上に自分自身を傷つけしようとします。池の中

Here is another video of fifteen Capybaras singing in unison. Everything comes alive with the magical sound of Capybaras. This chorus goes on for up to half an hour or longer. Some afternoons we were treated to this chorus on at least two or three occasions over the course of the afternoon, other afternoons no chorus at all. After watermelon time, one or two capybaras make their escape to the freedom of the pond, while the others remain in the petting area. Then the chorus starts as the capybaras begin to think about moving en masse into the water. After about 10 minutes the exodus begins. The four youngest tend to be reluctant to leave since they get the most pampering and feeding, and they know that if they stay behind every visitor who comes into their enclosure will buy some bamboo or at least one container of ‘Capybara’ pellets to feed them.

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最大限に音を上げてください Please turn sound up to maximum
斉に歌っている15頭のカピバラたち、これほど不思議な光景はありません。すべては、カピバラたちの不思議な音声で盛り上がっています。 このコーラス(合唱)は、少なくとも30分に及んでいます。

3. The sound a capybara mother makes as her babies suckle is truly magical. She goes into a trancelike state, her eyes glaze over and she starts to “sing”. She relaxes and seems to be very happy. Based on my observations it seems to me the sensation of the babies suckling at her teats maybe a very pleasurable one for a mother capybara.

4. This is the joyful sound of capybaras romancing: Female capybaras rub and nibble the male capybara and vocalise:

5 At the start of this video Kaede, a female capybara, emits a series of calls. Kaede frequently escapes from the enclosure, but unlike the other capybaras who like to escape, she doesn’t always go to the lush green grass near the enclosure. She often goes to visit Ran, a male capybara all alone in a tiny pen nearby. She sits against the wall of his pen and he comes over to be as close to her as possible on the other side of the wall. They cannot see each other because of the solid wall. Kaede is low down in the female hierarchy so perhaps she sees her chances of mating with the very desirable Yasushi as slender and is setting her sights on Ran instead.

The capybaras sitting by the gate in the video are all hoping to escape. It tends to be the same capybaras all the time who like to escape. Yasushi is the magnificent long-haired male in this video, showing an interest in some of the females; you will notice that the females are also showing an interest in Yasushi by sniffing his rear end and his testicles. He is always the centre of attention for the female capybaras at Nagasaki Bio Park.

“ビデオの始まりはカエデから(2008年9月10日に生まれた雌のカピバラ)は一連の囁きを発します。私は彼女が何を言ったのか、囁いたのか、知っていいればと思います。カエデは、一番の脱出の名人。(カピバラのエリアから)しかし、逃げるのを好む他のカピバラとは異なり、彼女は構内の近くの青々とした緑の芝生に必ずしも行きません。 彼女はランを訪ねにしばしば行きます。そして、オスのカピバラの近くで小さな囲いの中で一人きりで居ます。彼女はオスのカピバラの反対側に座ります。そしてオスは、出来るだけ親しくしようと近寄ってきます。カエデは、女性のカピバラ階級の中では下位にいます。おそらく彼女はヤスシと結婚する可能性を感じいますが、、ランにも興味を持たせるようにしています。ランはたぶん生物学的にみると、将来パークのカピバラのボスになる存在でしょう。                                                                                        ビデオの中で門のそばに座っているカピバラのすべては、逃げることを望んでいます。 誰が逃げるのが好きかは、常に同じカピバラである傾向があります。 ヤスシはこのビデオの中の素晴らしい長髪のカピバラです。そして、女性の何人かに対する関心を示します。あなたは、女性が彼の後部と彼のピンク色の大事なところ(男性自身)のにおいを嗅ぐことによってヤスシに対する関心も示していると気がつきます。 彼は、常に長崎バイオパークの雌のカピバラの注目の的です

6. I believe this unusual sounding capybara vocalisation is sometimes a sign of frustration. This vocalisation is usually made by very high ranking females and breeding males. Donguri makes this call when she wants to visit the male capybara, Toku, however he is in a separate enclosure and she cannot be with him. Hinase and Momiji, number 1 and number 2 in the Bio Park hierarchy, frequently call each other like this, to come to them.  In summer, they often do this at around 1 pm to play in the pond or to go to visit the breeding male.

On the occasion shown in this video Donguri has already made this strange vocalisation several times. It is barely audible the second time (after about 28 seconds). She is calling to Momiji who is in a separate enclosure with her three babies. Donguri is Momiji’s mother. In the wild Donguri would have access to all the capybaras in the herd including her grandchildren and great grandchild, so it must be very upsetting and frustrating for her that she cannot get to them. Donguri also got very upset when a film crew entered Momiji’s enclosure and Momiji became very stressed. Donguri makes the same call when she hurries over to Toku’s enclosure. She has been rubbing her morillo and marking and urinating in Toku’s presence so she may be coming into oestrus.

This is a very interesting sounding call.  I have never seen reference to it in research papers on capybara vocalisations.

Missing photo: Donguri, leader of the female herd of capybaras at Nagasaki Bio Park, wants to visit the male capybara, Toku who is kept on his own separate enclosure. I love the soft, sweet, gentle look in Donguri’s eye as she thinks about Toku and calls to him. She is very frustrated that she cannot be with him.

7. The Bark: This is the sound a capybara makes when he or she barks. This bark has a number of different meanings. It can be a warning, either of danger or that the capybara who is barking is not happy about something. Capybaras bark to protest. In the wild a male capybara will bark to warn another male capybara to keep off his territory. In the wild capybaras will also bark when they perceive danger. This might be a predator such as a jaguar or caiman. They will also bark at other capybaras in the herd if they are upset, frustrated or annoyed with that capybara. Momiji (a mother capybara at Nagasaki Bio Park) would bark in frustration at her baby Aoba’s frequent demands for milk, Aoba was an exceptionally greedy baby capybara and Momiji is an excellent mother so she always gave in to Aoba’s demands, unlike Maple who often refused milk to her babies, Cookie and Butter.

The bark is also used as an alert call; for example at Nagasaki Bio Park, Donguri, the number one capybara in the hierarchy, may bark when she hears that breakfast is about to be served. On one occasion when a serious fight broke out between the two babies, Aoba and Cookie, Donguri jumped up and barked before rushing over to intervene and break up the fight. When capybaras are fighting over the food troughs there may be barks of protest and warning. In the wild the main role for the subordinate male capybaras is to act as lookout, and make warning barks. These subordinate male capybaras stay on the periphery of the herd.

8.  Capybara Alarm Calls “Danger Humans” カピバラアラームが呼び出し「危険の人間」

Most afternoons at about 4 PM Goemon, a 4-year-old male capybara who was born at Nagasaki Bio Park and is in a separate enclosure to keep him apart from the females, makes the most compelling, frantic calls. These vocalisations include a very shrill component, sometimes followed by a sound that reminds me of the call of the kookaburra. It is fantastic, a great privilege, to be in his presence when he is making these calls. The keeper said he is just demanding his dinner! (see video below)!

Goemon is a very macho male with a huge, glossy morillo. Toku, the breeding male who is not related to the Bio Park herd, is by contrast a much calmer male, highly intelligent and with a soft, gentle look in his eye. Every day if there are no females visiting Goemon he starts “strutting his stuff” – vocalising, doing some eye-catching behaviour such as aggressively playing with a bamboo frond, doing a very stylised version of “the walk” rubbing his anal glands. His vocalisation attracts the attention of the females some of whom will always go to visit him. Toku never goes in for such aggressively masculine behaviour. His vocalisations are gentler. Toku seems just as popular with the females.

I have only heard Aki’s descendants make this distinctive call. Aki was Donguri’s aggressive younger sister who was number 1 in the female Bio Park hierarchy in 2012 when I first visited. Goemon’s mother was Aki and his father was Yasushi. Syu, another male capybara whose mother and father were also Aki and Yasushi, (but who was very gentle and affectionate and a great favourite of Donguri) go to sleep stand up and walk them to consider wanted to just more if you, also used to make a similar, but less frantic, call at about the same time each afternoon when he was one years old. Syu was 10 months younger than Goemon.

In the video below, Syu repeatedly makes this alarm call (whistle) alerting the rest of the herd. Syu is the subordinate male in the herd at Nagasaki Bio Park. He was the most vocal of the capybaras (other than the babies) and frequently made this call at about 3:30 PM in the afternoon. Donguri, the leader of the herd, seems quite concerned. When a capybara is anxious he or she will repeatedly make a shrill warning call, which sounds like a whistle. Baby capybaras make this call quite frequently when they lose contact with their mothers.

9. Tooth Chattering 歯のチャタリング
Tooth chattering is only used in an aggressive context, such as fights for a better place in the hierarchy, or between animals from different herds, or between animals who do not like each other. Tooth chattering often occurs when one capybara challenges a more senior capybara in the hopes of moving up the hierarchy. Tooth chattering also occurs during feeding disputes when capybaras are competing for food. During aggressive/agonistic encounters capybaras make this non-vocal sound by clicking their upper teeth against the lower teeth. It is a warning to the other capybara to stop being aggressive in the hopes of avoiding a fight. Usually the subordinate capybara will assume a subordinate posture and move away. Tooth chattering is sometimes followed by fighting and bites.

In the video below; Donut, the highest ranking capybara in the herd at Nagasaki Bio Park, is exhibiting aggression to Ryoko who has been separated from the herd for her own protection, following a C-section which left her very weak and she was then attacked by some other herd members. Ryoko is not at all upset by Donut’s behaviour; quite the contrary his behaviour and engagement with her Relieved the boredom and stress of being separated from the herd. In fact she often deliberately attracts his attention in the hopes that he will come over to entertain her, by jumping in or out of her little pond with a loud splash, or running round and round flamboyantly or doing some other activity that will attract his attention. Ryoko is one of the most tough-minded capybaras I have ever met but it is always undesirable to separate a capybara from the herd and more effort could have been made to reunite Ryoko with the herd once she had gained her strength.

In the last two videos Maple is exhibiting aggression to Momiji. Momiji was separated from the herd for 12 weeks before and after she gave birth to Choco and Donut. Separating a capybara from the herd is potentially dangerous for that capybara and these days the Biopark only separates pregnant capybaras at night prior to giving birth and for about one week after giving birth. Maple continually tried to attack Momiji when Momiji rejoined the herd, possibly for her place in the hierarchy. This was in 2013 but by 2016 Momiji had become the second highest ranking capybara in the herd (Hinase was number one) and Maple was not popular with the senior capybaras in the herd, particularly Hinase and Momiji who frequently intimidated her, so in a sense Momiji got her revenge.

You can hear and see tooth chattering just after 1 minute and 8 seconds and again for longer at about 1 minute and 32 seconds. Yuzu is doing the tooth chattering. She has been put in a separate enclosure because six of the capybaras in the main herd attacked her. I was told she doesn’t defend herself which is why these capybaras pick on her, but I don’t know if that is accurate.

Capybaras exhibit complex social behaviour, they are very territorial and their social dominance hierarchy is notable. The herd is very cohesive and does not tolerate individuals from other social groups. Subordinate males play an important role as lookouts for capybara intruders from other herds and potential dangers such as predators.

 This is the anxious call/vocalisation of a baby capybara. In this case little Donut has lost his mother, Momiji. Momiji hears his cries and comes looking for him, then Donut and brother Choco suckle.

10. The Appeasement Call/Vocalisation: this is the call made by a subordinate capybara who is being chased or attacked by a more senior capybara. In essence it is saying “please don’t attack me, I am no threat to you, I respect your place in the hierarchy”. I have seen no reference to this vocalisation in research papers. 

This is a Summary of the Research on Capybara Vocalisations:

Capybaras are a very vocal species and vocal communication is very important to them in terms of regulating social encounters and alerting other members of their herd to what is happening in their environment such as the presence of predators or babies becoming isolated from the herd.

Syu makes repeated alarm calls. シュー繰り返しアラーム呼び出しを
Syu makes repeated alarm calls. シュー繰り返しアラーム呼び出しを

The capybara’s vocal repertoire comprises seven call types: Whistle, Cry, Whine, Squeal, Bark, Click and Tooth chattering. The functions of these calls fall into four categories based on the behavioural context in which they are emitted: Contact calls, Alarm calls, Distress calls and Agonistic calls (i.e. agonistic means unfriendly encounters). There may be more vocalisations based on my observations.

The categorisation of capybaras is as follows: Adults are those capybaras weighing 40 kg or more, Sub-adults weigh between 20 and 40 kg, and Juveniles weigh up to 20 kg.

Capybaras make contact calls, most usually click calls, more frequently than any other type of call.   Contact calls are used to promote cohesion among individuals that live in social groups.   The whistle and whine were the least frequent type of call.

The Click Call is significantly different for each herd of capybaras indicating that these calls are used to recognise members of the same group and reflect the territorial nature of capybaras. These click calls indicate learned behaviour. The differences were in terms of the length of the click calls, the minimum and maximum frequencies and the dominant frequency.

There are differences in the calls made; these differences are based on age and social group. The whistle call was emitted mostly by juveniles. Researchers in South America did not observe any juveniles make the bark call. However, at Nagasaki Bio Park I have seen several young pups aged from 2 weeks to several months, bark on several occasions. I also saw a one-year-old male capybara bark frequently. I have even heard, on at least one occasion,  the agonistic (i.e. unfriendly) tooth chattering from a young pup only just over a week old. Tooth chattering is primarily used by adults.

Syu makes Alarm Call 当確 アラームコールを行います
Syu makes Alarm Call 当確 アラームコールを行います

Alarm Calls and Distress Calls:  in this category come Isolation calls, indicating social separation, which are emitted by animals isolated from the herd and who have lost visual contact with other members of the herd often during foraging. In this situation the capybara becomes distressed. Babies, known as juveniles, emit a call known as a whistle. This is often used by a baby to attract the attention of his/her mother. Female adults also sometimes use this whistle call when experiencing separation or calling to another capybara herd member who has been separated in a different enclosure. The Cry call was emitted by all 3 age groups, (adult, sub-adult and juvenile) and occurred when an individual became lost from the herd during travelling. The capybara would begin to move while emitting a sequence of cries. Babies also emit this call when competing for food.

When Aoba was injured she went into hiding in the pond under the boardwalk at Nagasaki Bio Park. When she still had not appeared the next morning the keepers became anxious and called her to come out with no response. Aoba’s mother, Momiji, understanding the situation then began calling frantically to her five-year-old daughter. About 10 minutes later Aoba swam out. I found this extremely interesting; it showed how strong the relationship between mother and daughter capybara was and what an exceptional mother Momiji was. You can see this in part of the video below:

The Whine Call was emitted by all age groups during feeding behaviour and when trying to grab food from another capybara. This call was also used when the animals were waiting for food from a caretaker, whether or not the caretaker was within sight. The capybara whines in the expectation of receiving food.

Both the whine and the click have been observed while the capybaras are travelling. The click call is probably used to maintain contact during foraging or locomotion and the whine is to request food.

The Click Call: this call, emitted by all age groups, is a primary means of communication between members of the herd. It is a contact call to keep members of the herd together and is frequently heard when the herd gathers to forage or move as a group, very often in single file. It is also used as a greeting during affiliative (i.e. friendly) interactions between two capybaras, or when a capybara joins a group of capybaras in his herd. These click calls can be heard at night when capybaras are foraging as a way of keeping close together and maintaining contact in the dark. The structural characteristics of this call are: short duration, low frequencies and low auditory range. This suggests that the call is used over short distances and designed not to be heard by predators. It is often used in situations where members of the herd may not be able to see each other either because of low light conditions or when resting hidden in vegetation.

The click call is also emitted when a capybara comes close to a human observer or caretaker. I personally have heard this call when a capybara decides to do something pleasant such as join me; I could hear the sound getting louder and louder as the capybara approached and then jumped on the bed and snuggled down beside me. I would therefore describe this click call as an indicator of anticipated pleasure or enjoyment.

The click call, sounding very slightly different and louder, is also used during agonistic (i.e. unfriendly) encounters such as feeding disputes between adults. In these instances the click calls may be designed to appease or to decrease the likelihood of aggressive encounters during a conflict. In agonistic encounters the phrases were frequently comprised of only two notes. Clicks calls are often punctuated by cries.

Syu and baby Choco have been making repeated alarm calls. シューと赤ちゃんチョコを繰り返しアラームコールを作っています
Syu and baby Choco have been making repeated alarm calls.
シューと赤ちゃんチョコを繰り返しアラームコールを作っています

The Bark is an alarm or alert call and is also given as a warning that the capybara is not happy about something and may be considering an attack. I.e. it has a double function as an alarm/alert call to other capybaras and as a warning threat often to predators. Juveniles in South America have not been observed using this vocalisation according to the research papers I have read. However, as mentioned above, I personally have witnessed two-week old juvenile capybaras barking and slightly older capybaras including a one-year-old male capybara also barking. A capybara may bark when a human being appears or an unfamiliar noise occurs. During this call the capybara adopts an alert posture, characterised by the elevation of head and ears and sometimes by pilo–erection on their head and neck only. After a period of freezing the capybaras may resume their activity, or flee if there is a predator or other threat present. Some research has suggested “Barking is a signal associated with mobbing behaviour” but this would need to be confirmed.

(The intensity and frequency variations in alarm calls might provide important clues about the animals environment, such as the predator type or the place where it comes from. This has been observed in other species. More research needs to be done on this.)

Squeal, emitted by all age groups when a capybara was restrained (during medical procedures etc). The squeal indicates pain or distress, even injury, and may also indicate fear and may act as a warning to other herd members of danger such as the presence of a predator. I have also heard it used by babies during fights when they are bitten.

Tooth chattering is a non-vocal emission caused by the capybara clicking its upper teeth against its lower teeth. Tooth chattering only occurs during agonistic encounters such as fights often over a place in the hierarchy, feeding disputes when capybaras are competing for food, or between animals from different herds, or animals who do not like each other. It often starts just before a conflict/fight/attack. It serves as a warning to deter another capybara in the hopes of avoiding a fight. Usually the subordinate capybara will assume a subordinate posture and move away, thus avoiding conflict. Tooth chattering is sometimes followed by bites. The length of tooth chattering can go on for 64 “notes”.

As capybaras are very territorial it makes sense that there are structural vocal differences between different herds. In some species the structural differences may be associated with specific characteristics of each different conspecific (i.e. members of the same species) group such as the size of the herd. With the exception of the males the female members of a capybara herd are all related so the signals are indications of kinship and a way for members of the herd to recognise and identify each other. Therefore these vocal differences may be associated with vocal learning or cultural transmission.

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What Should I Feed My Pet Capybara? Capybara Diet

 

I am afraid I have had to remove the photos as some nasty person has been removing the watermark from my photos and uploading them to the internet. It is illegal to remove the watermark.

Includes details of Milk Formula specifically formulated for baby capybaras

Marvin and Elizabeth asked me to write this blog. They felt that when their first capybara came to live with them the information they needed was not available on the Internet.

Please Don’t Let Any More Capybaras Die Prematurely.

Templeton, The Brightest of Stars, who should still be with us today

Templeton, The Brightest of Stars, who should still be with us today

Templeton, The Brightest of Stars, two weeks before he passed away In the wild baby Capybaras stand look out on their Mother while she sleeps.

Templeton, two weeks before he passed away
In the wild baby Capybaras stand look out on their Mother while she sleeps.

What Should I Feed My Pet Capybara?

This blog is written in memory of Templeton, a young capybara, the brightest of stars, who died far too prematurely when he was only four months old. Marvin and Elizabeth believe that his diet caused his death. They did not feed him junk food, but they did feed him a lot of corn and carrots which his young digestive system could not cope with

Put simply:  DO NOT FEED YOUR CAPYBARA ANYTHING WITH ADDED SUGAR AND ABSOLUTELY NO CANDY or  JUNK FOOD, or  SWEET FRUIT or Bird Seed.

Rodents are addicted to sugar and sweet foods. Another reason I would never introduce anything sweet into a capybara diet as this can lead to the capybara becoming curious about other foods which he/she had never shown any interest in before.

Templeton, So Full of Life and Oh So Cute. Here he is with Yellow Cat

Templeton, So Full of Life and Oh So Cute. Here he is with Yellow Cat

The capybara digestive system evolved over 30 million years to take advantage of a diet that was high in fibre and low in nutritional content. If you want your capybara to live a long and healthy life you should try to replicate this diet as closely as possible.

Sugar and Stress are two of the most potentially life-threatening causal factors a pet capybara can encounter. Capybaras should not be given anything with sugar in it like candy, ice cream, sweetened yoghurt, ice lollies etc. Neither should they be given junk food; this seems like common sense but it is surprising how many people, out of ignorance, will feed their pets whatever junk food they are eating. In addition, Exotic Animal Vets warn about the potential harm in feeding the naturally occuring ‘sugar’ in sweet vegetables and fruit, specifically mentioning sweetcorn because of the high sugar content, so you can imagine how disastrous any food with added sugar would be.

Templeton, So Friendly and Adorable

Templeton, So Friendly and Adorable

Animals do not have the same tolerance for unnatural feed that humans have. This is especially true in the case of a capybara, where its digestive system is exceptionally sensitive, and has been described by at least one expert as the ‘weak link’ in terms of capybara health. I know of at least two capybaras who died very prematurely, in one case after only a few months, because of diet.

The healthiest pet capybaras that I have met are fed a diet of fresh untreated grass, hay (Orchard Hay and Timothy Hay which are not too high quality), aquatic reeds and guinea pig feed.

The olive shaped, green, separated droppings  are a sign of a healthy capybara in the wild.  Softer, sausage shaped faeces are an indication that the capybara is being fed the wrong diet. Fruit, carrots, sweet corn etc may be responsible.

Please also see this blog for information about plants, chemicals and other potentially lethal dangers that capybaras may encounter:
https://capybaraworld.wordpress.com/2014/06/29/capybaras-beware-of-toxic-plants-chemicals-and-poisonous-animals-like-scorpions-and-snakes-humans-remove-these-from-your-land-garden-and-yard-%e3%82%ab%e3%83%94%e3%83%90%e3%83%a9%e3%81%ab/

HEALTHY TEETH:  To avoid your pet capybara ending up with very painful, life threatening (not to mention expensive) teeth problems, it is essential to include a lot of coarse grazing in a capybara diet.  Unlimited Fresh grass should be a staple part of every capybara diet.   Lower quality hay is more suitable for a capybara’s digestive system and means they will eat more, which equates to more fiber and more tooth wear. The coarseness of the hay keeps their teeth ground down and healthy. This need to keep their teeth healthy should never, ever be underestimated. It is very important for capybara teeth to be kept in check, as they would be in the wild grazing on coarse grasses. I have seen capybaras chewing on twigs and stones as a method of self-help dentistry. Capybaras may grind their teeth when they sleep, which also helps keep their teeth in check.

The Hay and Guinea pig feed should be available 24/7. In the case of Romeo and Tuff’n, there is a large bale of Orchard/Timothy Hay mix in the living room. Whenever the capybaras want to chew on something, or they feel hungry, they go to the hay (or guinea pig feed). This means they do not chew pillowcases, plastic, comforters or any other inappropriate items of furniture.

Marvin and Elizabeth believe a product called ‘Bene-bac’ (which is a pro-biotic) is a lifesaver, and could have saved the life of Templeton, their first capybara.  They use it whenever the poohs become softer and sausage shaped. Bene-Bac Small Animal Powder is a concentrated live culture of four common digestive bacteria found in the intestinal tracts of mammals. Bene-Bac is recommended any time an animal experiences stress from changing nutritional or environmental conditions. Contains 20 million CFU per gram of viable lactic acid producing bacteria. Powder formula is easy to mix with water.   It comes in 4 different types – the Benebac designed for rabbits is the correct one to use.

Constipation: Benebac can also be used to treat constipation. It is important to ensure your capybara drink enough water and has access to fresh water to drink 24 hours a day. A healthy diet of unrestricted access to fresh grass should ensure a capybara does not become constipated. You should always consult your vet as soon as you become concerned.

The best animal trainers do not use food as a reward. Capybaras are highly intelligent. In the opinion of many capybara owners they are at least as intelligent as the most intelligent dogs. They are also highly sophisticated emotionally. They respond very well to praise, and are very sensitive to the tone of voice, with a surprisingly large vocabulary. If you say to Romeo “Good Boy, Romeo”, he swells up with pride. This is far more rewarding to him than a sweet toxic food treat.

A new study suggests that most dogs respond more positively to praise than to food.

http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/08/dogs-would-rather-get-belly-rub-treat?utm_source=newsfromscience&utm_medium=facebook-text&utm_campaign=wantatreat-6517

The danger with giving them inappropriate food treats is that they will soon only do what you want in return for a treat. If it is a high energy treat they will no longer eat the copious amounts of grass and hay that they need to maintain a healthy digestive system.

Capybaras are highly emotional animals and do not react well to stress, which can lead to digestive problems. In the wild capybaras have the support of, and close proximity to the herd, for their emotional well-being. As house pets they suffer from separation anxiety to a very high degree if the human with whom they have bonded is not with them. This probably reflects 30 million years of evolution wherein a lone capybara, abandoned by the herd or separated from it, would have little chance of survival.   If you are going to live with a pet capybara it would be kinder to let the capybara bond with another animal who will remain at home all day with the capybara, rather than have him/her bond with you and suffer everytime you have to go out (to work, shopping etc).  A border collie might be the ideal companion.

Milk Formula For Baby Capybaras:

This is the only milk formula specifically formulated for baby capybaras. It has a higher protein content and fat content than other milk formulas for most other species. It comes from Australia.

https://wombaroo.com/shop/ols/products/wombaroo-capybara-milk-replacer-2kg

Wombaroo Capybara Milk Replacer

DIRECTIONS FOR USE: To make 1 litre of milk mix 190g of powder with 870ml of preboiled warm water. Add about half of the water first, mix to a paste then make up to 1 litre with remaining water and mix thoroughly. An electric whisk can be used for mixing.

Feed Impact Colostrum Supplement to new-borns who did not receive sufficient maternal colostrum.

GROWTH & DEVELOPMENT: Typical birth weight is 1.5 – 2.0 kg. Average daily weight gain is about 50-100g per day until weaning at 3 months (approx. 8kg body weight)3 .

Analysis

  • Protein 42%
  • Fat 24%
  • Carbohydrate 22%
  • Ash 6%
  • Moisture 4%
  • Metabolisable Energy (ME) 20MJ/kg

©Wombaroo Food Products, Dec 2017. 10 Oborn Rd, Mt Barker SA 5251 http://www.wombaroo.com.au

CAPYBARA MILK REPLACER 1,2,3

TYPICAL ANALYSIS (Powder)

INGREDIENTS: Whole milk solids, whey protein, casein, vegetable oils, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, stabilised vitamin C, vitamins and minerals.

TYPICAL COMPOSITION PER LITRE OF PREPARED MILK Protein 83g Vitamin E 14mg Folic Acid 1.0mg Sodium 500mg
Fat 49g Vitamin K 1.0mg Vitamin B12 19μg Magnesium 80mg
-Omega 3 1.4g Vitamin C 520mg Biotin 80μg Zinc 5.1mg
-Omega 6 3.4g Thiamine 7.1mg Choline 130mg Iron 5.5mg
Carbohydrate 42g Riboflavin 1.9mg Inositol 100mg Manganese 3.1mg
Energy (ME) 3.9MJ Niacin 29mg Calcium 2.2g Copper 0.8mg
Vitamin A 470μg Pantothenic Acid 11mg Phosphorus 1.6g Iodine 100μg
Vitamin D3 4.6g Pyridoxine 2.4mg Potassium 1400mg Selenium 25μg
TYPICAL ANALYSIS (Powder) Protein 42%
Fat 24%
Carbohydrate 22%
Ash 6%
Moisture 4%
Energy (ME) 20 MJ/kg

_________________________

https://wombaroo.com/shop/ols/products/wombaroo-capybara-milk-replacer-2kg

This is the information Kapi’yva Exotics, a leading breeder of exotic animals, provides for capybara diet on its website:

“Capybaras are true herbivores, their diet in the wild consists almost exclusively of various grasses. In captivity, their diet should consist primarily of guinea pig or livestock feed and plenty of fresh grass or hay. Capybaras do not naturally produce adequate amounts of vitamin C and they can develop scurvy as a result of vitamin C deficiencies. In the wild the large amounts of fresh grass they consume provides the extra vitamin C they need. In captivity, their diet must contain either plenty of fresh grass for grazing or a vitamin C supplement. Most commercial guinea pig diets will contain a vitamin C supplement but these can be very costly if you are feeding multiple adult capybaras. Mazuri and LabDiet guinea pig formulas are available in 25lb and 50lb bags and can be found at, or specially ordered at most feed stores. A much cheaper alternative is livestock or rabbit feed. If used as a staple diet extra vitamin C should be added. The easiest method I’ve found of doing this is to dust or mix their feed with ascorbic acid powder.

I DO NOT recommend feeding fruits, vegetables or other items containing large amounts of sugar on a daily basis. There is some evidence that diets containing large amounts of sugar, even from healthy sources, can cause liver and heart problems.

They have evolved as grazers, feeding primarily grass/hay and guinea pig feed is the best way to mimic their natural diet.”

Some people give horse feed instead of guinea pig pellets primarily for reasons of cost. It is important to read the ingredients of any formula feed as this will dictate your choice.   As horses are considered more valuable than cattle, horse feed is likely to be made of more high-quality ingredients.”

Below I include some information on what not to feed and why. The information comes from exotic pet vets and experienced capybara owners who have done a great deal of research.

Grazing on Unknown Grass: One capybara owner wrote: “We are very cautious about feeding unknown grass. Our rule of thumb, is that if it’s long and neglected, we’ll try it. If it looks too well taken care of, we fear poisons and leave it. It is more likely that fertilisers and weedkillers will be applied to well cared for grass. You also have to always check grass for toxic weeds. We have nightshade in this area. I don’t even know if they would actually eat it, but I’m very cautious.  Water effects fertilizers, but that would not be my main concern. I worry about insecticides and herbicides, which are usually designed to have residual effects that erode over time, not by water.”

Alfalfa:  An exotic pet vet at a leading university veterinary school is quoted as saying ” Absolutely no alfalfa, it is too rich.”  It may also be too high in calcium.

Calcium:  “There may be a concern about too much calcium for rodents and animals who extract extra nutrients through hindgut fermentation, this includes capybaras. There may be a risk of bladder stones or grit from excess calcium. Here’s a hay chart on calcium levels: http://www.guinealynx.info/hay_calcium.html “.

Vegetables:  The Capybaras at Nagasaki Bio Park, some of whom lived to a ripe old age (at least 13 years) were fed vegetables in season. When I was there it was cabbage, carrots and pumpkin. The capybaras at the Bio Park who eat the most carrots do not produce healthy olive shaped faeces. The faeces is soft, barely even sausage shaped.   One capybara owner had this to say about carrots: “I have read online that the sugar level in carrots is on a par with apples and that because of the fat soluble vitamin A, if fed too much (or in a combination with other sources like alfalfa) the vitamin A can build up to toxic levels. She feeds one carrot a day.”

Sweetcorn: every Exotic Pet Vet with experience of capybaras was unanimous in saying you should not feed sweetcorn to capybaras. It is far too sweet.

I would remove all seeds and berries from my garden/yard as soon as they fall from trees.

Below is some information taken from research done on capybaras in the wild in South America:

This excellent book, see link below, is a collection of research papers on capybara, unfortunately finance for research comes from the agricultural industry so that is the primary focus of the research, but there is still a lot of very useful information:

http://www.springer.com/life+sciences/ecology/book/978-1-4614-3999-8

The capybara, Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris, is a herbivorous semi aquatic mammal that grazes near water. A number of physiological and morphological adaptations of the capybaras digestive system allowed this species to meet its energy requirements from a diet with a high fibre and low nutritional content and silica deposits.

These highly fibrous diet components are extremely difficult to digest, therefore herbivores possess specific adaptations for the digestion of these materials. The best known and most common adaptation to a high fibre diet among mammals is fermentation by symbionts (by bacteria and fungi and protozoa), coupled with mechanisms for the digestion and absorption of the products of fermentation. Among mammals there are two distinct types of symbiotic digestion where fermentation occurs. 1) foregut fermentation, as found in cows, and 2) hindgut fermentation as found in rodents.

Hindgut fermenters use the cecum, located between the small and large intestines, as a fermentation chamber, which precludes regurgitation and re-swallowing the fermented plants as a strategy for the absorption of nutrients. In the case of the capybara the process of cecotrophy allows a daily cycle of feeding and reingestion: food goes once along the digestive tract, entering the cecum where it is fermented and then excreted. These excreted products are taken directly from the anus by the herbivore and they pass one more time through the entire digestive tract.  The waste products bypass the cecum and move onto the large intestine, where hard dry faeces are excreted (but not reabsorbed this time). The two processes occur within a 24 hour cycle. It has been argued that, since hindgut fermenters can take advantage of any available directly digestible (i.e. non-fibre) nutrients before the bacterial fermentation takes place, they are more efficient at extracting nutrients from food than foregut fermenters stop

The capybara diet, in the wild, consists mainly of grasses with varying a portion of sedges and just a few other plants

During the wet season when plants are more abundant, capybaras are more selective and spend more time grazing on Hymenachne amplexicaulis, an aquatic grass of high caloric and low fibre content, then on less palatable reeds.

Capybaras are considered predominately diurnal, however groups have been observed grazing during the night.

In the tropics, capybaras spend 31% of their time grazing during the wet season, and 42% in the dry season.

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Pet Capybara Pool Size. What Size Pool Does My Capybara Need?

 

I am afraid I have had to remove the photos as some nasty person has been removing the watermark from my photos and uploading them to the internet. It is illegal to remove the watermark.

 A recommended minimum size of pool/pond is 9 ft x 16 ft with a depth of 4 ft. The pool or pond should have a few shallow places where the capybara can sit and rest while still remaining mostly or partly submerged. If your pool does not have any steps or ledges that would provide this, you should put something like a plastic table in the pool for the capybara to sit on. Make sure it is securely anchored and does not tip over when the capybara climbs onto it.

A large, 8 foot, cattle tank is not sufficient, many people would say . There is no way a capybara can swim properly in something this small. And of course it is not very deep either.

Capybaras are outstanding swimmers and need a pool/pond that is at least 4 feet deep. They love to swim underwater and are very playful, rolling and turning. Capybaras can stay under water for up to 5 minutes.

In the wild capybaras spend much of the afternoon in water. Submerging in water is a way for them to thermoregulate, i.e. cool themselves.

NWN Romeo Swimming

Capybaras are very agile and graceful in water. A cattle tank is not big enough to allow them to express themselves physically and aquatically, as they would in the wild.   It is a wonderful sight watching a capybara swim, and roll, and play with gay abandon.

 

Please see my blog which gives information about the dangers to capybaras of letting capybaras use your swimming pool. I also give information about a recommended filter system to use to clean the water in your swimming pool.  It is recommended that you do not use chlorine.

https://capybaraworld.wordpress.com/2013/07/26/pet-capybara-health-warning-it-might-be-potentially-dangerous-to-let-your-capybara-swim-in-a-chlorinated-swimming-pool-designed-and-intended-for-human-use/

This is a video of Romeo and Tuff’n playing in their swimming pool, you will see how they really make use of, and enjoy, the space available to them:

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Capybara Enclosure Design. Husbandry and Welfare of Capybaras in Zoos and Captive Environments

 

I am afraid I have had to remove the photos as some nasty person has been removing the watermark from my photos and uploading them to the internet. It is illegal to remove the watermark.

 When designing an enclosure for capybaras it is essential to provide them with an environment in which they can display their natural behaviours. The two most important requirements for a capybara enclosure are a large pond/pool and access to grazing.

wn-branfere-july-2012-murmel-tier

This is the perfect enclosure for a capybara: lots of grass and a large pond. Photo by Martin MurmelTier Hees

Animal Welfare is the foundation of what all good zoos do. We can provide good Animal Welfare by taking a behaviour-based husbandry approach to how we manage animals. That means we do not focus on what we are providing for the animals. Rather we focus on what the animal’s behaviour is telling us that the animals’ need. We do this by recognising that all of the behaviours which an animal exhibits are meaningful, and therefore helpful in informing us about what that animal may need.

Behaviour based husbandry incorporates all elements of good animal welfare: good health, psychological well-being, and the expression of natural behaviours. In addition to the design and enrichment of the enclosure, we MUST also ensure positive human animal relationships. The capybara must have choices so that he/she has some control over his life, his environment and his daily routines, as he would in the wild in his natural habitat.

It is imperative that keepers do not try to control capybaras. Rodents, as a species, are particularly intolerant of being controlled. Keepers must understand capybara behaviour. They must be sensitive to a capybara’s mood and what the capybaras’ behaviour is communicating, otherwise the capybara will suffer stress.

In order to understand capybara behaviour the keeper must immerse himself in the lives of the capybaras in his care. He must learn the relationships between the capybaras in the herd. He must be aware that these relationships may change. He must be able to distinguish between different behaviours in order to understand their significance. A good capybara keeper will intuitively understand animal behaviour. He will need to be sensitive and intelligent. He will need to have the patience and interest in capybara behaviour to spend long hours observing capybara behaviour.

Positive human capybara interactions are the foundation of providing good welfare for the capybaras we manage. These capybaras rely on us to provide for all their needs: food, shelter, enrichment, mating opportunities and companionship. If we are unresponsive, negative, unpredictable or aggressive in our interactions with our capybaras we can create significant stress for them.

At all times it is vitally important that we are aware of how what we do may affect our capybaras.

In 2009 Vicky A. Melfi, Zoologist and Animal Welfare Scientist, Identified three primary gaps in our knowledge and approach to zoo animal welfare. Two of these are relevant to capybaras:

One: We tend to focus on indicators of poor welfare and assume that a lack of poor welfare is equivalent to good welfare. However, a lack of poor welfare does not necessarily indicate good welfare.

Two: it is important that we look at an animal’s housing and husbandry from the perspective of what that species needs and not from a human perspective.

Zoos have traditionally built hygienic enclosures that meet human requirements in terms of cleaning and sweeping and housing structures, but which do not provide for the psychological needs of the animals they are designed to house.

In good zoos today these traditional enclosures have been redeveloped or modified as we recognise that animals have very different behavioural priorities to people. Understanding Animal Behaviour is vital in order to provide appropriate housing and husbandry. It is important to remember that the expression of their natural behaviours has evolved over millions of years and conferred evolutionary success and indeed the survival of this species.

The size of the enclosure should be about one acre or half a hectare for a herd of about 15 capybaras. The size required for the enclosure will depend to some extent on the size of the herd. The landscape of the enclosure should reflect the natural habitat of a capybara living in the wild as far as possible.

Capybaras are semiaquatic, and can be very energetic and playful in water, therefore a large pond or pool should be provided. Capybaras are grazing animals, grasses form the staple of their diet, which means they should have access to grass.

 This five year old female capybara escaped from her enclosure where there was no grazing in order to eat grass. Interestingly capybaras often know what food is best for them. The capybaras at one zoo do not like the carrots which are given to them and try to escape in order to eat grass.It is also essential that the keepers who care for the capybaras have a deep interest in and understanding of capybara behaviour and animal welfare. They must spend time observing the capybaras so that they can recognise behaviours and understand the relationships between the individual capybaras in order that they can manage the herd to ensure the best welfare and to avoid aggression. They should observe the condition of the capybaras including their size/weight, the condition of their coat/hair, how much they eat, how they chew (for possible tooth problems) and any signs of abnormal behaviours so if there are any developing health issues these can be treated at an early stage.

Capybaras in captivity may be fed pellets and appropriate vegetables to ensure that their dietary requirements are met. There should be a feeding station for each capybara to ensure that every capybara gets enough to eat. If capybaras in a herd are competing for food this will lead to aggression. Once aggression becomes established in the herd it is extremely difficult to eradicate. For this reason every effort should be made to ensure that feeding does not involve competition between capybaras for food. The keepers may need to sit beside and guard some capybaras at the bottom of the hierarchy if they are not getting enough to eat because other larger and more senior (in the hierarchy) capybaras intimidate them and push them away from food.

In their natural habitat in South America researchers have not found evidence of a female hierarchy. However, in captivity where the capybaras are living in a confined environment and sometimes competing for food or facilities, a strong female hierarchy develops. The keepers will need to be observant and ensure the well-being of capybaras at the bottom of the hierarchy. Male capybaras are hierarchical and can be very aggressive to other males including their own adult male offspring.

If a capybara is so badly injured that he/she has to be taken out of the herd and put in a separate enclosure to recover from the wounds, it will almost certainly be impossible for that capybara to be reintroduced back into the herd. The capybaras most likely to attack an injured capybara are those immediately below the injured capybara in the hierarchy.

Enclosure Enrichment: the purpose of enrichment, both environmental and cognitive, is to ensure the well-being of animals in captivity. Enrichment allows animals to make choices and lead interesting and stimulating lives, and to be able to exhibit their natural behaviours.

The physical enrichment of the enclosure should include:

A large pool or pond. The capybaras should have easy access to this pond or pool. Depending on the number of capybaras the size of the pond/pool should be at least 12 feet/4 m x 24 feet/8 m. Most of this pond should be 4 feet/1.3 m in depth, but some areas should be at shallow depths of 1 and 2 feet, .3 and .6 m, so that the capybara can rest partially submerged in water, and also easily get in and out of the pond/pool. When the weather is hot capybaras go into the water to thermoregulate, i.e. to keep cool. They also seek water as a refuge from danger. In captivity a capybara might be being chased and therefore seek refuge in water. Additionally, if the capybara is injured in some way, perhaps his/her teeth have broken at the root (capybaras have hypsodont teeth which means they grow continually. These broken teeth will grow back in just over two weeks) and the capybara feels vulnerable, he/she will seek refuge in water.

Shelter: the enclosure must provide some shelter from sun, heat and rain. This could be provided by trees and bushes, or by a man-made structure.

Enclosures in Cooler Climates: Capybaras prefer a temperature of at least 24°C or 75°F. If the capybara enclosure is in a climate with cold winters than the capybaras must be provided with a sheltered hut with heating to prevent suffering and frostbite.

Grass: it is essential for capybaras to have access to grazing. Capybaras’ digestive system has evolved over 30 million years for a diet of grasses which are high in fibre but low in calories. In their natural habitat, in South America, capybaras eat grasses, aquatic plants, sedges and chew on the bark of bushes and trees. For the health of capybara teeth it is essential that they have access to coarse materials to chew on in order to control the growth of their teeth. Several capybaras in captivity have died because their diet was based on soft foods which did not ensure the health of their teeth. It is essential for animals in captivity to exhibit their natural behaviours and grazing is one of the most important behaviours for a capybara. Capybaras did not evolve to eat two meals a day; they must be allowed to have access to grazing/appropriate food when they are hungry.

Diet: the capybara diet should be augmented by the provision of appropriate pellets. If there is insufficient grass to provide enough grazing daily than green leaf vegetables such as cabbage, lettuce etc can also be fed. The vegetable should not have a high sugar content. Capybaras should not eat carrots as carrots have too high a level of Vitamin A and this can cause liver damage. Many capybaras in Japan suffer an early death due to liver damage. Capybaras should also not eat fruit because of the high sugar content. A probiotic like Benebac or Bio 3 can be given to treat mild cases of diarrhoea.

Appropriate Vegetation: this should include branches or palm fronds and perhaps leaves which provide soft bedding for the capybaras to lie on when resting or sleeping. Capybaras like to mark their territory by rubbing their anal scent glands over vegetation such as branches and palm fronds. As mentioned above it is essential for the health of capybara teeth that they have access to coarse vegetation, like branches or palm fronds, to chew on. Some capybaras like to chew on stones. These stones must be hard so that they do not disintegrate in the capybaras mouth when chewed, and get swallowed causing injury to their digestive tract.

It is essential that animals in captivity are able to express their natural behaviours. It is also very important that the visiting public should see how animals behave in their natural habitat.

The lives of animals in captivity can be very boring and boredom leads to stress. To avoid boredom and stress the enclosure should provide cognitive and occupational activities to stimulate the minds of the capybaras and encourage physical activity to keep the capybaras healthy.

These enrichment activities can include the appropriate vegetation mentioned above and other natural objects which can be manipulated or played with. Feeding can also be done in a way that provides entertainment for the capybaras. For example, branches of bamboo can be positioned in different parts of the enclosure so that the capybaras have to rise up on their hind legs to eat it or pull it down. Branches of bamboo can be tied to the bushes overhanging the pond/pool so that the capybaras can entertain themselves trying to rise up to eat it. Food pellets can be scattered, or hidden in different areas for the capybaras to find.

The activities described above would also provide cognitive enrichment as the capybaras engage in problem-solving to achieve their food reward.

Sensory and Social Enrichment: capybaras are a highly social and gregarious species. A capybara should never be housed alone, on its own in an enclosure. This would be extremely stressful and would lead to changes in the capybara’s behaviour and personality. Stress levels can be determined by analysing faeces for the presence of stress hormones like cortisol. Extreme stress can lead to changes in the brain structure and an early death.

As capybaras are extremely social and very responsive to tactile stimulation, it is important that the zookeepers responsible for the capybaras pet them and are very friendly. Initially the capybaras may not trust the keeper, so the keeper first has to gain the trust of the capybara in order to get close enough to pet the capybara. To achieve this the keeper could offer food or perhaps a branch of bamboo, and when the capybara comes close to eat the food the keeper can slowly and gently begin to pet the capybara. Capybaras love to be petted; their hair rises, they lie down and roll over and vocalise. Capybara vocalisations include the most beautiful sounds. Positive human animal relationships are vitally important for the well-being of the capybaras living under the care of humans.

If visitors to the zoo will be able to enter the capybara enclosure it is essential that there is an area of the enclosure which is not accessible to these visitors. This is to allow the capybaras to go somewhere private otherwise they may become stressed if they cannot choose whether they wish to be in the company of human visitors or not. Also, ideally, there should be an island in the pond to which the capybaras can go to escape humans.

Mud: capybaras love to roll in mud. It is good for the condition of their skin and can help to exterminate mites or ticks. Mud provides capybaras with enjoyment and relaxation. Rolling in mud is a natural behaviour which capybaras should be able to exhibit in a captive environment.

At all times it is vitally important that we are aware of how what we do may affect our animals.

The basic Animal Welfare protocol is The Five Freedoms:     

Freedom from hunger and thirst: by ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigour.

Freedom from discomfort: by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area.

Freedom from pain, injury or disease: by prevention through rapid diagnosis and treatment.

Freedom to express normal behaviour: by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal’s own kind.

Freedom from fear and distress: by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering.

The Five Welfare Domains: However, The Five Freedoms protocol was developed in 1965 to rectify the suffering of farm animals, i.e. animals used in agriculture. The Five Freedoms protocol simply emphasises what is our basic duty but does not go far enough to ensure the well-being that we would want for animals kept in captivity and in zoos. We need to provide animals with enjoyable and positive experiences. To address this, David Mellor, an Animal Welfare Scientist working in New Zealand, has developed The Five Welfare Domains. The aim of The Five Welfare Domains is to ensure that animals have positive physical and emotional experiences. This is essential for good animal welfare and the well-being of animals in captivity.

Why Capybaras Need Water カピバラが水を必要とする理由 為什麼水豚需要水

I am afraid I have had to remove the photos as some nasty person has been removing the watermark from my photos and uploading them to the internet. It is illegal to remove the watermark.

Capybaras are semiaquatic, with partially webbed paws. They have 3 toes on their hind paws and 4 toes on the front paws.

Capybaras need water to thermoregulate (to keep cool and keep their body temperature down when it is hot) and to escape from predators and other dangers. They also use water to play in, and to defecate and mate in. Capybaras can defecate and mate on dry land as well.

NWN Romeo Swimming

In Colombia during the dry season capybaras spend about 4 hours a day in rivers and ponds thermoregulating to keep from overheating.

Capybaras are not obsessed with water. It is this sort of statement which makes ethologists rail against anthropomorphism.

Capybaras like humans are individuals with different preferences. Some capybaras spend longer in water than others. Some capybaras feel the heat or the cold more than others.

Capybaras are fascinating animals. They are so much more than just cute. However, like heiresses, they often attract the wrong sort of people for the wrong reasons. I find it heartbreaking that many people really are not interested in learning accurate information about capybaras. Capybaras deserve better than that.

カピバラは半水生で、部分的に水かきのある足があります。

カピバラは、体温調節(体温を冷たく保つ)し、捕食者や危険から逃れるために水を必要とします。 彼らはまた、水を使って遊んだり、交尾したり、排便したりします。カピバラは、乾燥した土地でも排便して交尾することができます。

水豚是半水生的,具有部分蹼狀的爪子。

水豚需要水來調節溫度(使體溫保持涼爽),並擺脫掠食者和危險。 他們還使用水玩耍,交配和排便。水豚也可以在旱地上排便和交配。