“Theory of Mind”: Capybara Intelligence

There is a long tradition of humans trying to demean animals, their intelligence and emotions. Nowhere is this more insidious than in the field of ethology/animal behaviour. Fortunately this is slowly changing partly due to more sophisticated research technology and partly due to the enlightened research and books by eminent ethologists like Marc Bekoff, Jonathan Balcombe and Jane Goodall among others.

In his important book “Beyond Words. What Animals Think and Feel“, Carl Safina lambasts those ethologists who deny “Theory of Mind” to most animal species. He writes: “Theory of Mind is probably the most underappreciated (in other animal species), oft denied aspect of nonhuman minds.

Choco looking very happy trough

Choco enjoying the Onsen experience from the safety of the water channel. A behaviour he pioneered and which many of the junior capybaras now copy. (See below)

Theory of Mind has a number of different interpretations but broadly speaking it is the ability of an animal to pick up sensory cues which enable him/her to foresee a situation which is about to develop or which the animal wants to influence, and decide on a course of action that will allow the animal to control the outcome and secure a successful result. This means the animal understands what is about to happen and can work out a strategy in advance which it then puts into practice. Carl Safina writes “Theory of Mind basically means understanding that another can have thoughts and motives that differ from yours, or from another animal”. I have put more comments and explanations from Carl Safina on Theory of Mind at the end of this blog.

The following are some of the many examples of capybara behaviour I have witnessed which demonstrate Theory of Mind.

In August of 2015 Donguri injured her right hind leg. The pain was so great that she could barely walk and she often hopped on three legs. Immediately after her injury she made her way to the “hospital room” where sick capybaras are sometimes housed, and stood in the doorway waiting for a keeper to notice her plight and attend to her injury.

Donguri leg injury waits hospital room 2015

Donguri has injured her leg quite seriously. She hobbles to the “hospital room” where sick capybaras are sometimes treated and waits for the keeper to notice her plight.

This showed Theory of Mind. Donguri had a problem and she devised a solution. She knew that one of the roles the humans played in the lives of the capybaras in her herd was to tend to capybaras who were sick or injured. I assume that she had noticed a successful outcome to the humans’ treatment of some of these capybaras. So in going to the “hospital room” Donguri was asking for medical help, which she received with the arrival of the vet shortly after.

About two days later Donguri positioned herself in the centre of the petting area of the capybara enclosure and hobbled around in circles. I have never seen her do this behaviour before so I believe she was trying to attract attention to the fact that she was still suffering and needed more help or more medication.

You can see this behaviour in my video: “A Sad Capybara Story With a Happy Ending”.

As a corollary to this, when the keepers give a capybara a pill they always try to disguise it, sometimes hiding it wrapped in a bamboo leaf. I do not believe Donguri was fooled by this. On another occasion when she ate too many leaves of a bush that was toxic and vomited, I gave her a food pellet. She took the pellet eagerly but then hastily spat it out as if it was not what she had expected. She would have sensed my concern about her health as I sat beside her while she was obviously suffering. (Capybaras are very sensitive to human emotions.) The evidence suggests that she assumed I was giving her a pill to treat her illness, and she had no interest in a food pellet. She views me as a source of food, pellets and bamboo, and her behaviour when taking the pellet and then spitting it out indicated quite clearly that she had expected something other than a food pellet, and given the fact that she was unwell the obvious conclusion is that she expected treatment, i.e. a pill.

Choco in trough distant view

You can see Choco relaxing in the water channel under the white arrow on the left. In the foreground are the more senior capybaras enjoying the Onsen in the conventional manner

The capybaras at the top of the hierarchy at Nagasaki Bio Park control access to the Onsen bath. Most of the junior capybaras are excluded. The senior capybaras, who are all female, particularly do not want neutered male capybaras in their Onsen. Choco and Doughnut are the only neutered males. Choco came up with a solution to this problem and in doing so pioneered a behaviour which other junior capybaras then imitated. The hot water to the Onsen bath flows through a wooden channel, the width of which is about one foot. One day Choco decided to jump into this water channel where he could spend several hours relaxing in the hot water with his nose under the small pipe from which the water flows. He was thus able to enjoy all the benefits of the Onsen bath without attracting any antagonism from the senior capybaras.

This behaviour demonstrates Theory of Mind in that Choco was able to envisage and invent a new behaviour which would allow him to get what he wanted, i.e. relaxing in hot water, in a place which would not put him in direct conflict with the senior capybaras.

Choco is an exceptionally intelligent and creative capybara who has pioneered several new behaviours to the benefit of other junior capybaras.

He has learned how to open the gate to the capybara enclosure and often goes out to feast on any grass he can find. Some of the other capybaras take advantage of this opportunity to escape.

When he was only one-year-old and much smaller, he found himself near the bottom of the hierarchy. As he was not getting enough to eat, he started going inside the monkey house and eating the monkey’s breakfast. Surprisingly, the capuchin monkeys tolerated him but when other capybaras, Ryoko and Aoba, followed his example the monkeys chased them away. It is interesting to speculate on why the monkeys accepted Choco. There is no doubt he has an easy, gentle charm. He is very calm and fearless. The monkeys enjoy taunting and upsetting those capybaras who react the most and become most upset.

Choco in monkey house 2014

Choco coming out of the monkey house after eating the monkeys’ breakfast

“It is amazing how smart capybaras are and unlike most of Brazil’s fauna. They learn the dynamics of the traffic. They know when to stop and how to cross the streets.” Several of my friends who study Brazilian fauna have told me this. They have witnessed families of capybara trying to cross the busy streets. The capybaras wait until the traffic gives way.

“É impressionante como são inteligentes e ao contrário da maioria dos outros animais da nossa fauna, aprendem a dinâmica do trânsito, e como parar ao atravessar ruas. Já testemunhei algumas famílias tentando atravessar, paradas esperando até alguém dar passagem.”

When Marvin (a human) has to leave Romeo and Tuff’n alone in the house he separates them by putting up a barrier which divides the home in two. One capybara gets to be in the bedroom with access to the back garden and swimming pool while the other capybara has access to the living room and front garden. Tuff’n likes to play fight with Romeo but this escalates and Romeo sometimes ends up wounded. Marvin likes to give Romeo access to the back garden so that he doesn’t see Marvin leave. Romeo is bonded with Marvin and gets upset when Marvin leaves the home. Capybaras are herd animals and prey animals and if a member of the herd disappears it probably means they have been killed by a predator. Tuff’n is bonded with Romeo so as long as Romeo is around Tuff’n is happy, he is not upset if Marvin leaves the home. Tuff’n senses what Marvin is about to do and he knows Marvin will try and lure him into the front area. To avoid this he ensures that he is in the bedroom or back garden before the barrier goes up. Whether he prefers the back garden area or whether he just wants to do the opposite of what Marvin wants him to do rather than being controlled by Marvin, is open to debate. Perhaps, like most rodents, he just wants to be in control of his life rather than be controlled by humans.

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Romeo and Tuff’n want to go to the park. They are waiting here to communicate to Marvin that it is time for them to be taken to the park. They have worked out and adopted this behaviour because they can envisage an activity which they will enjoy and they know that by waiting on this mat they will successfully communicate their wishes to Marvin.

One day Marvin was working in the garage and forgot to give Romeo and Tuff’n their afternoon corn at the usual time. On leaving the garage Marvin noticed Romeo sitting by the gate into the front garden. As Marvin entered the front garden Romeo stood up on his hind legs and put his paws on Marvin’s chest. He then looked Marvin straight in the eye. As he did so Tuff’n came over and barked “Corn, Corn”. Tuff’n usually announces the arrival of corn with a vocalisation that comes across as a realistic rendition of the word “corn”.

Tuff’n likes to play with his cushion in the pool. In order to be able to reach the cushion once he is in the pool he has to drag it to the edge of the pool before he jumps in. He then jumps into the pool, swims over to the cushion, pulls the cushion into the water and plays with it. This behaviour shows how Tuff’n is able to visualise or think through in advance a course of behaviour that will allow him to achieve his aim, i.e. pulling the cushion to the edge of the pool so that he can reach it when he is in the pool.

When Elizabeth or Marvin are injured or unwell Romeo and Tuff’n sense their suffering and come over, often laying their heads on the injured area. If their humans spend the day in bed the capybaras will spend the day lying on the bed showing an understanding of the humans’ suffering and a desire to show sympathy, affection and make them feel better. Capybaras are very sensitive to emotions, both the emotions of other capybaras and to the emotions of humans. They become very upset if humans argue in their presence. They need to be sensitive to the mood and emotional state of the other capybaras in their herd in order to avoid aggression.

Deception, the ability to deceive, is also cited by ethologists as proof of “Theory of Mind”. On one occasion I was visiting Garibaldi Rous. He had been rolling in the mud and knew that he was not allowed to go inside the house when he was covered in mud. So he took a circuitous route around the garden before suddenly veering off to the left and into the house.

In all these examples the capybara knows what is about to happen and has worked out, or invented, a strategy, a course of behaviour which solves his problem and ensures a successful outcome. This is evidence of “Theory of Mind”.

Humans often judge animals by behaviours which are appropriate to the lives of humans but not to the lives of the animals they are testing. Humans would fail miserably in many of the situations in which the different animal species excel.

As Carl Safina writes, most animal species could not go about their daily life without Theory of Mind. “The term “Theory of Mind” was coined in 1978 by researchers testing chimpanzees. With an impressive lack of human insight into what could be an appropriate context or meaningful to a chimp they devised an experiment so artificial” that, as sometimes happens, the academically generated concepts failed to elicit the capabilities that the scientists were trying to investigate. (For the full description of these absurd tests please see page 244 of Carl Safina’s book “Beyond Words. What Animals Think and Feel.” As Carl Sarafina writes “any ecologist who watches free living animals feels humbled by the depth and nuance of how they negotiate the world” and how easily they evade human observation as they go about their daily lives keeping themselves and their babies alive. Many animals, like capybaras, are highly skilled in reading body language and use other senses, including a sense of smell, to detect and authenticate a situation.

Carl Safina writes “Rather than “testing” animals in contraptions and setups where they cannot be who they are, we might simply define the concept we are interested in, then watch the animals in situations appropriate to their lives. Real life behaviours and decisions cannot always be elicited under experimental lab conditions. Do animals show an understanding that others hold different thoughts and agendas and can even be fooled? Yes. It is happening all around us. But you have to have your eyes open. Lab psychologists and philosophers of behaviour often don’t seem to know about how perceptions function in the real world. I wish they would go outside and watch.”

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Juanita’s Story. A Baby Capybara Rescued from Her Mother’s Womb 母親の子宮から救助された

Juanita’s Story: A Baby Capybara Who Was Rescued from Her Mother’s Womb, and Survived Against All Odds, After Hunters Killed Her Mother. フアニタの話。 母親の子宮から救出されたベビーカピバラ。 ハンターズは母親を殺した。 驚くほど赤ちゃんは生き残った。

WN on the bed to

Juanita on the Bed Looking Dreamy

Gunshots rang out in the cold night air of the jungle followed by a sickening thud. Juan’s heart sank. He had seen three capybaras running for their lives through the undergrowth… when he reached her still warm body his heart sank further. One of the capybaras was a heavily pregnant female with three babies in her womb. Two of the babies had been injured by the hunter’s bullets but Juan was able to rescue the third pup.

 This was little Juanita’s introduction to the world of humans.

WN baby in daddy's arms telephone

Juan Holding Baby Juanita

Juanita’s story begins in Esquina in the province of Corrientes in Argentina, about eight hours drive from the capital Buenos Aires. It is a beautiful area but there is also much poverty and ignorance. Rivers are polluted with garbage even though many people rely on fishing for their sustenance. There is indiscriminate killing of wild animals even when this is illegal as is the case with hunting capybaras. Hunters frequently use packs of dogs which are deliberately underfed. There is often a total disregard for the welfare of animals.

As a boy, Juan often spent vacations with his family in Esquina, and the family now own a home there. Over the years Juan made many friends in the area some of whom go hunting. They repeatedly asked Juan to join them when they go hunting for wild boar. As an animal lover Juan has no desire to kill animals.

WN very cute One day old

Juanita, Just One Day Old

One night in Esquina Juan and Victoria very reluctantly join the group on a hunt for wild boar. On the far side of the lake Juan notices a large capybara watching them. Then to his horror one of the group begins to take aim. Juan tries to stop him but three shots ring out before he can intervene. Seconds earlier there had been three capybaras, now two are dead. Juan is very angry and very upset.

Juan’s heart sinks further when he discovers that one of the dead capybaras is heavily pregnant. The hunters have already begun to cut open the pregnant capybara as Juan approaches. Inside there are three baby capybaras. Two have been injured by the hunter’s bullets but Juan thinks the third pup might have a chance. Juan rescues her and ties her umbilical cord. Then he gently massages her until she begins to breathe. All this time Victoria has been sitting in the Jeep, her head bent down and covered in coats, trying to block out the tragedy that is unfolding for this capybara family in the cold night air of the jungle. Juan puts this tiny, vulnerable bundle of life inside his jacket and walks over to Victoria and tells her to keep the baby warm. Carpincha, the name they initially give her (carpincha is the Argentinian name for a female capybara) snuggles in Victoria’s warm lap. It is five in the morning now and the baby capybara has had nothing to eat. They find a pharmacy and buy some milk and baby formula. As soon as they get back to their cottage Victoria goes on the Internet desperate to find information on how to feed and look after a capybara. She can find no information and breaks down in tears, certain that little Carpincha is going to die.

WN 5 hours after rescue eyes closed

Juanita Five Hours After She is Rescued From Her Mother’s Womb

It starts to rain and Juan decides to return to Buenos Aries immediately as there will be fewer police checks when it is raining and they need to get Carpincha to a vet.

Victoria wraps Carpincha in a blanket and hides her in her rucksack at her feet. She is so afraid the police will stop them and discover the little capybara and take her away. After some time Victoria notices that Carpincha has not moved. Victoria panics and tells Juan to stop the car. Carefully they lift the small bundle out of the rucksack, their hearts beating, fearing the worst. To their immense relief Carpincha is still breathing. The heat and suffocation have caused her to pass out.

In the fresh air Carpincha begins to revive. Victoria gives her some milk and they continue their journey with the baby capybara sitting on Victoria’s lap. Victoria is increasingly fearful and sad that this little capybara entrusted into their care will not survive. This little bundle of life, so fragile, vulnerable and trusting has completely captured her heart.

WN sleeping beautiful face

Juanita Sleeping

They decide to call her Juanita, after Juan who rescued her and saved her life.

Early the next day Victoria takes little Juanita to the neighbourhood vet, but he knows nothing about capybaras. With mounting concern Victoria calls the zoo and speaks to their vet. Everything they have been doing is wrong. Capybaras cannot digest cow’s milk. Capybaras are lactose intolerant which means they cannot drink the milk of most other mammals.

On day four Juanita has diarrhoea which gets worse as the hours pass. Juanita becomes weaker. Victoria is becoming desperate. She phones an equine vet and he gives her the phone number of the leading exotic animal vet in the country, Dr Fernando Pedrosa. Victoria immediately phones him and makes an appointment to see him as soon as possible that day. She also finally gets the correct information on what to feed a capybara.

WN Victoria kisses J

Victoria Kisses Juanita

Dr Pedrosa tells her that Juanita has no chance of surviving. She has not had colestrum, found in a mother’s milk during the first five days of lactation, and considered essential to provide the antibodies the little capybara will need to fight off infections. Dr Pedrosa also says that the circumstances of her birth were so stressful that this will also undermine her chances of survival. On that day Juanita weighs 1200 grams.

The vet also tells Victoria to feed the little capybara lots of grass and green vegetables to overcome the diarrhoea.

Victoria leaves Dr Pedrosa’s office with a heavy heart, fighting back the tears.

The next few months are extremely stressful for Victoria and Juan, wondering if their little capybara will survive. Some days Juanita refuses to eat. However she likes to suck on clothes, so Victoria covers the nipple of Juanita’s milk bottle with gauze and Juanita begins to suckle.

WN J with Victoria

Juanita with Victoria

Against The Odds Juanita Has Survived. This Is Her Life Today:

Now two and a half years on Juanita is a thriving female capybara. Victoria and Juan through their devotion and commitment have kept Juanita alive against all odds.  She has stolen the heart of everyone who meets her. Victoria and Juan have moved house in order to provide her with the large, grass filled garden and swimming pool she needs.

WN one very muddy

Capybaras Love Mud and Mud is Very Good for Their Skin

When Victoria discovered that she was five weeks pregnant Juanita already knew this and had begun to act like a baby again, calling her with shrill whistles at 3 AM in the morning like she used to do when she was a baby and sucking on Victoria’s fingers for a long, long time until Victoria’s fingers began to hurt. I believe that Juanita could smell the hormonal changes that Victoria was experiencing which are probably similar to those of other mammals including capybaras. Juanita was two and one half years old at the time and it is interesting to speculate on her behaviour. Was she trying to tell Victoria that they didn’t need another baby, that she Juanita could be their baby again.

WN grazing in her large garden                               WN swimming in her large pool

Juan and Victoria moved house in order to give Juanita a large swimming pool and a huge grassy garden. Capybaras are semiaquatic. Their feet are partially webbed. Capybaras love to swim and play in water. They also mate and defecate in water. When the weather is very hot they go into water to thermoregulate, i.e. to make sure they do not get to It is essential that capybaras have access to grazing when ever they want. Grass is the most important constituent in their diet. In the wild capybaras eat grass, aquatic plants, and sage

Like all capybaras Juanita is very territorial and likes to mark her territory, which includes marking wallets, jackets and everything belonging to visitors. She is very frightened of the sound of barking dogs; do they evoke a memory of that fateful day when hunters with a pack of dogs murdered her mother?

JWM helping out in the kitchen

Juanita Likes To Take Charge in the Kitchen

Capybaras are very intelligent and emotionally they are very sensitive and sophisticated. Naturally they would like to control you if they can. I know from research that rats do not like to be controlled or to have their environment controlled. They want to be in control of their lives and I am sure it is the same with capybaras.

Juanita respects Victoria more when Victoria is firm with her and shows that she, Victoria, is higher in the hierarchy.

J with baby boxer dog WN

Juanita Loves Baby the Boxer

Juanita’s family now includes a hen and a rooster, who terrified her to begin with but who have now become firm friends. Victoria’s sister gave her a poodle. At first Juanita hated that poodle, a rival for the love of the humans she has bonded with. Several times Juanita tried to bite the poodle but these days she and the poodle have settled into a love/hate relationship. Juanita loves the family’s boxer dog, Baby and often sleeps nestled between Baby’s paws.

WN sitting on daddy's lap

Juanita, Now Two and a Half Years Old

Juanita likes to sleep with her head resting on Juan. If Juan is out of the house she likes to sleep curled up on Juan’s clothes. His smell seems to reassure her and give her comfort; the man who saved her life.

How to Pet a Capybara. Capybara Erogenous Zones: The Parts of the Body Where Capybaras Love to Be Petted. カピバラをマッサージする方法 Как домашнее животное водосвинку

wn-how-to-pet-blog

 

Capybaras are the most responsive animals I have ever encountered. They love to be petted and their response is overwhelming. Their hair rises (pilo erection), they start to sing (capybaras make the most beautiful sounds and vocalisations) and they roll over on their backs with a look of complete ecstasy on their faces.

These are the places on their bodies which are most responsive to petting:

Capybaras love to be petted near their cloaca (anal pocket). Capybaras have the cleanest bottoms as their anus and reproductive organs are hidden inside their cloaca and when they defecate their faeces is expelled through their anal tube so their bottoms are completely clean. Also since they spend a lot of time in water they are very clean animals. I personally think they are much cleaner than humans.

The soles of their feet are very sensitive, the hind feet slightly more so than their front feet. They love to have the soft pad behind the toes and the toes rubbed. One capybara I know goes into a trance when you rub the soft pad behind his toes.

The muscles of their buttocks, on either side of the cloaca are very responsive to massage.

Just behind where their forelegs meet their bodies is another area they love having rubbed. One capybara I know goes into a trancelike state of ecstasy when this area is rubbed. Just in front of where their hind legs meet their bodies they love having rubbed as well.

When you pet a capybara you should rub its skin pushing the hair in the opposite direction to the way their hair grows, and in the opposite direction to the way you would pet a cat or dog. Some capybaras like to be petted very vigourously. Some capybaras may even like you to use your fingernails as if you were scratching him/her. Other capybaras hate to be petted vigourously. Some capybaras respond to even the lightest touch as you gently disturb the hair on their backs or other parts of the body. Once a capybara gets to know you and enjoys the way you pet him/her, he/she may react to your presence even before you touch him/her in anticipation of the forthcoming pleasure. One friend wriggles her fingers in a petting motion to indicate to the two capybaras she lives with that she is about to pet them, and their hair rises in blissful anticipation.

In the wild capybaras often go into ecstasy with their hair raised when birds “groom them” looking for ticks. The touch of the bird’s feet and beak create a very pleasurable sensation for the capybara. Capybaras in captivity often respond in this way to the touch of other animals brushing against their bodies or nuzzling and nibbling them. Pet capybaras often respond in this way to pet dogs, or other pet animals.

Some capybaras love to be rubbed under their chins. This is particularly true of baby capybaras who adore being rubbed under the chin. Capybaras nuzzle each other under their chins and even the gentlest touch from another capybara will make a capybara’s hair rise – a blissful experience for the capybara.

Some capybaras adore having their ears rubbed, other capybaras hate this. There are many different ways to rub a capybara’s ears. You can pass the flat of your hand over the ear from front to back, you can gently rub different areas of the ear and where it attaches to the head with your thumb and forefinger.

There is a place on the sides of a capybara’s nose a bit further back than its mouth which is particularly sensitive, especially with baby capybaras. Rubbing or massaging this area may send a capybara into a trancelike state.

Capybaras love to be rubbed on their chests and on their tummies/stomachs/bellies. One capybara I know begins to sing loudly when rubbed on the lower part of his tummy.

Once a capybara is rolling on his back in a state of ecstasy almost anything you gently do will create a response. I know one baby capybara who likes to be gently prodded with a fork. This probably mimics the feeling a capybara in the wild would have when a bird grooms him eating any ticks with his sharp beak. Capybaras love being groomed in the wild by birds.

Capybaras love the gentle touch of other animals and will roll over in ecstasy very often if another animal gently rubs against him. I know one baby capybara who, in the midst of jostling and fighting with his siblings for a bite of bamboo, will go into a trancelike state with his head raised, his nose pointing to the sky, if one of his brothers or sisters accidentally rubs him under the chin while trying to get the bamboo. This baby capybara will lose all interest in eating and hold his head high waiting for the experience to be repeated.

Some capybaras, particularly baby capybaras, will nuzzle another capybara and rub their chins on the other capybara’s back in the hopes of the second capybara nuzzling him/her in return.

I sometimes use a leash/lead and gently run it over the hair starting near the capybara’s bottom, then moving on to the feet and other favourite places. Some capybaras adore to be petted in this way. I have also found that by very gently rubbing my foot under a capybara who is standing, starting in front of the hind legs and moving up its tummy to the front legs, and then gently rubbing my foot against his/her bottom capybaras go into a state of absolute bliss. If I am behind a standing capybara and gently rub between his/her hind legs, capybaras adore this. One capybara I know went into a trancelike state when I gently rubbed her under the chin with my foot.

It helps if you can judge the mood of a capybara before you start petting. If a capybara is sleepy he/she is unlikely to be responsive.

Every capybara is an individual with different preferences so by watching a capybara’s responses you can work out whether he or she is enjoying what you are doing. The rise and fall of their hair will indicate the degree of pleasure you are giving the capybara. You will need to keep moving between the different areas to create the greatest response. If you just keep rubbing one place the response begins to die down.

 

 

Tags:   wn-how-to-pet-blogКак домашнее животное водосвинку, How To Pet A Capybara, Nagasaki Bio Park, 長崎バイオパーク,  Capybara, Adorable, Cute, かわいい、Animal, カピバラ、 Rodent, かわいい, Giant Hamster, カピバラ、Capy, 靖,rat, carpincho, очаровательны милые водосвинка,べる,   同情、капибара, 水, 豚 水豚, capivara, chiguire, ronsoco, ゆず,  Pouffy,、長崎バイオパーク、professional quality HD, プロフェッショナル品質のHD、stereo, カピバラをマッサージする方法, erogenous, zones, Momiji, How to pet a capybara,

 

 

 

If You Want a Capybara to Sit in Your Lap Go to Nagasaki Bio Park. あなたは好きですか?愛情カピバラ?あなたの上に座って?長崎バイオパークに行きます

Having a capybara come over to you and sit affectionately in your lap is the most wonderful experience. Many of the capybaras at Nagasaki Bio Park will sit on the laps of visitors these days.

Choco on Marc's lap

Choco

 

This is the video: If You Want a Capybara To Sit in Your Lap Go to Nagasaki Bio Park カピバラの愛情あなたの上に座って

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fdNE6omkqvM

                                                                                         

Choco in particular loves sitting on visitors’ laps. One of the reasons for this is protection. The senior capybaras at Nagasaki Bio Park do not like Choco, particularly Maple and Hinase. Maple will chase him right across the enclosure but since Choco can out run Maple, Choco is never in danger of being attacked unless he is cornered. The reason the senior capybaras don’t like Choco is partly because he is a neutered male and he doesn’t smell right because of his neutering. The female capybaras adore full-blooded males!

 

 

30% Choco sleeping on Lady's lap

Choco sleeping on a lady’s lap. Choco spent over an hour on her lap and she wasn’t going to leave the capybara enclosure while Choco wanted to sit on her lap. Her husband looked increasingly bored!

 

Also Choco is low in the hierarchy but he wants everything the senior capybaras have and because he is quite fearless he is not submissive. If Choco wants something he goes for it.  He wants to enjoy the Onsen even when the senior capybaras are there whereas most of the junior capybaras wait until the senior capybaras have left or go into the Onsen before they arrive. To avoid being attacked Choco has taken to jumping up into the trough through which the water flows to the Onsen. This allows him to enjoy the benefits of the Onsen without usually attracting the attention of Hinase and Maple.

 

40% WN Choco in trough whole Onsen view

You can see Choco in the water trough (below the arrow on the left of the photo) above the main Onsen Bath. Maple is sprawled out under the 2 showers. 4 other capybaras are enjoying the Onsen Bath

 

25% Choco in trough

Choco in Water Channel Trough

 

Ryoko came and sat on Marc’s lap, not looking for food, but just to make friends. I believe it was because she had seen us there almost every day for 6 months, which is very unusual for visitors! She decided it might be useful to have us as friends. She is a very clever capybara and the only young capybara who has been completely accepted by the senior capybaras. I would love to know why; what it is about her behaviour and personality that has made her accepted by these senior capybaras.

 

30% 2 Ryoko sitting on Marc's lap

Ryoko

 

Aoba will sit on visitors’ laps but she is usually hoping to be fed.

30% WN JPEG Aoba and Masakazu SnapShot(5)

Aoba

 

Gin jumped into my lap the first day we visited the Bio Park.  In cold weather Hinase will sometimes sit on visitors’ laps for the extra warmth.

 

40% Choco on Lady's lap

Choco

 

Maple likes humans. She knows how to attract people and everyone seems to feed her even though she doesn’t need any extra food, being the chubbiest capybara I have ever seen. She will jump up beside you and depending on her mood she will wait very patiently to be fed or petted, or if she is hungry she will nibble you until you feed her.

 

22% superior looking Choco on Lady's lap

Choco Looking Very Pleased with Himself

The Sounds Capybaras Make. Capybara’s 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

 

Macaroni

Macaroni

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”.

Capybaras are very gregarious and often vocalize.

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 of en masse to visit Toku, the male capybara. This procession starts when a very high ranking female capybara, usually 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. They also deposit faeces and urine at the entrance to Toku’s enclosure. 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.

Capybaras also communicate in the ultrasonic and infrasonic sound ranges inaudible to human ears. If you are next to a capybara when it makes an infrasonic call you will feel its 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 capybara I have met. Some days he sings all day, making his ‘happy sound’ (click call) as he wanders round the house, or eats or even when he poohs! He 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 to let Romeo know where he is, 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 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 it 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 pampering area. Then the chorus starts as the capys 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 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 capybara vocalisation is a sign of frustration. Donguri has made this call several times when she wanted to visit the male capybara, Toku, but he is in a separate enclosure and she cannot be with him. 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. She 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. She also got very upset when a film crew entered Momiji’s enclosure and Momiji became very stressed. Donguri made the same call when she hurried over to Toku’s enclosure. She had been rubbing her morillo and marking and urinating in Toku’s presence so she may be coming into oestrus.

This is a very interesting call, not frequently made.  I have never seen reference to it in research papers on capybara vocalisations.

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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-5akpIqDJo&spfreload=10

 

7. The Bark: This is the sound a capybara makes when he or she barks. Capybaras bark when they want to protest. 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. In the wild a male capybara will bark to warn another male capybara to keep off its 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 calls. 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. I will be uploading a video before too long, but it is fantastic, a great privilege, to be in his presence when he is making these calls.

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. The call 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. He seems just as popular with the females.

Goemon’s mother was Aki, Donguri’s aggressive sister who was number 1 in the female Bio Park hierarchy in 2012 when I first visited, and his father was Yasushi. Zabon, who still lives with the herd at the Biopark, is his sister. 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, also used to make a similar, but less frantic, call at about the same time each afternoon when he was a-year-old. Syu was 10 months younger than Goemon.

It sounds as if Goemon is communicating with another capybara. Not Toku, but possibly Nina or Io, both males who were born at Nagasaki Bio Park and live alone in separate enclosures. Nina is in the Wood of Squirrel Monkeys, but nobody ever sees him.

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. 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.

9. Tooth Chattering 歯のチャタリング
Tooth chattering is only used in an aggressive context, such as fights, for example 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 capybaras 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.
You can see and hear “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 at the Bio Park attack her. I was told that she doesn’t defend herself which is why these capybaras pick on her.

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.

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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 fell into four categories based on the behavioural context in which they are emitted: Contact calls, Alarm calls, Distress calls and Agonistic ccalls (i.e. agonistic means unfriendly encounters).


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.

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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.

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The click calls are 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.

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There are differences in the calls made based on age and social group. The whistle call was emitted mostly by juveniles, who also did not emit the bark call. The agonistic (i.e. unfriendly) tooth chattering was only 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 its 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.

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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.

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Click, 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, in this case, me; I could hear the sound getting louder and louder as the capybara approached and then snuggled down beside me. I would therefore describe this click call as an indicator of pleasure or enjoyment.

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The click call, sometimes sounding very slightly different, 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. This call is not used by juveniles. 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.

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(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.)

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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.

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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, 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”.

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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 breeding males 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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Choco, The Adventurous Capybara チョコ、長崎バイオパークでの偏心カピバラ

Choco is a great character. He is highly intelligent and has worked out where and how to steal the extra food he needs. He didn’t like being at the bottom of the hierarchy and often feeling hungry so he has come up with a number of strategies to ensure he gets plenty to eat. He frequently climbs up on his hind legs and nibbles the bamboo on sale to the visitors. On other occasions he sneaks off to the bamboo store, pushes open the cover with his nose and helps himself. Sometimes he even sits on top of the bamboo food store, if it is empty, and waits for it to be refilled! However, despite these antics the keepers adore him. He is such a sweet, gentle and friendly capybara. As a result of his raids Choco is noticeably larger than his brother Doughnut.

Choco, of Monkey House fame, stealing bamboo while the keeper's back is turned. I'm getting very fond of Choco, he is so delightfully naughty

Choco, of Monkey House fame, stealing bamboo while the keeper’s back is turned. I’m getting very fond of Choco, he is so delightfully naughty

Toku, Choco’s father, was highly intelligent and enterprising. He worked out how to open the gate from his enclosure and gain access to the females. Sadly, my husband informed the keeper before Toku had a chance to enjoy himself. Choco seems to have inherited his father’s intelligence.

Choco Loves Being Petted

Choco Loves Being Petted

Here is a video of Choco attempting to steal some bamboo: Clever Capybara Is Almost Successful賢いカピバラ。ほぼ成功した

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Description of video: He is an exceptionally clever and thoughtful capybara. In this video he is working out how to steal some bamboo. He very frequently steals bamboo. However, because he is so lovable he never gets into trouble. He is a favourite of some of the keepers.

 

Choco, along with Doughnut and Macaroni, are at the bottom of the hierarchy and frequently don’t get enough to eat at breakfast time. On some occasions they get no breakfast at all. Choco has solved this problem by going into the monkey house, on Monkey Island and eating the monkey’s food. Interestingly, the capuchin monkeys tolerate this and seem to like Choco. I was told the monkeys accepted Choco from the very beginning when he started entering the monkey house. Do the monkeys regard Choco as a friend and neighbour? Maybe the Capuchins like him.

Choco Comes Out Of the Monkey House チョコは猿の家から出てくる

Choco Comes Out Of the Monkey House チョコは猿の家から出てくる

 

Doughnut is Choco’s brother and Macaroni is the same age. Macaroni’s mother, Ayu, failed to produce any milk, so Macaroni was put in with Choco and Doughnut and reared by their mother Momiji. In the wild capybaras go in for Alloparenting; i.e. every capybara mother will allow any baby to suckle. So it was quite natural for Momiji to accept Macaroni.

Choco Blissfully Lazing on Top of The Bamboo Store

Choco Blissfully Lazing on Top of The Bamboo Store

Occasionally the monkeys watch Choco as he grazes on their island but they never attack him, whereas they frequently harass some of the other capybaras. They seem particularly to enjoy harassing the capybaras who get most upset by their harassment. It seems as if the more upset the capybara becomes the greater the enjoyment for the Capuchins. If the capybara doesn’t react to their harassment it is as if the Capuchins feel it is not worth their effort to harass.

Choco's Nose Poking Out Of the Monkey House

Choco’s Nose Poking Out Of the Monkey House

Very occasionally Choco makes a hasty exit from the monkey house presumably pushed out by the monkeys.

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Capuchin monkeys are the New World equivalent of chimpanzees, i.e. they are highly intelligent.

Choco

Choco, resting on Monkey Island

On several occasions baby Aoba and Ryoku, one of Hinase’s four babies, sit on the steps leading up to the monkey house, poking their noses through the small entrance door, looking longingly at the monkey’s food. They sit for a very long time before plucking up the courage to go in. They are immediately chased away by the monkeys, which never happens to Choco.

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Choco and Doughnut both spend most of the day on Monkey Island and don’t bother to come over for watermelon as they know they will just be chased away by the other capybaras and attacked.

Goro, The Largest of the Capuchin Monkeys, Checks up on Choco in the Monkey House

Goro, The Largest of the Capuchin Monkeys, Checks up on Choco in the Monkey House

Choco often shelters from the rain in the monkey house, staying there for more than an hour. Sometimes he takes a nap in the cool of the monkey house during the heat of the day in August. On one occasion when he came out after his nap, several of the monkeys went inside as if they had been waiting for him to come out, or perhaps they were looking to see how much of their food he had eaten. The largest male, Goro, looked in several times while Choco was inside, and he was the first to go in when Choco came out. You could see Choco sleeping inside the monkey house with his cute little pink nose and paws poking towards the exit.

Choco Gazing Soulfully from the Monkey House

Choco Gazing Soulfully from the Monkey House

Choco often sits on one of the benches by the visitor entrance in the main enclosure. This attracts the attention of visitors when they enter the petting enclosure and ensures he gets petted and fed. On one occasion Choco, while being petted and in a state of absolute bliss, rolled over and fell off the bench!

Choco Sitting on Top of the Bamboo Store, Waiting Patiently For It To Be Refilled

Choco Sitting on Top of the Bamboo Store, Waiting Patiently For It To Be Refilled

Choco loves rolling in the mud when it rains. As he rolls in the mud he sometimes accidentally rolls right over. Most capybaras panic if they do a 360° roll; they lose their bearings and feel vulnerable. Fearless Choco does not seem bothered. His movements as he rolls in the mud are quite unlike any other capybara, he is so graceful and balletic. As though he was a trained dancer. He stretches, and curls, and points his toes, and holds his poses and uses his paws like a Kathakali dancer (a dance form from Kerala , in India). Capybaras love rolling in the mud and it is very good for their skin.

Choco Loves Rolling in the Mud

Choco Loves Rolling in the Mud

One September morning Ayu gives Choco a nasty bite on his cheek. The wound takes some time to heal as every time Choco squeezes into the monkey house he scrapes the scab off.

Choco You Should Have Been a Ballet Dancer

Choco You Should Have Been a Ballet Dancer

Here is another video of Choco: Capybara In the Monkey House Stealing the Monkey’s Food 猿の食べ物を盗むモンキーハウスにはカピバラ

Description of video: Choco is at the bottom of the hierarchy which means he often doesn’t get enough to eat and gets attacked and chased away by most of the other capybaras at feeding times. However Choco is very intelligent. He now spends most of the day on Monkey Island grazing and eating the monkey’s food. He goes into the monkey house several times every day to steal the monkey’s food or shelter from the rain and have a nap. Interestingly the capuchin monkeys never harass him even though he is stealing their food and they sometimes harass some of the other capybaras especially Momiji and the young ones. They seem to have completely accepted him, perhaps they like him. Choco is now noticeably larger than his twin brother Doughnut who has not taken up residence on Monkey Island and remains at the bottom of the hierarchy at feeding time. The cut on Choco’s cheek was caused by another capybara, Ayu, not by the monkeys. Once or twice Choco comes out of the monkey house in a hurry as if one of the monkeys had encouraged his exit.


One morning the steps into the monkey house are taken away. Choco has been growing chunkier and chunkier but despite this he persists in squeezing through the small entrance into the monkey house. It is becoming obvious that one day he will get stuck.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=erQ2wFPZDyU&list=UU6vvD9LkAvhQzItm1kCtCfg

Choco chewing on a stone. Most if not all the capybaras at the Bio Park chew on stones to keep their teeth healthy.

Choco chewing on a stone. Most if not all the capybaras at the Bio Park chew on stones to keep their teeth healthy.

Choco sits in front of the monkey house thinking “Where are my steps?”
After the monkey house steps are taken away Choco frequently goes and sits in front of the opening looking slightly lost and thoughtful. Wondering what has happened to his steps. He gets up on his hind legs and pushes his head inside the monkey house to find something to eat. On one occasion Goro, the largest of the capuchin monkeys, comes along and swipes his bottom.

Here is another video of Choco: Cutest Capybara You Should Have Been A Ballet Dancerかわいいカピバラあなたはバレエダンサーれている必要があります http://youtu.be/iGzeNaPN2oE

Description of video:  Choco moves so gracefully. I’ve never seen a capybara with such graceful paw movements, or the way he moves his body. He reminds me of a Kathakali dancer (a dance form from Kerala , in India). Choco is so patient trying to get a few bamboo leaves to eat. You can see how frustrated he is getting.

 

Choco Napping on the Food Trough

Choco Napping on a Food Trough

Choco used to chase the female capybaras before he was neutered, Doughnut much less so and Macaroni not at all. After the three of them were neutered they were kept in a separate enclosure until the stitches were removed, after about one week. This was to ensure they didn’t go into the water.

In this video, Choco amazes the visitors by opening the entrance gate and going out to greet them.

Choco’s father is Toku, his mother is Momiji. Donguri is his grandmother. He was born in July 2014.

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“Capyboppy” by Bill Peet. How many people who say they love this book have actually read it? カピバラ「capyboppy」の物語

Capyboppy

Capyboppy. Photo by Bill Peet

 

Bill Peet, aged (I’m guessing) about 17, persuades his parents to let him have a Capybara as a pet. Capyboppy arrives, and immediately settles in, acting for all the world as if he owns the place…easily the most important member of the family. He chews everything and terrorises the cats, but his captivating charms ensure he wins the hearts of the family. Bill’s mother is particularly captivated, she pampers him with showers in the morning and in the evening he sits on her lap and watches TV with the family. At weekends he plays with Bill’s friends in the swimming pool, the centre of attention.

 

Capyboppy Hates Being Banished to This Shed at Night. No Capybara Should Ever Sleep Alone at Night. In the wild they would be surrounded by their herd.

Capyboppy Hates Being Banished to This Shed at Night. No Capybara Should Ever Sleep Alone at Night. In the wild they would be surrounded by their herd.  Drawing by Bill Peet.

 

The only part of his daily ritual he doesn’t like is when he is dispatched on his own to the garage to spend the night alone. Capybaras are exceptionally social animals, and a capy in the wild would never sleep alone.

 

Capyboppy on Bill's Mother's Lap, Looking So Happy, Loving the Attention.   Drawing by Bill Peet

Capyboppy on Bill’s Mother’s Lap, Looking So Happy, Loving the Attention. Drawing by Bill Peet

 

When summer comes Bill goes away with some friends. The parents, finding that a wild animal can make a slightly unruly pet when its closest friend abandons it, decide to make an enclosure for Capyboppy in the garden where he can spend the summer. Banished from the house, and the socialising he needs, he becomes depressed.

 

"These Plants Are Tasty"  Drawing by Bill Peet

“These Plants Are Tasty” Drawing by Bill Peet

 

One day a young boy, a friend of the family, comes over to visit and goes out to feed Capyboppy some grass. In his confused and depressed state Capyboppy bites him. Bill’s younger brother gives Capyboppy a ferocious kick which sends him to the bottom of the swimming pool where he stays a considerable time. Eventually he surfaces and crawls to a patch of grass where he remains motionless.

The family ignore him despite the fact that he has suffered a serious wound as a result of the kick. No effort is made to check up on him or to take him to a vet, even when he has not moved at all for hours. Two days later the family belatedly wonder if he is still alive!

Although the boy who was bitten does not in any way hold Capyboppy responsible, the family decide they can no longer keep him and he is sent to a zoo. Despite the obvious signs that Capyboppy is being bullied by the hippos who share his enclosure, the family leave him there. The book ends at this point. Capyboppy is eventually attacked and killed by a guanaco. This all takes place in the 1960s.

 

Capyboppy Enjoying His Shower

Capyboppy Enjoying His Shower. Drawing by Bill Peet

 

Bill Peet went on to do artwork for Disney, and his talent as an artist can be seen in the many excellent drawings featuring Capyboppy, which completely capture his engaging personality and his exceptionally expressive capybara face.

 

Capyboppy enters his new home. The cats are terrified! Capyboppy completely ignores them.

Capyboppy enters his new home. The cats are terrified! Capyboppy completely ignores them. Drawing by Bill Peet

 

I enjoyed the first half of the book, but overall I found it deeply depressing and I am stunned that so many people claim to like it and recommend it for children.   Perhaps they only remember the first part of the book, the happy times for Capyboppy.    Otherwise they cannot possibly be true animal lovers.

 

Capyboppy loves swimming with Bill's friends. He is the centre of attention.

Capyboppy loves swimming with Bill’s friends. He is the centre of attention. Drawing by Bill Peet

 

The moral of the story: if you are going to have a pet and most especially if you are hoping to turn a wild animal into a house pet, do your homework. Make sure you understand its needs and be certain you will still find it enchanting when it grows out of its small, cute baby phase. Most of all, are you the sort of person who will act responsibly and always put your pet’s needs first, before your own needs and desires.

The Peets appear to have given little thought to Capyboppy’s emotional well being as he grew older and larger; ultimately abandoning him to his fate at the zoo in LA despite the warning signs that the hippos with whom he shared the enclosure would never provide him with the companionship he desperately needed.

 

"This Handbag Is Tasty"

“This Handbag Is Tasty”. Drawing by Bill Peet

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Capybaras, Beware of Toxic Plants, Chemicals and Poisonous Animals like Scorpions and Snakes. Humans, Remove These from Your Land, Garden and Yard. カピバラに対して毒性である植物。有毒化学物質。危険な動物 – ヘビ、クモ、サソリ

Would You Want To Be Responsible for the Death of This Capybara?

Would You Want To Be Responsible for the Death of This Capybara?

 

Many plants, bushes and trees are toxic to animals. There is little information available about which poisonous plants are specifically toxic to capybaras. Some people recommend that any plant that is toxic to horses or sheep may be toxic to capybaras, as they have a similar digestive system.  Cows and goats can tolerate some toxins, like mouldy hay which you should never feed to a capybara, horse etc.  The limitation of this information with regard to horses is the difference in body size between horses and capybaras. Capybaras are much smaller than horses and therefore may be more susceptible to any toxins in the plants they eat. I.E., a capybara would be in danger after eating a smaller quantity of a toxic plant than a much larger horse would be.

A common misconception is that animals will instinctively know which plants are safe to eat. In the wild animals will usually learn from older animals in the herd which plants are safe to forage on. Once you take an animal out of its natural environment it becomes your responsibility to ensure every aspect of its safety, including what food it consumes, whether there are dangerous snakes, spiders or scorpions in the area, and that it cannot access lethal chemicals like antifreeze.

Rodents are addicted to sugar and sweet foods. 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, including bird seed.

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

Two plants which are known to be lethal to capybaras are Azaleas and the Chinaberry tree (also known as the Bead tree, Pride of India, Texas Umbrella tree, Melia Azedarach, White Cedar, Paradise tree, China Ball tree, Persian Lilac). All parts of the Chinaberry tree are considered toxic with the highest concentration of toxins found in the berries. Clinical signs include drooling, diarrhoea and depression; with a larger intake of berries, toxicity can lead to seizures and death. Eating as few as 6 berries can lead to death in a human.

.Chinaberry Tree. Please see my text for other names of this toxic tree

Chinaberry Tree. Please see my text for other names of this toxic tree

At least one capybara has died as a result of eating the leaves of an Azalea plant. Another capybara became ill, but fortunately survived, after eating the berries of the Chinaberry tree.
Oleander is frequently found growing in gardens and public parks. As little as a few mouthfuls of certain parts of this plant can kill a horse in minutes. The yew tree is another very toxic plant; 8 ounces can kill an adult horse in 5 minutes.

With other plants, such as bracken, the toxic effect can build up over months. So don’t assume your capybara is unharmed just because there is no immediate sign of poisoning after eating a plant that is known to be toxic. In the long term you might be killing your capybara.

Some plants are only poisonous when fresh. Other plants only become poisonous when they are dried. Other plants are only poisonous when they are dead. Some plants are poisonous when they are both fresh and dried.

Many chemicals are toxic to animals. Antifreeze is highly toxic to animals and will kill in a very short space of time. There are many other chemicals such as petroleum products which are highly toxic. Make sure your pet does not have access to these, for example by wandering into your garage.


Common signs to look out for if you think your capybara may have eaten a toxic plant, or other toxin, are:

Drooling
Rolling, unnatural or excessive rolling is often an indication that your capybara is suffering pain in its digestive tract. What we humans would call a tummy ache.
Diarrhoea
Depression
Respiratory distress (shortness of breath, increased heart rate, distressed breathing)
Restlessness
Scratching at the mouth or face
Increased urination
Muscle twitching or shaking
Seizures
Death


Diarrhoea can prove fatal in capybaras.

If you suspect your capybara has eaten any toxic plant take it to your vet immediately. Do not wait for symptoms to appear. By the time symptoms appear it may be too late to save your animal.

If you have any doubts about the safety and toxicity of any plant in your garden you should take the plant to your local garden centre or better still one of the county/state government run agencies, often called the Cooperative Extension, devoted to agriculture and home plant issues. They go by a variety of different names including IFAS or EDIS. They are coordinated through State Universities and implemented by County offices. Every county should have an office. They do a lot of work with plant identification, agricultural disease/pests, gardening, pasture weeds, livestock issues, healthy living, energy savings, invasive plants, beneficial insects, etc. Unfortunately they are sometimes understaffed but this would be a good place to start your search for information. Each state should provide information online regarding toxic plants and other dangers to animals within that state. You should be prepared to do your own search, even if it is time-consuming, to ascertain any dangers that might threaten the life of your beloved capybara.


I would remove every toxic plant from my garden or land rather than risk the death of a capybara I loved
.

A surprisingly large number of common garden and household plants are toxic to pets, and reactions to toxicity range from mild to life-threatening. Capybaras like to explore their environment by mouthing and tasting, and they are therefore particularly vulnerable to accidental poisoning. Many toxic plants might look very pretty in a garden, but the health of your capybara should come first. It is important to know which plants are toxic. Also, if you tell a capybara “No” you will arouse its curiosity and make it more likely to target this plant.

Romeo. A Very Special Capybara

Romeo. A Very Special Capybara

 

I had a wonderful experience of this with Romeo. There was a plant in the neighbour’s garden, where Romeo and Tuff’n sometimes go to graze, which was believed to be potentially toxic. Usually the plant was covered with a garbage bin so that Romeo and Tuff’n couldn’t access it. However as the plant grew bigger the bin began to damage the plant. So instead Romeo was told “no” every time he went over to the plant and we ensured that he did not eat the plant. Marvin decided that Romeo’s interest in the plant was mostly to get Marvin’s attention rather than to eat the plant. As an experiment Marvin turned his back to Romeo as Romeo approached the plant. As soon as Romeo noticed that Marvin wasn’t looking he completely lost interest in the plant! Just like a mischievous child seeking attention.

Romeo is an exceptional capybara who tries to please. It might well be that turning your back will not have this effect on some other capybaras who might go ahead and try and eat the plant. Romeo knew he was not supposed to eat the plant and he is probably a little unusual amongst capybaras because of his very close relationship with the humans he has bonded with.

Waiting to Go to the Park to Graze

Waiting to Go to the Park to Graze

The following are very useful sites:

This site contains information about Poisonous Plants for Horses: http://www.understanding-horse-nutrition.com/poisonous-plants.html

This site has photographs of the Poisonous Weeds in Horse Pastures. Created by Rutgers University and New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (NJAES). Cooperative Extension Fact Sheet FS938. May 2013: http://njaes.rutgers.edu/pubs/fs938/

You can do a search by plant name to determine toxicity at this site: Plants Poisonous to Livestock created by Cornell University: http://www.ansci.cornell.edu/plants/php/plants.php?action=display&ispecies=horses

This site gives information about plants that are toxic to sheep. You might want to check it out: http://www.homesteadingtoday.com/livestock-forums/sheep/31663-sheep-basics-toxic-plant-list.html

This site includes toxic chemicals, medicines and drugs as well as poisonous plants. Produced by the pharmaceutical company Merck: http://www.merckmanuals.com/pethealth/special_subjects/poisoning/plants_poisonous_to_animals.html

Romeo to on the deck 20%


The following information relates to pets in general, primarily the most common pets such as cats and dogs.
I personally would not risk a capybara’s health by including any of these plants in my garden or on my land:

The following 12 plants are the toxic plants most commonly eaten by pets in general which resulted in the pets requiring medical treatment. Not all the pets survived. The danger posed by these plants will vary from species to species and the amount the animal has eaten. I would recommend removing all these toxic plants from your garden or land.

1. Lilies (Lilium, all spp.): Ingesting any part of the plant can cause complete kidney failure in 36-72 hours. First symptoms appear in a few hours and may include appetite suppression, lethargy, vomiting.
2. Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis): Ingesting any part of the plant can cause cardiac dysrhythmias (any disorder of the heart rate/rhythm/pulse such as beating too fast, too slow or irregularly), vomiting, diarrhoea, confusion, weakness, and even death.
3. Anemone (Anenome and Pulsatilla, family Ranunculaceae): Irritates the mucus membranes, and can cause blisters, hemorrhagic gastritis, shock, convulsions, and death.
4. Aloe Vera (family Liliaceae): Vomiting, depression, diarrhoea, anorexia, tremors, change in urine color.
5. Amaryllis (family Amaryllidaceaea, incl. Hippeastrum spp.) All species, including Belladonna Lily, are toxic. The bulbs are the toxic part of the plant. The “Amaryllis” commonly seen during the December holidays are Hippeastrum species. Symptoms include vomiting, depression, diarrhea, abdominal pain, increased salivation, anorexia, tremors.
6. Asparagus Fern (family Liliaceae): Allergic dermatitis, gastric upset, vomiting, diarrhea.
7. Daffodil (Narcissus): Vomiting, diarrhea. Large ingestions cause convulsions, low blood pressure, tremors, cardiac arrhythmias (irregular heart rhythms).
8. Philodendrons: Irritation, intense burning and irritation of the mouth, lips, tongue, excessive drooling, vomiting, difficulty swallowing.
9. Jade Plants (Crassula argentea): Vomiting, depressions, ataxia (in ability to control muscles/lack of muscle coordination), slow heart rate.
10. Chrysanthemums: Vomiting, diarrhea, increased salivation, lack of coordination/ataxia, dermatitis.
11. Cyclamen (Cyclamen persicum): The tubers or rhizomes contain the toxic glycoside cyclanin, a terpenoid saponin. Ingestion can cause excess salivation, vomiting, diarrhea, heart rhythm abnormalities, seizures, or even death in rare cases.
12. Cycads (including Sago palm; cardboard palm; etc.): The “Sago palm” is a cycad, not a true palm, and all parts of the plant are poisonous. Symptoms include vomiting, lethargy, melena (black “tarry” feces), jaundice, increased thirst, hemorrhagic gastritis, bruising, coagulopathy (blood is unable to clot properly), liver failure, and death.

The following plants are highly toxic:

• Angel’s Trumpet (Brugmansia species)
• Castor bean (Ricinus communis)
• Daphne (Daphne spp.)
• Deathcamas & Meadow Deathcamas (Zigadenus venenosus)
• English yew (Taxus baccata)
• Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea)
• Jimson weed or Devil’s Trumpet (this plant has many common names) (Datura spp.)
• Nicotiana/Tobacco plants (all spp.)
• Oleander (Nerium Oleander)
• Poison hemlock (Conium maculatum)
• Pokeweed (Phytilacca americana)
• Tree tobacco (Nicotiana glauca)
• Western water hemlock (Cicuta douglasii)
• Yew (Taxus cuspidata)

Another useful site that gives information about plants that are potentially poisonous to animals:
Plants Potentially Poisonous to Pets : The Humane Society of the United States http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/resources/tips/plants_poisonous_to_pets.html

You might also want to check out Plants and Flowers that are dangerous for Guinea Pigs and Rabbits. These include:

Bluebell, Crocus, Daffodil, Dock, Foxglove, Hyacinth, Laburnum, Poppy, Ragwort, Tulip and once again Yew

Potato sprouts, potato peelings, and anything to do with a potato plant
Beans and anything to do with a bean plant
Anything to do with a tomato plant (the tomato itself is okay)
Anything to do with rhubarb
Dill (watch out for prepackaged “salad & herb” kits) and
Flowers or any part of a flowering plant
Houseplants
Unidentified weeds
Any foods that were previously frozen
Fruit cores, pits, and seeds. You should of course avoid feeding fruit to capybaras as their digestive system, hindgut fermentation, has not evolved to cope with any food with a high sugar content.

This site includes a list of Plants, Human Medicines and Chemicals, like antifreeze, which are harmful to Guinea Pigs and Rabbits: http://www.jspca.org.je/pets_toxins_info.html

Be Aware of any Animals, Spiders or Snakes in your area whose bite could be lethal to a capybara:

A Scorpion bite can kill a young capybara as happened to one young 7 month old capybara that I was particularly fond of. You should be aware of Scorpion nests if you live in an area with scorpions that pose a danger to young children.

This Enchanting Young Capybara Died after Being Stung by Scorpion. In this photo he is sitting in my lap. He Was so Gentle and Trusting. I still cry when I think about him

This Enchanting Young Capybara Died after Being Stung by Scorpion.
In this photo he is sitting in my lap. He Was so Gentle and Trusting. I still cry when I think about him

Check to see if there are any dangerous snakes, spiders or scorpions in the area in which you live. If you know that poisonous creatures enter your garden or land you will need to think very carefully about how you will deal with this problem. Do you want to risk the life of your capybara by letting your capybara graze unsupervised? I certainly wouldn’t. It is your responsibility to safeguard the life of your capybara.

More information on toxic plants:
http://www.livescience.com/39253-toxic-plants-poison-cats-dogs.html?adbid=10152505207396761&adbpl=fb&adbpr=30478646760&cmpid=514627_20150111_38540967

I have written this blog to get people who live with a capybara to THINK about what dangers may lurk on their property that could kill their beloved capybara. I am always surprised and concerned about how little thought some people give to the potential risks that their capybara might encounter. There seems to be a great deal of inertia.

Please use this blog as a starting point and do your own research.

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Protected: My observations of Capybaras at Nagasaki Bio Park. Blog for Animal Behaviour Course MOOC …

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The Sacred Golden Capybara 聖なる黄金カピバラ

45% Brilliant Romeo Gordon mud Capy crop May 16 2014 Mud 057

Romeo

The Sacred Golden Mud Capy, Revered and Worshipped for Thousands of Years For His Spiritual Inspiration and Healing Powers.
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                       Many people have discovered the healing powers of capybara.
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If you live with a capybara who loves you, and you are ill or in pain the capybara will come and lie beside you all day to mitigate your suffering. Capybara may lay his head on the injured area of your body and you will find this a source of comfort and inspiration, and you will undoubtedly feel better.
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If you are stressed and facing difficult challenges in your life, thinking of capybaras will ensure you relax and relieve your stress, helping you to focus more clearly and positively on your path ahead.

People who live in harmony with a capybara often find they no longer get ill.

 

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Whenever I am surrounded by loud, noisy unpleasant people, I imagine they are all gentle, chuckling capybaras and I instantly feel better. Capybaras make the most wonderful, cute, gentle chuckling sounds when they are happy and content.

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When you go to bed at night you will hear a distant happy chuckling coming closer and closer. Then Capybara will jump up on the bed beside you, lay his head on your shoulder or under your chin, and snuggle up as close as possible to you.

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Capybara will continue to converse with you making happy chuckles in response to your chuckles. This conversation is amazing to witness and takes communication between humans and capybaras to an altogether higher, more mystical plane, which very few people experience.

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To have this inspirational and spiritually rewarding relationship with a capybara you must be tuned in to its emotional needs. You must love him so much that you automatically want to put the capybara’s needs before your own. Many capybaras become aggressive because the people they are living with do not understand them.

This blog is dedicated to Romeo, an exceptional Capybara. Capybaras are an exceptional species

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