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.

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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.

 

 

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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 …

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

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.

 

35% May 16 2014 Mud 056 crop

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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Pet Capybara FAQs. The Questions People Always Ask.

Pet Capybara FAQs. ペットのカピバラのFAQ。 (よくある質問)

Part 1 and much of Part 2 by Marvin Reeder who lives with Romeo and Tuff’n. These are the questions Marvin and Elizabeth are asked every day when they take Romeo and Tuff’n to the park:

Tuff'n and Romeo make regular visits to Lake Mead to swim. They do have their own specially treated swimming pool at home, but in the wild they would enjoy a life with wide open vistas. Capybaras like most wild animals do not like to be confined. They hate fences and barriers.

Tuff’n and Romeo make regular visits to Lake Mead to swim. They do have their own specially treated swimming pool at home, but in the wild they would enjoy a life with space and vistas. Capybaras like most wild animals do not like to be confined. They hate fences and barriers.

1. What is that?   A capybara.

What is a capybara?  

(Polite answer):     A Semi-Aquatic Herbivore from South America.

(Straight answer):     The World’s Largest Rodent.

Romeo

Romeo

2. Do they make a good pet?     NO!

It is very hard to create an environment which is healthy and mentally rewarding for the capybara, and safe.

How to pet a baby capybara. Little 2 month old Cookie, Maple’s daughter and Butter’s sister, goes into a trance state when just the right spot is massaged in just the right way.

 

The best experience you may have with capybaras is at Nagasaki Bio Park. Please see my blog:  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

https://capybaraworld.wordpress.com/2016/04/01/if-you-want-a-capybara-to-sit-in-your-lap-go-to-nagasaki-bio-park-%e3%81%82%e3%81%aa%e3%81%9f%e3%81%af%e5%a5%bd%e3%81%8d%e3%81%a7%e3%81%99%e3%81%8b%ef%bc%9f%e6%84%9b%e6%83%85%e3%82%ab%e3%83%94/

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3. Are they like a cat or a dog?    No!

They are like a toddler (human) with sharp teeth and an attitude.

Capybara society is very hierarchical. Male capybaras will challenge each other to become the dominant male. With their very sharp teeth this will result in cuts. If you're male capybara decides to challenge you for the dominant position you will get bitten. Capybara skin is much tougher than human skin so it will be very painful

Capybara society is very hierarchical. Male capybaras will challenge each other to become the dominant male. With their very sharp teeth this will result in cuts.
If your male capybara decides to challenge you for the dominant position you may well get bitten. Capybara skin is much tougher than human skin so it will be very painful

4. Are Capybaras Dangerous?:     Capybaras have razor sharp teeth and can be unpredictable. They are after all wild animals.

Do they bite?      Yes, depending on circumstances. I know of several capybaras which have bitten their owners and are now in shelters. It breaks my heart to think how these capybaras have been failed by humans, who probably should never have lived with a capybara in the first place.

Our video: Even the Most Sweet Natured Capybara Can Turn Aggressive 甘い性格のペットカピバラは攻撃的になる
Romeo is the most fantastic Capybara as anyone who has seen the videos of Romeo kissing Elizabeth Ojeda-Reeder Romeo-Tuffn will realise. But capybaras are wild animals and you never know how your actions might play out in the mind of a wild animal. It’s too easy to show how incredibly adorable capybaras are. I’ve seen a couple of blogs lately suggesting capybaras make great pets. This is absolute rubbish and very irresponsible. Capybaras need an incredible amount of love, time and commitment. Very few people would be able to give this. Too many capybaras get rejected as they get bigger and older and end up in refuges or die prematurely.

There is an awful lot of misinformation and inaccurate information about capybaras on the Internet.

 

Romeo nibbles Marvin affectionately. Very few, if any, capybaras could be trusted in this way. Romeo is quite exceptional. Romeo knows that Marvin is number one in the hierarchy and occasionally Romeo challenges him and becomes aggressive. Marvin is powerful enough, and has many decades experience with animals so he has never been seriously injured. This might not be the case with most humans.

Romeo nibbles Marvin affectionately. Very few, if any, capybaras could be trusted in this way. Romeo is quite exceptional.
Romeo knows that Marvin is number one in the hierarchy and occasionally Romeo challenges him and becomes aggressive.
Marvin is powerful enough, and has many decades of experience with animals so he has never been seriously injured. This might not be the case with most humans.

5. How much does IT cost?

The cost could easily exceed thousands of dollars, when you factor in vet’s bills. The time investment the capybara needs is often greater than the (substantial) financial obligation.

Romeo is marking a cushion (with urine, which does not smell) as he frequently does to enforce his territory. He doesn't like the smell of freshly washed cushions. You can see the stains from the faeces on the carpet, faeces is also used for marking. Since this photo was taken all the carpets have been ripped out. In the living room there are now 2 bales of hay instead of furniture. The capybaras eat a lot of hay.

Romeo is marking a cushion (with urine, which does not smell) as he frequently does to enforce his territory. He doesn’t like the smell of freshly washed cushions.
You can see the stains from the faeces on the carpet, faeces is also used for marking.
Since this photo was taken all the carpets have been ripped out. In the living room there are now 2 bales of hay instead of furniture. The capybaras eat a lot of hay.

6. Are they potty trained?

Yes and No.  They are easily potty trained as babies.  However, as they grow older they will probably want to mark their territory using urine and feces. Capybaras need/like to mark their territory (with pooh). Don’t plan on keeping a carpet! Slick surfaces, like tiles, are too slippery, capybaras don’t get good traction with their claws and find it difficult to walk on slick surfaces.

Please see our video: What Capybaras Do When No One Is Looking カピバラアクション。誰も見ていない。   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CvtVm_wN2PY

Romeo doesn’t like the smell of the furnishings especially after they’ve been washed. He needs to make the smells more interesting by marking (using urine and sometimes faeces – you can see the stains on the carpet from the faeces) them. And since there are 2 male capybaras he needs to establish his territory by marking. This should make you think twice about having a pet capybara! Capybaras have not evolved over millions of years to live in homes. Unlike dogs and cats who have had over 10,000 years of domestication in which to adapt to living with humans, capybaras’ natural lifestyles should be respected if they come and live with you. After all they never asked to be your companions. Fortunately Romeo and Tuff’n live in a home with a family who understand their needs, and understand that their needs must be paramount.

 

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Part 2 Pet Capybara FAQs – more detailed answers.                   There is a lot of inaccurate information about capybaras on the Internet.

Romeo is about to jump into the pool. You can see the little turds (faeces) he has left behind beside the pool to mark his watering hole.

Romeo is about to jump into the pool. You can see the little turds (faeces) he has left behind beside the pool to mark his watering hole.

1. What is a capybara?

Please see my Blog:    Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Capybaras. Capybara facts and information: https://capybaraworld.wordpress.com/2014/03/29/capybara-facts-and-information-%e3%82%ab%e3%83%94%e3%83%90%e3%83%a9%e3%81%ae%e4%ba%8b%e5%ae%9f%e3%81%a8%e6%83%85%e5%a0%b1/

All the carpets have now been ripped out. It is quite natural for capybaras to mark their territory. It would be cruel to prevent them carrying out this completely natural activity. So for reasons of hygiene you will need to have a floor that is easily washed. However, it must not be slick and slippery, like a tiled floor, as capybaras would not be able to move around comfortably on this type of flooring. The main living room has had all the furniture removed. Now there are just 2 bales of hay for the capybaras to eat.

All the carpets have now been ripped out. It is quite natural for capybaras to mark their territory. It would be cruel to prevent them carrying out this completely natural activity. So for reasons of hygiene you will need to have a floor that is easily washed. However, it must not be slick and slippery, like a tiled floor, as capybaras would not be able to move around comfortably on this type of flooring.
The main living room has had all the furniture removed. Now there are just 2 bales of hay for the capybaras to eat.

 

2. Do they make a good pet?

No!    Capybaras are wild animals whose natural behaviour is not suited to domestication. They are wired for certain behaviours. If you force them to behave by your rules you will destroy some aspect of their spirit and your relationship with them. They did not ask to come and live with you, therefore the onus is on you to adapt to them and to ensure their happiness. You need to establish a very strong bond and good rapport with your capybara so that the capybara wants to do what you ask. Even then, although the capybara may understand perfectly what you are asking them to do, they will only comply if it suits them.

Marvin and Elizabeth have ripped out all their carpets. The largest room in the house has been given over to the capybaras and is covered in hay which provides good traction for capybara feet and a soft nesting area to rest on. There are two large bales of hay for Romeo and Tuff’n to eat.

Capybaras are herd animals and will expect the human they have bonded with to remain with them at all times. They get very stressed and anxious if this human leaves the home. Therefore if you have to go out to work or you need to enjoy a busy social life, please do not even consider having a capybara.

Capybaras are exceptionally social, gregarious herd animals. They become extremely distressed if left on their own. In the wild if a member of their herd became separated it would mean almost certain death.

Capybaras are exceptionally social, gregarious herd animals. They become extremely distressed if left on their own. In the wild if a member of their herd became separated it would mean almost certain death.

Some of the issues you will face include: i) Ensuring the capybaras have access to enough grass. It is far better for their teeth for them to graze, than for you to provide them with ready cut grass; ii) Providing access to a pool which is large enough for them to swim in and sanitised in a way that will not harm the capybara (see my two blogs on swimming pool size and sterilisation, links given below); iii) Placing electrical/power cords out of reach of the capybara; iv) Making sure there is nothing a capybara, especially a baby capybara, can crawl under and hide out of reach (when a baby capybara first arrives at a new home it may well be frightened and try to escape from you).

As Marvin and Elizabeth say with regard to living with a capybara: “Often it’s the little things or something you might not think would hurt them, that you have to look out for. Capybaras are not designed to live in a house. Everything is dangerous to them. We as humans have to look ahead and make it as safe as possible. This is a learning experience for all of us”.

A capybara in a pen would be very unhappy. It would not be getting the social attention it needs, and capybaras are amongst the most social animals I have ever met. In the wild their territory extends over many hectares (average size of territory in the wild is 5 – 16 hectares but can be much larger). To be confined in a cage of 100 ft.², (one Internet site suggests this size pen is appropriate!) would be like a prison. Capybaras don’t like barriers or boundaries.

Capybaras practice cecotrophy. This can get a little messy and you may find small amounts of cecotropes on your bed, sofa etc. 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. Capybaras most often practice cecotrophy in the early morning hours when protein content is highest.

Capybaras practice cecotrophy. This can get a little messy and you may find small amounts of cecotropes on your bed, sofa etc.
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. Capybaras most often practice cecotrophy in the early morning hours when protein content is highest.

3. Are they like a cat or a dog?

No.   Capybaras are wild animals, they are not domesticated. Unlike cats and dogs they have not had more than 10,000 years of domestication in which to adapt to living with humans. There are people who feel that it is unkind to keep an exotic animal as a pet.

Capybaras are highly intelligent and very sophisticated emotionally. They will plan and strategise behaviours in order to get their way. If capybaras are frustrated or dissatisfied they may defecate on the carpet or in other inappropriate areas. They may pout or throw fits. They may well bite you.

Capybaras have very impressive, razor sharp teeth.  They can do a lot of harm and inflict a very painful bite if they choose to.

Capybaras have very impressive, razor sharp teeth. They can do a lot of harm and inflict a very painful bite if they choose to.

 

4. Are Capybaras Dangerous?   Do they bite?

Capybaras are very territorial and hierarchical. I know of many capybaras who have bitten the humans they live with because of territorial or hierarchical issues which their human did not have the skill, aptitude or knowledge to resolve.

If they are left alone they will become very stressed and unhappy which can lead to bad behaviour and biting. I know of too many capybaras who were living in unhappy circumstances and resorted to biting to express their unhappiness. A capybara bite can be very serious as they have razor sharp teeth.

Our video: Even the Most Sweet Natured Capybara Can Turn Aggressive 甘い性格のペットカピバラは攻撃的になる
Romeo is the most fantastic Capybara as anyone who has seen the videos of Romeo kissing Elizabeth Ojeda-Reeder Romeo-Tuffn will realise. But capybaras are wild animals and you never know how your actions might play out in the mind of a wild animal. It’s too easy to show how incredibly adorable capybaras are. I’ve seen a couple of blogs lately suggesting capybaras make great pets. This is absolute rubbish and very irresponsible. Capybaras need an incredible amount of love, time and commitment. Very few people would be able to give this. Too many capybaras get rejected as they get bigger and older and end up in refuges or die prematurely.

There is an awful lot of misinformation and inaccurate information about capybaras on the Internet.

 

Capybaras love to roll in the mud. It is an essential activity for the health of their skin. Although you may try to keep them out of the house until they have been washed, capybaras are very clever and devious at finding a way into your pristine house. Another reason not to have carpets.

Capybaras love to roll in the mud. It is an essential activity for the health of their skin. Although you may try to keep them out of the house until they have been washed, capybaras are very clever and devious at finding a way into your pristine house. Another reason not to have carpets.

 

5. How much does IT cost?

When considering the cost of living with a pet capybara, you will need an exotic pet vet who is experienced in looking after capybaras. Exotic pet vets are expensive. If you do not follow the right diet you will have health problems and tooth problems. The vet and dental bills will pile up.

Capybara teeth keep growing and need to be kept in check by eating coarse food. In the wild the capybara’s diet consists of wild grasses, some sages and aquatic plants, and bark. Many capybaras chew on twigs or stones to keep their teeth in check. You should follow this diet as closely as possible as capybaras digestion has evolved over 15 million years for this diet.

Video: Adorable Clever Capybara Knows How to Keep Her Teeth Healthy:

The correct diet is critically important for a capybara. Due to the way capybaras digest food, hindgut fermentation, they should not be fed sweet things, even sweetcorn. “What Should I Feed My Pet Capybara?”: https://capybaraworld.wordpress.com/2013/02/11/what-should-i-feed-my-pet-capybara/

If you have a male capybara the cost of neutering will be about $700.

Capybaras need sun for the health of their bones. In the wild they live outside, of course, and are exposed to sun throughout the day. Several pet capybaras have suffered very serious problems with their bones as a result of being kept inside. One young capybara has bones which are in such a poor state that his vet has advised he should be put down.

El Torro Romeo. Every day Romeo and Tuff'n go to the park to graze for 2 or 3 hours. Capybaras' digestive system has evolved over more than 15 million years for a diet of grasses. In the wild capybaras spend between 31% (in the wet season) and 42% (in the dry season) grazing. If they do not get the right diet, with plenty of course material, they may get life-threatening problems with their teeth. They should never be given sweet foods or junk food. Photo by Marvin Reeder

El Torro Romeo.
Every day Romeo and Tuff’n go to the park to graze for 2 or 3 hours. Capybaras’ digestive system has evolved over more than 15 million years for a diet of grasses. In the wild capybaras spend between 31% (in the wet season) and 42% (in the dry season) grazing.
If they do not get the right diet, with plenty of course material, they may get life-threatening problems with their teeth. They should never be given sweet foods or junk food.
Photo by Marvin Reeder

6. Are they potty trained?

Baby capybaras are very trainable without giving treats. They respond very well to the reward of being told “Good Boy/Girl” by the human they are attached to. However as they grow older they very often begin to mark their territory with their morillo and anal gland, using urine and faeces.

They defecate on average every 2 hours. That means you will be cleaning the potty pan at least 10 times a day if not more. This is a messy and unpleasant task.

Romeo Marking His Territory (with urine). It is natural for capybaras to mark their territory. It would be cruel to prevent them from fulfilling their natural behaviour. They never asked to be your companions and live in a house designed for humans. Most people would not be prepared to alter their lifestyle to ensure the happiness of their exotic pet. For this reason they really shouldn't consider keeping a capybara as a pet.

Romeo Marking His Territory (with urine). It is natural for capybaras to mark their territory. It would be cruel to prevent them from fulfilling their natural behaviour. They never asked to be your companions and live in a house designed for humans.
Most people would not be prepared to alter their lifestyle to ensure the happiness of their exotic pet. For this reason they really shouldn’t consider keeping a capybara as a pet.

Other things to consider:

Capybaras understand many words and phrases. You need to be the sort of person who is in tune with animals and able to communicate with animals in a respectful and loving way.

Capybaras are exceedingly cute, perhaps even more so when they are babies. However adult capybaras will take over the house. They are exceptionally smart and opportunistic. You will find yourself feeling bad that you haven’t made their accommodations better so as to fit in with their lifestyle.

Please see our video: What Capybaras Do When No One Is Looking カピバラアクション。誰も見ていない。

Romeo doesn’t like the smell of the furnishings especially after they’ve been washed. He needs to make the smells more interesting by marking (using urine and sometimes faeces – you can see the stains on the carpet from the faeces) them. And since there are 2 male capybaras he needs to establish his territory by marking. This should make you think twice about having a pet capybara! Capybaras have not evolved over millions of years to live in homes. Unlike dogs and cats who have had over 10,000 years of domestication in which to adapt to living with humans, capybaras’ natural lifestyles should be respected if they come and live with you. After all they never asked to be your companions. Fortunately Romeo and Tuff’n live in a home with a family who understand their needs, and understand that their needs must be paramount.

                                                                                                                                                         ********************
For more information on keeping a capybara safe and healthy please read my blogs listed below:

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

A) The correct diet is critically important for a capybara. Due to the way capybaras digestive food, hindgut fermentation, they should not be fed sweet things, even sweetcorn. “What Should I Feed My Pet Capybara?”: https://capybaraworld.wordpress.com/2013/02/11/what-should-i-feed-my-pet-capybara/
B) Protect Your Capybaras and Guinea Pigs from Power Cords and Electric Cables:
https://capybaraworld.wordpress.com/2013/06/29/protect-your-capybaras-and-guinea-pigs-from-power-cords-and-electric-cables-%e9%9b%bb%e6%ba%90%e3%82%b3%e3%83%bc%e3%83%89%e3%81%a8%e9%9b%bb%e6%b0%97%e3%82%b1%e3%83%bc%e3%83%96%e3%83%ab%e3%81%8b/

C) A male capybara kept as a pet will almost certainly need to be neutered between the ages of 4 and 6 months. This is costly at about $700, but also very painful and stressful for both the capybara and for you. Please see my blog: Neutering a Pet Capybara. Tuff’n’s Story: “Who Stole My Testicles”.

https://capybaraworld.wordpress.com/2013/07/07/neutering-a-pet-capybara-tuffn
s-story-who-stole-my-testicles-%E3%83%9A%E3%83%83%E3%83%88%E3%81%AE%E3%82%AB
%E3%83%94%E3%83%90%E3%83%A9%E3%82%92%E5%8E%BB%E5%8B%A2-%E3%83%AA%E3%83%88/

 

E) Please see my blog which gives information about the dangers to capybaras of letting capybaras use your swimming pool. I also give information about the best system to use to clean the water in your swimming pool, with minimal use of chlorine, which would not be good for the capybaras:

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/
F) Pet Capybara Pool Size. What Size Pool Does My Capybara Need?:
https://capybaraworld.wordpress.com/2013/10/07/pet-capybara-pool-size-what-size-pool-does-my-capybara-need/

G) How to Look after a Pet Capybara – The Capybaras Will Tell You Everything You Need to Know
https://capybaraworld.wordpress.com/2013/03/30/how-to-look-after-a-pet-capybara-the-capybaras-will-tell-you-everything-you-need-to-know/

H) Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Capybaras. Capybara facts and information: https://capybaraworld.wordpress.com/2014/03/29/capybara-facts-and-information-%e3%82%ab%e3%83%94%e3%83%90%e3%83%a9%e3%81%ae%e4%ba%8b%e5%ae%9f%e3%81%a8%e6%83%85%e5%a0%b1/

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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

Adult Female Capybara, 6 years old.  成人女性カピバラ。 6歳

Adult Female Capybara, 6 years old. 成人女性カピバラ。 6歳

Capybara Facts and Information (Hydrochoerus Hydrochaeris) Short version. For more detailed information please see the longer version below this short version:

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.   It is the world’s largest rodent.

Scientific name: Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris

The name, capybara, originates from a word in the language of the indigenous Tupi people (ka’pii which means grass + gwara which means eater). There are many, many different names for the capybara in South America, the most common of these include: carpincho, capivara, chiguire, ronsoco.

In the past capybaras were also known as Water Pig

There are 2 species of capybara.    The less common species is the Lesser Capybara (Hydrochoerus Isthmius) found in eastern Panama, north western Colombia and western Venezuela. 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.

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. The highest altitude at which capybaras are found is 4, 500 feet (1500 m). The only South American country with no capybaras is Chile.

6 Week Old Baby Capybara Sleeping.   6週齢の赤ちゃんカピバラは眠る

6 Week Old Baby Capybara Sleeping. 6週齢の赤ちゃんカピバラは眠る

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. 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.

WN 40% crop best sparse hair 28 Dec 2016 070

Capybara hair is very sparse. It is also very coarse, although softer in babies and very young capybaras. As capybaras are semiaquatic and spend long periods in water it is necessary that their hair dries quickly. In this photo I was petting an eight months old capybara so her hair rose as she was enjoying the experience and you can clearly see the skin underneath.

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 hairless 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.

    The Vestigial Tail of a Capybara (by the little red arrow).   カピバラの痕跡尾。 (赤い矢印で)

The Vestigial Tail of a Capybara (by the little red arrow). カピバラの痕跡尾。 (赤い矢印で)

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. Capybaras are very agile in water and can swim very fast.  A Jaguar has to be within 3 feet of a capybara to have a chance of a successful attack.

They can remain under water for up to 5 minutes. They can also sleep under water leaving their nose above the waterline in order to breathe. Their nostrils, eyes and ears are all located on the top of their head so they can remain submerged and almost completely hidden with just their nose, eyes and ears protruding above the water.   Capybaras have partially webbed feet.

Male Capybara Surrounded by Adoring Female Capybaras Nibbling Him and Vying for His Attention.  オスカピバラは、女性のカピバラを絶賛に囲まれています。

Male Capybara Surrounded by Adoring Female Capybaras Nibbling Him and Vying for His Attention. オスカピバラは、女性のカピバラを絶賛に囲まれています。

Most activities are located close to water. Capybaras always rest close to water. Most mating takes place in water. Capybaras defecate in water for preference, but will also defecate on land often to mark territory and send out a chemical signal.

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

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

Territory and Habitat: The average size of territory is between 5 – 16 hectares, though can be much larger if vegetation is sparse. The capybara’s territory must provide sufficient resources to ensure survival if widely differing seasonal conditions pertain. The size of territory and the availability of water and food resources determines the size of the herd. The home territory must include a water hole, bushy scrub, patches of higher ground on which to avoid flooding at the height of the wet season and low-lying areas of grass. Bushy scrub provide shelter and is also essential for reproductive success as the females go off into the bushy scrub to give birth in part so that they are not visible to predators.

Lifespan: In the wild their lifespan averages 8 to 10 years. The oldest capybara kept in captivity lived to be 15 years old at Adelaide Zoo, in Australia.

Top speed on land: Capybaras can run very fast with a top speed of about 22 mph (35 km an hour).  They can run as fast as a small horse. They are very agile on land, although they are most at home in water.

Capybaras running in the wild

Capybaras running in the wild

Capybaras live in Herds, which vary in size. The size of the herd is related to the availability of critical resources like water and forage. Average group size is between 5 – 15 adults, though groups as large as 60 adults have been reported. In the Amazon rainforests of Peru some capybaras live in groups of 2 – 3 (one male and 2 females). Herds are hierarchical with a dominant male. Females in the group are thought to be related. The benefits of living in a group include protection from predators, access to mates, alloparenting (females share nursing and caring for the pups), and kin selection.

Capybaras stand on their hind legs and use their razor sharp teeth to bite their opponent when they are fighting for the dominant place in the hierarchy. Usually the subordinate capybara will run away rather than risk injury.   カピバラは戦うために後ろ足で立つ。鋭い歯相手を噛ま。下位のカピバラは通常逃げる。けがのリスクを望んでいない

Capybaras stand on their hind legs and use their razor sharp teeth to bite their opponent when they are fighting for the dominant place in the hierarchy. Usually the subordinate capybara will run away rather than risk injury. カピバラは戦うために後ろ足で立つ。鋭い歯相手を噛ま。下位のカピバラは通常逃げる。けがのリスクを望んでいない

In this photo of two male capybaras fighting in the wild, the male capybara on the right is challenging the capybara on the left for dominance of the herd. On this occasion the existing dominant capybara succeeds in chasing the challenger off his territory

In this photo of two male capybaras fighting in the wild, the male capybara on the right is challenging the capybara on the left for dominance of the herd. On this occasion the existing dominant capybara succeeds in chasing the challenger off his territory

Hierarchy: the most obvious feature of capybara society is the dominance hierarchy among males. The dominant male achieves this status through ritualised aggressive posturing which seldom leads to a fight as subordinate capybaras prefer not to fight and will usually run away to avoid injury. The dominant male is very often the largest male. The main advantage in being number one in the male hierarchy is access to receptive females. Female capybaras are more receptive to the dominant male than to the subordinate males. In the wild a female dominance hierarchy has not been observed. Hierarchy amongst females in captivity is primarily associated with feeding rights, i.e. access to the most food and the tastiest food, and can lead to fights.

Dominant males tolerate subordinate males in their herds as subordinate males play an important role in defending the territory by looking out for danger/predators. Subordinate males make more alarm calls than the dominant male and the females, and they are found on the fringes of the herd.

Capybara Eyesight: capybara’s rely more on their excellent hearing and sense of smell. Their eyesight is good but not outstanding. Capybaras they do not have good night vision.

Communication:   Communication is very important for capybaras as they live in a closed social unit with a complex social structure. Communication is by vocalisation and by chemical signalling, via two glands in both sexes, one on the nose called a morillo and via the anal glands.

Capybaras have outstanding hearing. They also communicate in the infrasonic and ultrasonic sound frequencies. Infrasonic refers to sounds at frequencies below those audible to the human ear, usually below 20 Hz. Ultrasonic refers to sounds above those audible to the human ear, usually above 20,000 Hz.

Capybaras have an excellent sense of smell. They can sense water from at least a distance of 1 mile away from the water source.

Vocalisations:   Capybaras make at least seven different sounds that appear to be group specific (i.e. slightly different in each herd). Capybaras also appear to have a slightly different call for each member of the herd. Capybaras vocalise frequently, with baby capybaras emitting a characteristic higher pitched squeak or chuckle perhaps to maintain contact among themselves and with their mother and other females. Keeping in touch with the herd is a matter of life or death for most capybaras in order to avoid predators. If there is a threat the adults may make a circle facing outwards around the young. Capybara’s vocalisations range from contented chuckles, through barks (used as a warning, a threat or to express excitement), plaintive squeaks, clicks and ultrasonic and infrasonic emissions inaudible to the human ear that can be felt as a vibration if you are next to the capybara.

The sound a capybara mother makes as her babies suckle is truly magical. She goes into a trance like 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.

The sound of a herd of capybara singing in unison is quite magical:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9AbB3aufAcU

Female capybaras rub and nibble the male capybara and vocalise:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mhDr6ocRRMI

The sound a capybara mother makes as her babies suckle is truly magical. She goes into a trance like 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 year old female capybara calls. After a short while the male capybara appears. The female rubs her morillo against the anal pocket/genital area of the male and marks by urinating. The male capybara rubs his morillo against the anal pocket/genital area of another female:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g9z_1fXsq2k

For more information about the sounds capybaras make, and links to videos of capybaras calls, please see my blog:

https://capybaraworld.wordpress.com/2015/05/30/the-sounds-capybaras-make-capybaras-vocalisations-calls-and-barks-%e3%82%b5%e3%82%a6%e3%83%b3%e3%83%89%e3%81%af%e3%80%81%e3%82%ab%e3%83%94%e3%83%90%e3%83%a9%e3%83%a1%e3%82%a4%e3%82%af%e3%80%82/

Courtship Behaviour. Male capybara (with back to camera) nuzzles female capybara under the chin.   求愛行動。(カメラに背を)男性カピバラはあごの下、女性カピバラニブル。

Courtship Behaviour. Male capybara (with back to camera) nuzzles female capybara under the chin. 求愛行動。(カメラに背を)男性カピバラはあごの下、女性カピバラニブル。

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 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 acceded 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 lookouts, and make warning calls. These subordinate male capybaras stay on the periphery of the herd.

Scent Marking: Scent marking can convey a wide spectrum of information, including the marking of territory to defend limited resources, like the water hole, and as a mechanism for social cohesion by indicating group membership and individual identity. One of the main purposes of scent marking, particularly using the morillo, is thought to be to maintain social status, i.e. to maintain the strict social hierarchy in males. A female will often defecate in close proximity to a male, thereby sending out a chemical signal, to show her interest in him. The role of scent marking in the maintenance of social status cannot be overestimated.

Scent marking behaviour in capybaras is more common in males than females, but during courtship males and females mark with equal frequency and use both glands. A typical marking sequence for males involves rubbing the morrillo against a shrub or twig then straddling the plant, pressing the anal pocket onto it and sometimes simultaneously urinating on the plant.

Scent marking behaviour in capybaras is more common in males than females, but during courtship males and females mark with equal frequency and use both glands. A typical marking sequence for males involves rubbing the morrillo against a shrub or twig then straddling the plant, pressing the anal pocket onto it and sometimes simultaneously urinating on the plant.

Individual capybaras vary in the chemical composition of their secretions and this enables individual recognition from the scent marks.

Capybara Mating.  カピバラの交尾

Capybara Mating. カピバラの交尾

Male and female capybaras both have anal glands which they use to mark territory. A typical marking sequence for males and females involves rubbing the morillo against a shrub or twig (or in the case of pet capybaras against a familiar object or a favoured human), then straddling the plant or familiar object (the familiar object might be a shoe or cushion) and pressing the anal pocket onto it, and sometimes simultaneously urinating on it. During this process hairs from the anal pocket are detached and left as a marker. Dominant males mark more frequently than subordinate males.

Number one in the female hierarchy squeezes her anal scent glands as she walks by crossing her hind legs.  ナンバー1女性カピバラ。肛門香り腺を絞り。後ろ足を交配することによって歩く

Number one in the female hierarchy squeezes her anal scent glands as she walks by crossing her hind legs. ナンバー1女性カピバラ。肛門香り腺を絞り。後ろ足を交配することによって歩く

Morillo: Capybaras have a glossy nose gland called a morillo which they use to send out a chemical signal. More dominant males have a larger morillo compared to subordinate males. Some female capybaras have a larger morillo than some males so this is not an infallible guide as to the sex of a capybara. The morillo may be a visual signal of dominance.

Male Capybara Morillo.  オスのカピバラのmorillo

Male Capybara Morillo. オスのカピバラのmorillo

During courtship male and female capybaras mark with equal frequency using both glands. During courtship the male may rub his morillo on a female capybara, often on her neck or back, during the mating ritual, while the female may rub her morillo on the neck or back of the male and nibble him on his neck under the chin, something which appears to give the male great pleasure. Video: Capybara Courtship Rituals, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4SxKHZrcRDc

It is tempting to anthropomorphise what is going on in this video between Hinase, a 3-year-old female capybara who has never been pregnant and may never have even mated before, and Toku, the new breeding male (Boss Capy) at Nagasaki Bio Park. They both looked very interested in each other, sniffing each other’s bottoms, marking the bamboo, doing that walk where they cross their legs to squeeze their anal scent glands. At about 5.40 mins Hinase squats in front of Toku as if she would like him to mount her. You can hear her excited vocalisations. Somehow they don’t quite seem to understand what the other wants.  Hinase’s behaviour contrasts with Momiji, a very experienced capybara and mother of at least 3 litters, in my video ” Capybara Mating Rituals at Nagasaki Bio Park長崎バイオパークのカピバラ交尾”.   Momiji is very experienced and immediately squats down in front of Toku in the lordosis position and lets him mate, many times over.

I watched Hinase and Toku many times over the course of a month, and she reminded me very much of a teenage girl in love, but shy and inexperienced, wanting Toku to prove his love for her before letting him mate!

The number one in the female hierarchy rubs her morillo against the anal pocket/genital area, and sniffs it, of a female capybara who has been in a separate enclosure for about 10 weeks while she gave birth. This is her first day back with the herd.  女性のカピバラ(メス階層内ナンバーワン)は、バックカピバラをお待ちしております。 morilloをこすり、ボトムをにおいがする。彼女は出産10週間別々の筐体になっています。バック群れで初日

The number one in the female hierarchy rubs her morillo against the anal pocket/genital area, and sniffs it, of a female capybara who has been in a separate enclosure for about 10 weeks while she gave birth. This is her first day back with the herd. 女性のカピバラ(メス階層内ナンバーワン)は、バックカピバラをお待ちしております。 morilloをこすり、ボトムをにおいがする。彼女は出産10週間別々の筐体になっています。バック群れで初日

Reproduction: Capybaras give birth year round but frequency of mating tends to be more intense at the beginning of the wet season. In the wild females tend to breed when they reach a body weight of 35 to 40 kg, which usually occurs at one and a half to two years of age. Females isolate themselves from the herd to give birth and for a few days thereafter.

Alloparenting.   Mother capybara is nursing two of her own pups. The third pup was born to a capybara who is related to her. Her mother is the grandmother of the mother of the other baby capybara. The pups share the same father.   群れの女性カピバラは関連しています。の赤ちゃんはどんな母親を授乳することができます。ただ、母を所有してい。

Alloparenting. Mother capybara is nursing two of her own pups. The third pup was born to a capybara who is related to her. Her mother is the grandmother of the mother of the other baby capybara. The pups share the same father. 群れの女性カピバラは関連しています。の赤ちゃんはどんな母親を授乳することができます。ただ、母を所有してい。

Age of sexual maturity averages 15 months. Litter size depends in part on the age of the mother (it peaks when the mother is 4 – 5 years old) and averages 4 – 7 pups, however smaller numbers of pups are not uncommon. Litter size can be as large as 8 pups. Gestation varies between 147 – 156 days. Female capybaras give birth synchronously (often within a two-week period) and communally nurse the young (called alloparenting) meaning that a baby capybara may suckle from any lactating female. The number of teats a female capybara has varies from 10 – 12 (5 – 6 pairs).

Estrus: The average duration of the estrus cycle is 7.5 days. The receptive period lasts just 8 hours. This very short period of sexual receptivity appears to help dominant males have exclusive access to females as it is very unlikely that two females will be receptive at the same time, thus allowing the dominant male a greater chance of mating with the receptive female. Capybaras produce no external physical signs of being in estrus. During estrus, the female becomes receptive to the male and copulation usually takes place in water. The female moves in and out of the water, followed by the male, until she demonstrates receptivity by adopting the lordosis position. The male initiates courtship by scent marking and sniffing the female’s sexual organ. The dominant male will mate more frequently than the subordinate males, but the total number of matings by subordinate males is greater than for each dominant male. The short estrus cycle favours the dominant male by reducing sperm competition.

Male capybara sniffs female capybaras anal glands. The male capybara in this photo was much more interested in the female than the tasty watermelon which was on offer.   オスカピバラ、女性のカピバラ肛門香り腺におい。

Male capybara sniffs female capybaras anal glands. The male capybara in this photo was much more interested in the female than the tasty watermelon which was on offer. オスカピバラ、女性のカピバラ肛門香り腺におい。

Video: Capybara Mating Rituals: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUDXrnv9B-w

Capybara Pups at Birth: Capybaras are born precocial, with their eyes open and covered with fur. They are capable of moving shortly after birth and eating solid food within a few days of birth although they continue to drink their mother’s or any lactating female’s milk. The pups are weaned at approximately 16 weeks of age. The average weight of a pup born in the wild is 1.5 kg (about 3lbs), although pups born in captivity may weigh 2 kg (about 4 lbs).

Lifestyle: Capybaras are diurnal by nature, but many have become nocturnal in the wild to avoid being hunted by humans and predators. Capybaras are most active during the afternoon and night.

Predators: include Jaguar, Puma, Caiman (in water) and the Anaconda.  A Jaguar has to be within 3 feet of a capybara to have a chance of a successful attack.

The young are also attacked by snakes such as the Boa Constrictor, crab eating foxes, small cats and birds such as black vultures and the caracara. However humans pose the greatest threat to capybaras through hunting, both legal and illegal, and through habitat loss. Close to urban areas they also fall prey to packs of feral dogs.

Disease: Capybaras are resilient animals and in the wild the main cause of death is not disease, but rather predation, old age or malnutrition. Although they may carry a wide range of parasites, including ticks, and other diseases, they appear to be largely resistant to the effect of these.

Sun: In the wild capybaras are of course outside all day. Some pet capybaras have had severe bone problems as a result of not getting enough exposure to the sun because they were kept inside the house. It is essential that capybaras spend time outside every day, at least 6-8 hours, additionally in most parts of the USA it is recommended that broad spectrum lighting be placed in the indoor resting area in an overlapping pattern, as close to the pet as deemed safe;  and that a fresh bulb replace the used bulb every 6 months.

Stress: capybaras are susceptible to stress and chronic stress will undermine their health. They experience a number of behavioural and physiological responses to stress. Capybaras can be highly stressed by changes in their environment.

Capybaras Are Very Affectionate. Mother is Nuzzled By 5 Month Old Son. カピバラ非常に愛情。赤ちゃんニブル母

Diet: Capybaras are herbivores and their diet in their natural habitat consists of grasses, aquatic plants, sedges and bark. 70% of the capybaras diet in the wild consists of grasses and sedges. Capybaras spend 31% of the day grazing during the wet season and 42% during the dry season. It is essential that captive capybaras follow a diet that replicates as closely as possible their natural diet in the wild, and for which their digestive system (hindgut fermentation) has evolved over millions of years. They are particularly susceptible to sugars and carbohydrates.

Fruit is not part of the natural diet of a capybara. Eating fruit is potentially harmful and has been linked to liver and heart problems. Eating fruit can also cause diarrhoea leading to death. There is a lot of misinformation on the subject of capybara diet on the Internet. Put simply – Fruit Should Not Be Fed to Capybaras.

“What Should I Feed My Pet Capybara?”: https://capybaraworld.wordpress.com/2013/02/11/what-should-i-feed-my-pet-capybara/

Capybara Teeth. Capybara Yawns.  カピバラ歯。カピバラのあくび。

Capybara Teeth. Capybara Yawns. カピバラ歯。カピバラのあくび。

Capybara Teeth: Capybara’s, like horses and rabbits, teeth keep on growing throughout their life. These are known as hypsodont teeth.  This adaptation extends the life of the teeth and therefore the life of the animal. They are able to reduce the plants they eat to very small particles which aids the absorption of nutrients.  Capybara teeth are razor sharp.

Capybaras often chew on stones, bark or twigs to keep their teeth healthy:    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HXYTs5VewHs

Seawater: Capybaras have a low tolerance for brackish water (salt water).

14 month old female Capybara Eating Her Cecotropes. を食べる

14 month old female Capybara Eating Her Cecotropes. cecotropesを食べる

Cecotrophy: 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. Capybaras most often practice cecotrophy in the early morning hours when protein content is highest. This type of reingestion to obtain more nutrients is similar to the chewing of cud in cattle.

Evolution: Caviomorph rodents are one of the most noteworthy groups of mammals in South America. Isolated for more than 30 million years, they have given rise to two giant rodents: Phoberomys from about 6 million years ago, which probably weighed more than 400 kg, and Josephoartigasia Monesi from about 2.5 million years ago which weighed about 1000 kg.

The ancestors of today’s caviomorphs probably came to South America from Africa by raft about 41 million years ago. During the Pleistocene – Holocene period (2.5 Ma to recent) capybaras (Neochoerus and Hydrochoerus) ranged from southern North America to central Argentina. About 3.5 million years ago, capybara dispersed to North America across the Panamanian land bridge. Neochoerus Pinckneyi is an extinct Capybara species that lived in the southern half of North America. Fossil remains have been found in Florida, South Carolina, Texas, Arizona and Central America. It is thought to have weighed about 200 lbs, making it approximately twice as large as Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris (modern capybara). Fossil remains in North America suggest it lived about 500,000 years ago and became extinct about 11,000 years ago.

Capybaras That Are Used to Humans Love to Be Petted.  カピバラ撫でするのが大好き。それらは人間に使用されている場合

Capybaras That Are Used to Humans Love to Be Petted. カピバラ撫でするのが大好き。それらは人間に使用されている場合

Conservation Status: although Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris as a whole is not threatened with extinction in some places populations have disappeared. Capybaras in north-eastern Brazil and the Chaco Seco region of Argentina are under threat due to hunting by man. In the Llanos of Venezuela and Colombia populations are also at risk and local extinctions are possible.

Common name:       Capybara
Scientific name:       Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris
Kingdom:                  Animalia
Phylum:                    Chordata
Class:                         Mammalia
Order:                        Rodentia
Family:                      Caviidae
Genus:                       Hydrochoerus

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Capybara Facts and Information (Hydrochoerus Hydrochaeris). More detailed version:

Adult Female Capybara, 6 years old.  成人女性カピバラ。 6歳

Adult Female Capybara, 6 years old. 成人女性カピバラ。 6歳

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.

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.

6 Week Old Baby Capybara Sleeping.   6週齢の赤ちゃんカピバラは眠る

6 Week Old Baby Capybara Sleeping. 6週齢の赤ちゃんカピバラは眠る

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.

WN 40% crop best sparse hair 28 Dec 2016 070

Capybara hair is very sparse. It is also very coarse, although softer in babies and very young capybaras. As capybaras are semiaquatic and spend long periods in water it is necessary that their hair dries quickly. In this photo I was petting an eight months old capybara so her hair rose as she was enjoying the experience and you can clearly see the skin underneath.

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 hairless 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.

    The Vestigial Tail of a Capybara (by the little red arrow).   カピバラの痕跡尾。 (赤い矢印で)

The Vestigial Tail of a Capybara (by the little red arrow). カピバラの痕跡尾。 (赤い矢印で)

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.

Capybaras are very agile in water and can swim very fast. They can spend long hours in water, in part to thermoregulate (maintain a lower body temperature) as their sweat glands are not well developed. They can remain under water for up to 5 minutes.

Male Capybara Surrounded by Adoring Female Capybaras Nibbling Him and Vying for His Attention.  オスカピバラは、女性のカピバラを絶賛に囲まれています。

Male Capybara Surrounded by Adoring Female Capybaras Nibbling Him and Vying for His Attention. オスカピバラは、女性のカピバラを絶賛に囲まれています。

Most activities are located close to the water hole. Capybaras always rest close to water. The distance from the main grazing areas to the nearest pond is never more than 300 m. Most mating takes place in water. Capybaras defecate in water for preference, but will also defecate on land often to mark territory and send out a chemical signal.

Territory and Habitat: The average size of territory is between 5 – 16 hectares, though can be much larger if vegetation is sparse. The capybara’s territory must provide sufficient resources to ensure survival under widely differing seasonal conditions. The size of territory and the availability of water and food resources determines the size of the herd. The home territory must include a water hole, bushy scrub, patches of higher ground on which to avoid flooding at the height of the wet season and low-lying areas of grass. Bushy scrub is crucial in the wet season as it provides essential food and shelter. Bushy scrub is also essential for reproductive success as the females go off into the bushy scrub to give birth in part so that they are not visible to predators. Low-lying areas of grass, being closer to the water table, are essential to sustain the herd in the dry season.

When threatened a capybara will usually take to the water as it seeks refuge. Capybaras can remain under water for up to 5 minutes. They can also sleep under water leaving their nose above the waterline in order to breathe. Their nostrils, eyes and ears are all located on the top of their head so they can remain submerged and almost completely hidden with just their nose, eyes and ears protruding above the water.

Lifespan: In the wild their lifespan averages 8 to 10 years. The oldest capybara kept in captivity lived to be 15 years old at Adelaide Zoo, in Australia.

Top speed on land:   Capybaras can run very fast with a top speed of about 22 mph (35 km an hour).  They can run as fast as a small horse. They are very agile on land, although they are most at home in water.

Capybaras running in the wild

Capybaras running in the wild

Capybaras live in Herds, which vary in size. The size of the herd is related to the availability of critical resources like water and forage. Average group size is between 5 – 15 adults, though groups as large as 60 adults have been reported. There is no advantage in having a larger group size with regard to shared vigilance for predators and reproductive success. In the Amazon rainforests of Peru some capybaras live in groups of 2 – 3 (one male and 2 females). Herds are hierarchical with a dominant male. Females in the group are thought to be related. The benefits of living in a group include protection from predators, access to mates, alloparenting (females share nursing and caring for the pups), and kin selection.

Capybaras stand on their hind legs and use their razor sharp teeth to bite their opponent when they are fighting for the dominant place in the hierarchy. Usually the subordinate capybara will run away rather than risk injury.   カピバラは戦うために後ろ足で立つ。鋭い歯相手を噛ま。下位のカピバラは通常逃げる。けがのリスクを望んでいない

Capybaras stand on their hind legs and use their razor sharp teeth to bite their opponent when they are fighting for the dominant place in the hierarchy. Usually the subordinate capybara will run away rather than risk injury. カピバラは戦うために後ろ足で立つ。鋭い歯相手を噛ま。下位のカピバラは通常逃げる。けがのリスクを望んでいない

In this photo of two male capybaras fighting in the wild, the male capybara on the right is challenging the capybara on the left for dominance of the herd. On this occasion the existing dominant capybara succeeds in chasing the challenger off his territory

In this photo of two male capybaras fighting in the wild, the male capybara on the right is challenging the capybara on the left for dominance of the herd. On this occasion the existing dominant capybara succeeds in chasing the challenger off his territory

Hierarchy:   The most obvious feature of capybara society is the dominance hierarchy among males. The dominant male achieves this status through ritualised aggressive posturing which seldom leads to a fight as subordinate capybaras prefer not to fight and will usually run away to avoid injury. The dominant male is very often the largest male. The main advantage in being number one in the male hierarchy is access to receptive females. Female capybaras are more receptive to the dominant male than to the subordinate males. In the wild a female dominance hierarchy has not been observed. Hierarchy amongst females in captivity is primarily associated with feeding rights, i.e. access to the most food and the tastiest food, and can lead to fights.

Dominant males tolerate subordinate males in their herds as subordinate males play an important role in defending the territory by being vigilant, looking out for danger/predators. Subordinate males make more alarm calls than the dominant male and the females, and they are found on the fringes of the herd.

Capybara Eyesight: capybara’s rely more on their excellent hearing and sense of smell. Their eyesight is good but not outstanding. Capybaras they do not have good night vision.

Communication:   Communication is very important for capybaras as they live in a closed social unit with a complex social structure. Communication is by vocalisation and by chemical signalling, via two glands in both sexes, one on the nose called a morillo and via the anal glands.

Capybaras have outstanding hearing. They also communicate in the infrasonic and ultrasonic sound frequencies. Infrasonic refers to sounds at frequencies below those audible to the human ear, usually below 20 Hz. Ultrasonic refers to sounds above those audible to the human ear, usually above 20,000 Hz.

Capybaras have an excellent sense of smell. They can sense water from at least a distance of 1 mile away from the water source.

Vocalisations:   Capybaras make at least seven different sounds that appear to be group specific (i.e. slightly different in each herd). Capybaras also appear to have a slightly different call for each member of the herd. Capybaras vocalise frequently, with baby capybaras emitting a characteristic higher pitched squeak or chuckle perhaps to maintain contact among themselves and with their mother and other females. Keeping in touch with the herd is a matter of life or death for most capybaras in order to avoid predators. If there is a threat the adults may make a circle facing outwards around the young. Capybara’s vocalisations range from contented chuckles, through barks (used as a warning, a threat or to express excitement), plaintive squeaks, clicks and ultrasonic emissions inaudible to the human ear that can be felt as a vibration if you are next to the capybara.

The sound a capybara mother makes as her babies suckle is truly magical. She goes into a trance like 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:

The sound of a herd of capybara singing in unison is quite magical:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9AbB3aufAcU

Female capybaras rub and nibble the male capybara and vocalise:    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mhDr6ocRRMI

4 year old female capybara calls. After a short while the male capybara appears. The female rubs her morillo against the anal pocket/genital area of the male and marks by urinating. The male capybara rubs his morillo against the anal pocket/genital area of another female:    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g9z_1fXsq2k

Number one in the female hierarchy squeezes her anal scent glands as she walks by crossing her hind legs.  ナンバー1女性カピバラ。肛門香り腺を絞り。後ろ足を交配することによって歩く

Number one in the female hierarchy squeezes her anal scent glands as she walks by crossing her hind legs. ナンバー1女性カピバラ。肛門香り腺を絞り。後ろ足を交配することによって歩く

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 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 acceded 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 lookouts, and make warning calls. These subordinate male capybaras stay on the periphery of the herd.

For more information about the sounds capybaras make, and links to videos of capybaras calls, please see my blog:

https://capybaraworld.wordpress.com/2015/05/30/the-sounds-capybaras-make-capybaras-vocalisations-calls-and-barks-%e3%82%b5%e3%82%a6%e3%83%b3%e3%83%89%e3%81%af%e3%80%81%e3%82%ab%e3%83%94%e3%83%90%e3%83%a9%e3%83%a1%e3%82%a4%e3%82%af%e3%80%82/

Scent Marking:   Scent marking is the most common type of social interaction amongst capybaras in the wild. Scent marking can convey a wide spectrum of information, including the marking of territory to defend limited resources, like the water hole, and as a mechanism for social cohesion by indicating group membership and individual identity. One of the main purposes of scent marking, particularly using the morillo, is thought to be to maintain social status, i.e. to maintain the strict social hierarchy in males. A female will often defecate in close proximity to a male, thereby sending out a chemical signal, to show her interest in him. Female capybaras often mark just after the dominant male, possibly to show their association with him as well as to show their membership of the group. The role of scent marking in the maintenance of social status cannot be overestimated. In rodents in general the most common function of scent marking appears to be status signalling i.e. the scent marking behaviour and the chemistry of the secretion are related to social dominance.

Scent marking behaviour in capybaras is more common in males than females, but during courtship males and females mark with equal frequency and use both glands. A typical marking sequence for males involves rubbing the morrillo against a shrub or twig then straddling the plant, pressing the anal pocket onto it and sometimes simultaneously urinating on the plant.

Scent marking behaviour in capybaras is more common in males than females, but during courtship males and females mark with equal frequency and use both glands. A typical marking sequence for males involves rubbing the morrillo against a shrub or twig then straddling the plant, pressing the anal pocket onto it and sometimes simultaneously urinating on the plant.

As capybaras in the wild are often active during the night, to avoid predators including man, chemical communication is especially safe and effective.

Courtship Behaviour. Male capybara (with back to camera) nuzzles female capybara under the chin.   求愛行動。(カメラに背を)男性カピバラはあごの下、女性カピバラニブル。

Courtship Behaviour. Male capybara (with back to camera) nuzzles female capybara under the chin. 求愛行動。(カメラに背を)男性カピバラはあごの下、女性カピバラニブル。

Male and female capybaras both have anal glands which they use to mark territory. Capybaras do a characteristic walk crossing their hind legs as they walk to release scent from their anal gland. A typical marking sequence for males and females involves rubbing the morillo against a shrub or twig (or in the case of pet capybaras against a familiar object or a favoured human), then straddling the plant or familiar object (the familiar object might be a shoe or cushion) and pressing the anal pocket onto it, and sometimes simultaneously urinating on it. During this process hairs from the anal pocket are detached and left as a marker. Dominant males mark more frequently than subordinate males.

The anal glands in both male and female capybaras are located beside and below the anus, in a chamber which contains the urogenital and anal pocket openings. The male anal pocket is like an open pouch and contains very short hairs which are clearly visible. The female anal pocket is a relatively deep chamber which opens through a constricted neck. Larger more dominant females produce a greater quantity of secretions. The chemical components of both male and female secretions vary from individual to individual, allowing other capybaras to recognise which capybara deposited the secretion.

It is tempting to anthropomorphise what is going on in this video between Hinase, a 3-year-old female capybara who has never been pregnant and may never have even mated before, and Toku, the new breeding male (Boss Capy) at Nagasaki Bio Park. They both looked very interested in each other, sniffing each other’s bottoms, marking the bamboo, doing that walk where they cross their legs to squeeze their anal scent glands. At about 5.40 mins Hinase squats in front of Toku as if she would like him to mount her. You can hear her excited vocalisations. Somehow they don’t quite seem to understand what the other wants.  Hinase’s behaviour contrasts with Momiji, a very experienced capybara and mother of at least 3 litters, in my video ” Capybara Mating Rituals at Nagasaki Bio Park長崎バイオパークのカピバラ交尾”.   Momiji is very experienced and immediately squats down in front of Toku in the lordosis position and lets him mate, many times over.

I watched Hinase and Toku many times over the course of a month, and she reminded me very much of a teenage girl in love, but shy and inexperienced, wanting Toku to prove his love for her before letting him mate!

The number one in the female hierarchy rubs her morillo against the anal pocket/genital area, and sniffs it, of a female capybara who has been in a separate enclosure for about 10 weeks while she gave birth. This is her first day back with the herd.  女性のカピバラ(メス階層内ナンバーワン)は、バックカピバラをお待ちしております。 morilloをこすり、ボトムをにおいがする。彼女は出産10週間別々の筐体になっています。バック群れで初日

The number one in the female hierarchy rubs her morillo against the anal pocket/genital area, and sniffs it, of a female capybara who has been in a separate enclosure for about 10 weeks while she gave birth. This is her first day back with the herd. 女性のカピバラ(メス階層内ナンバーワン)は、バックカピバラをお待ちしております。 morilloをこすり、ボトムをにおいがする。彼女は出産10週間別々の筐体になっています。バック群れで初日

Morillo:   Capybaras have a glossy nose gland called a morillo which they use to to send out a chemical signal by marking territory etc. The size of the morillo increases with age up to 25 months after which any increase in size is not related to age. More dominant males have a larger morillo compared to subordinate males. Males with larger testes and higher levels of testosterone have larger morillos. Some female capybaras have a larger morillo than some males so this is not an infallible guide as to the sex of a capybara. The morillo may be a visual signal of dominance.

Male Capybara Morillo.  オスのカピバラのmorillo

Male Capybara Morillo. オスのカピバラのmorillo

During courtship male and female capybaras mark with equal frequency using both glands. During courtship the male may rub his morillo on a female capybara, often on her neck or back, during the mating ritual, while the female may rub her morillo on the neck or back of the male and nibble him on his neck under the chin, something which appears to give the male great pleasure. Video: Capybara Courtship Rituals, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4SxKHZrcRDc

Reproduction:   Capybaras give birth year round but frequency of mating tends to be more intense at the beginning of the wet season. In the wild females tend to breed when they reach a body weight of 35 to 40 kg, which usually occurs at one and a half to two years of age. Females isolate themselves from the herd to give birth and for a few days thereafter.

Alloparenting.   Mother capybara is nursing two of her own pups. The third pup was born to a capybara who is related to her. Her mother is the grandmother of the mother of the other baby capybara. The pups share the same father.   群れの女性カピバラは関連しています。の赤ちゃんはどんな母親を授乳することができます。ただ、母を所有してい。

Alloparenting. Mother capybara is nursing two of her own pups. The third pup was born to a capybara who is related to her. Her mother is the grandmother of the mother of the other baby capybara. The pups share the same father. 群れの女性カピバラは関連しています。の赤ちゃんはどんな母親を授乳することができます。ただ、母を所有してい。

Age of sexual maturity averages 15 months (influenced by local climate and resource availability), but may be younger in the wild. Female capybaras reach puberty between 10 and 12 months of age. Litter size depends in part on the age of the mother (it peaks when the mother is 4 – 5 years old) and averages 4 – 7 pups, however smaller numbers of pups are not uncommon. Litter size can be as large as 8 pups. Gestation varies between 147 – 156 days. Female capybaras give birth synchronously (often within a two-week period) and communally nurse the young (called alloparenting) meaning that a baby capybara may suckle from any lactating female. The number of teats a female capybara has varies from 10 – 12 (5 – 6 pairs).

Reproductive suppression has been observed in various social rodents, and appears to be related to alloparenting (the co-operative rearing of young). In the case of capybaras not all females in a herd are reproductively active; reproductive suppression of subordinate females in the presence of the dominant female has been observed in captive capybaras.

Capybara Mating.  カピバラの交尾

Capybara Mating. カピバラの交尾

Capybaras are unusual in that, despite being the largest rodent, the size of their testicles is one of the smallest among rodents as a percentage of their body weight. This suggests that there is low sperm competition among capybara males. Capybaras appear to invest more in the production of testosterone than in the production of sperm, which might be an adaptation designed to maintain a strict dominance hierarchy year round. The very short period of sexual receptivity (8 hours) also appears to help dominant males have exclusive access to females as it is very unlikely that two females will be receptive at the same time, thus allowing the dominant male a greater chance of mating with the receptive female.

Estrus:   The average duration of the estrus cycle is 7.5 days. The receptive period lasts just 8 hours. Capybaras produce no external physical signs of being in estrus. During estrus, the female becomes receptive to the male and copulation usually takes place in water. The female moves in and out of the water, followed by the male, until she demonstrates receptivity by adopting the lordosis position. The male initiates courtship by scent marking and sniffing the female’s sexual organ. The male will mount the female many times over the course of an hour or more, and ultimately ejaculate for about 3 seconds. The dominant male will mate more frequently than the subordinate males, but the total number of matings by subordinate males is greater than for each dominant male. The short estrus cycle favours the dominant male by reducing sperm competition.

Male capybara sniffs female capybaras anal glands. The male capybara in this photo was much more interested in the female than the tasty watermelon which was on offer.   オスカピバラ、女性のカピバラ肛門香り腺におい。

Male capybara sniffs female capybaras anal glands. The male capybara in this photo was much more interested in the female than the tasty watermelon which was on offer. オスカピバラ、女性のカピバラ肛門香り腺におい。

Video: Capybara Mating Rituals: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUDXrnv9B-w

Capybara Pups at Birth:   Capybaras are born precocial, with their eyes open and covered with fur. They are capable of moving shortly after birth and eating solid food within a few days of birth although they continue to drink their mother’s or any lactating female’s milk. The pups are weaned at approximately 16 weeks of age. The average weight of a pup born in the wild is 1.5 kg (about 3lbs), although pups born in captivity may weigh 2 kg (about 4 lbs).

Lifestyle:   Capybaras are diurnal by nature, but many have become nocturnal in the wild to avoid being hunted by humans and predators. Capybaras are most active during the afternoon and night.

Predators:   include Jaguar, Puma, Caiman (in water) and the Anaconda.  A Jaguar has to be within 3 feet of a capybara to have a chance of a successful attack.

The young are also attacked by snakes such as the Boa Constrictor, crab eating foxes, small wildcats and birds such as black vultures and the caracara. However humans pose the greatest threat to capybaras through hunting, both legal and illegal, and through habitat loss. Close to urban areas they also fall prey to packs of feral dogs.

Disease: Capybaras are resilient animals and in the wild the main cause of death is not disease, but rather predation, old age or malnutrition. Although they may carry a wide range of parasites, including ticks, and other diseases, they appear to be largely resistant to the effect of these.

Scabies: Scabies (a contagious skin condition caused by tiny mites which burrow into the skin, caused by the mite Sarcoptes scabiei) is highly contagious and must be treated.Ivermectin is recommended to control ticks and for the treatment of scabies. Symptoms of scabies include constant scratching and localised loss of hair.

Scurvy: Capybaras lack the enzyme that converts glucose to ascorbic acid (vitamin C), therefore vitamin C is an essential component of their diet. It is found in many guinea pig feed products. In the wild capybaras are able to find sufficient vitamin C in their natural diet. The symptoms of scurvy include listlessness, bleeding gums and nose, loss of teeth, brittle bones and eventually death.

Sun: In the wild capybaras are of course outside all day. Some pet capybaras have had severe bone problems as a result of not getting enough exposure to the sun because they were kept inside the house. It is essential that capybaras spend time outside every day, at least 6-8 hours, additionally in most parts of the USA it is recommended that broad spectrum lighting be placed in the indoor resting area in an overlapping pattern, as close to the pet as deemed safe;  and that a fresh bulb replace the used bulb every 6 months.

Stress:   Capybaras are susceptible to stress and chronic stress will undermine their health. They experience a number of behavioural and physiological responses to stress. Symptoms of stress include changes in behaviour such as permanent vigilance or increased signs of alertness, a decrease in exploratory behaviour, an increase in aggressive behaviour and a reduction in the behavioural repertoire. Heart and breathing rates increase, glucose metabolism increases, the effects of which if long-lasting can damage the brain. Capybaras can be highly stressed by changes in their environment.

Capybaras Are Very Affectionate. Mother is Nuzzled By 5 Month Old Son. カピバラ非常に愛情。赤ちゃんニブル母

Capybaras Are Very Affectionate. Mother is Nuzzled By 5 Month Old Son. カピバラ非常に愛情。赤ちゃんニブル母

Diet:   Capybaras are herbivores and their diet in their natural habitat consists of grasses, aquatic plants, sedges and bark. 70% of the capybaras’ diet in the wild consists of grasses and sedges. Capybaras spend 31% of the day grazing during the wet season and 42% during the dry season. It is essential that captive capybaras follow a diet that replicates as closely as possible their natural diet in the wild, and for which their digestive system (hindgut fermentation) has evolved over millions of years. They are particularly susceptible to sugars and carbohydrates.

Fruit is not part of the natural diet of a capybara. Eating fruit is potentially harmful and has been linked to liver and heart problems. Eating fruit can also cause diarrhoea leading to death. There is a lot of misinformation on the subject of capybara diet on the Internet. Put simply – Fruit Should Not Be Fed to Capybaras.

“What Should I Feed My Pet Capybara?”: https://capybaraworld.wordpress.com/2013/02/11/what-should-i-feed-my-pet-capybara/

Capybara Teeth. Capybara Yawns.  カピバラ歯。カピバラのあくび。

Capybara Teeth. Capybara Yawns. カピバラ歯。カピバラのあくび。

Capybara Teeth:    Another striking feature of capybara is their unpaired, ever-growing cheek teeth whose very complicated occlusal surface design changes throughout the capybara’s life. Capybaras like horses and rabbits have high crowned teeth, known as hypsodont teeth, an adaptation to extend the life of teeth and therefore the life of the animal. In these teeth the roots delay their development and the crown keeps on growing throughout the life of the animal. In capybaras the occlusal morphology of their cheek teeth is so peculiar that a special nomenclature (system of names) had to be developed to describe them! This very intricate occlusal surface design grows more complex throughout the capybara’s life. They are able to reduce the plants they eat to very small particles which aids the absorption of nutrients.   Capybara teeth are razor sharp.

Capybaras often chew on stones, bark or twigs to keep their teeth healthy:    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HXYTs5VewHs

Seawater:   Capybaras have a low tolerance for brackish water (salt water).

14 month old female Capybara Eating Her Cecotropes. cecotropesを食べる

14 month old female Capybara Eating Her Cecotropes. cecotropesを食べる

Capybaras Are Unusual in Several Ways:   To quote from the book “Capybara, Biology, Use and Conservation of an Exceptional Neotropical Species”: “Capybaras are not merely unusual, they are extraordinary … Their biology is exceptional”. Other ways in which capybaras are unusual include: they are the only rodents with subcutaneous sweat glands; they appear to have a very strong immune system allowing them to resist many parasitic infections; they are unique among rodents in having a nasal gland, the morillo; with further study other unusual aspects of this extraordinary animal may come to light.

Cecotrophy:   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 food is rich in protein. It 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.)

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.

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

Evolution:   Caviomorph rodents are one of the most noteworthy groups of mammals in South America. Isolated for more than 30 million years, they have given rise to several extraordinary rodents including the pacas, cavies, vizcachas, agoutis, as well as 2 giants: Phoberomys, from the late Miocene (6 Ma; mega annum = million years) which probably weighed more than 400 kg, and Josephoartigasia Monesi probably from the Pleistocene (2.5 Ma) at about 1000 kg. Capybaras are undoubtedly related to the living cavies and their extinct relatives.

The ancestors of today’s caviomorphs probably came to South America from Africa by raft during the early Eocene (about 41 Ma). During the Pleistocene – Holocene period (2.5 Ma to recent) capybaras (Neochoerus and Hydrochoerus) ranged from southern North America to central Argentina. About 3.5 million years ago, capybara dispersed to North America across the Panamanian land bridge. Neochoerus Pinckneyi is an extinct Capybara species that lived in the southern half of North America. Fossil remains have been found in Florida, South Carolina, Texas, Arizona and Central America. It is thought to have weighed about 200 lbs, making it approximately twice as large as Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris (modern capybara). Fossil remains in North America suggest it lived about 500,000 years ago and became extinct about 11,000 years ago.

Gigantism in Caviomorphs is more common than in other rodents and had reached its peak by the end of the Miocene, 6 Ma. Capybaras in particular were already large when they were first recognised, but continued to increase in size, peaking during the Plio-Pleistocene (5.3 Ma to 10 Ky). Examples of this are Chapalmatherium (200 kg) and Neochoerus (110 kg). It appears from the fossil record that the basic biological characteristics of capybaras were attained before the late Miocene.

Capybaras That Are Used to Humans Love to Be Petted.  カピバラ撫でするのが大好き。それらは人間に使用されている場合

Capybaras That Are Used to Humans Love to Be Petted. カピバラ撫でするのが大好き。それらは人間に使用されている場合

Conservation status: Although Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris as a whole is not threatened with extinction in some places populations have disappeared. Capybaras in north-eastern Brazil and the Chaco Seco region of Argentina are under threat due to hunting by man. In the Llanos of Venezuela and Colombia populations are also at risk and local extinctions are possible.

The importance of capybaras: The authors of “Capybara, biology, use and conservation of an Exceptional Neotropical Species” state: “It is arguably the most important native mammalian herbivore in the ecology of the wetlands and savannas of the subcontinent”.

Common name:       Capybara
Scientific name:       Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris
Kingdom:                  Animalia
Phylum:                    Chordata
Class:                         Mammalia
Order:                        Rodentia
Family:                      Caviidae
Genus:                       Hydrochoerus

I would like to recommend the book: “Capybara, Biology, Use and Conservation of an Exceptional Neotropical Species” edited by Moreira, Ferraz, Herrera and MacDonald. Published by Springer, as the best source of accurate information about the capybara.

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A Day in the Life Of a Pet Capybara ペットカピバラの寿命デイ

Romeo Napping in the Sun

Romeo Napping in the Sun

As recounted by Marvin Reeder (with a few interjections by me) who lives with Romeo and Tuff’n, and his wife Elizabeth and Yellow Cat.   マーヴィンリーダー(と私)で。マーヴィンはロミオ、Tuff’nとその妻エリザベス猫と暮らし

Tuff'n waiting on the bed

Tuff’n waiting on the bed. ベッドの上で待機しTuff’n

The morning starts somewhere between 5 or 6 AM. The capybaras will awake with a trip to the potty pan and chuckle their way into the kitchen for their morning milk. Then it’s back to the bedroom until 7 or 8 AM, stopping off for a bite of hay or guinea pig food and perhaps another visit to the potty room.

Tuffin naps

Tuff’n naps

The capybaras rouse themselves with a great deal of yawning, stretching and chuckling to make sure you wake up and to show that they are ready for their maize (a type of corn that is not sweet, which they get in winter to supplement their diet).   When the Capys want their morning corn they eep plaintively, pointing their noses at the refrigerator, where they know their corn is kept.   The eating of the corn takes about half an hour, after which they enjoy a bowl of warm water and then it’s time for the mid-morning nap in the sun which lasts until noon or 2 PM, and is only interrupted by the occasional trip to the potty pan and the occasional sparring match.

This video shows Romeo and Tuff’n getting out of their spa as their dinner arrives in the back garden. Romeo and Tuff’n adore their maize, and demand to be fed earlier and earlier. First it was 10 o’clock in the morning, then it was moved back to 8 o’clock in the morning, then 6 o’clock in the morning, then midnight and now they expect to be fed at 9 PM on the dot; capybaras like most animals have an excellent sense of time. Tuff’n has even learned to say “corn”! However in the presence of the camera and the spotlights he was tongue tied. The oil in the maize has brought a sheen to their coats.

Romeo sunbathing on the deck.  ロミオ日光浴

Romeo sunbathing on the deck. ロミオ日光浴

Romeo and Tuff’n are now ready to go to one of their many favourite parks and they do not like to be kept waiting.  If they are not loaded up to go to the park they get quite frustrated and begin to protest and cause mischief. They will bring their leashes over to you, as a gentle hint, but if the delay continues they begin to play fight or defecate in inappropriate places.     Romeo and Tuff’n go to the park to eat grass every day, rain or shine, for 2 to 3 hours.

Romeo and Tuff'n wait patiently to go to the park to graze and be petted by all the park visitors who love to meet them.   公園に行くことを辛抱強く待ちます。草を食べること

Romeo and Tuff’n wait patiently to go to the park to graze and be petted by all the park visitors who love to meet them. 公園に行くことを辛抱強く待ちます。草を食べること

Muddy Romeo at the Park. Romeo loves to roll in the mud. He also loves standing on his hind legs and rubbing his morillo on his leash.

Muddy Romeo at the Park. Romeo loves to roll in the mud. He also loves standing on his hind legs and rubbing his morillo on his leash.

Sometimes Romeo and Tuff’n go to Lake Mead where they love to swim in the huge lake and eat aquatic plants.

Tuff'n at Lake Mead

Tuff’n at Lake Mead

When they arrive home their first stop is a trip to the potty pan for a giant pooh, unless of course an accident has happened in the car, for which Marvin and Elizabeth are well prepared with a tarpaulin and several incontinence mats.

This is followed by a bath in warm water after which Romeo does a little dance of joy as Marvin sprays him. Tuff’n is still apprehensive of the jet of warm water.

Video: After an afternoon grazing in the park and rolling in the damp, soft earth Romeo and Tuff’n love to play in the spray.   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N81nT9Z_UWc&list=UU6vvD9LkAvhQzItm1kCtCfg

Romeo and Tuff’n go into the kitchen for their evening milk and sit quietly on a towel waiting for the milk to arrive, facing in opposite directions in case a predator appears. Romeo goes into an almost trancelike state, he is so incredibly calm and patient while he waits for the milk to be prepared.

Romeo and Tuff'n wait patiently for their milk In the kitchen. They face in opposite directions so they can look out for predators.  キッチンで。ミルクロメオTuff'nを辛抱強く待ちます。反対方向に直面しています。捕食者を探す

Romeo and Tuff’n wait patiently for their milk In the kitchen. They face in opposite directions so they can look out for predators. キッチンで。ミルクロメオTuff’nを辛抱強く待ちます。反対方向に直面しています。捕食者を探す

And then it’s time for a swim.

Romeo, Tuff'n and Marvin in the pool. The pool has been specially treated so the water is not harmful to the capybaras.

Romeo, Tuff’n and Marvin in the pool. The pool has been specially treated so the water is not harmful to the capybaras.

Then back to the hay bales and another trip to the potty pan. Occasionally they will take in some television, but most often they will just retire to the bedroom and wait for someone to join them.

The living room! Which has been taken over by Romeo and Tuff’n. The carpet has been ripped up and replaced by hay. There are two large bales of hay for Romeo and Tuff’n to eat. Yellow Cat likes to relax close to the herd. リビングルーム!カピバラルール。カーペットがなくなっています。ヘイ今。食べる干し草の俵2。猫が近くにカピバラになりたがっている。 Photo by Marvin and Elizabeth

Sometimes Romeo waits at the entrance to the bedroom for Elizabeth to arrive. Elizabeth has a mystical ritual which Romeo and Tuff’n love. The lights are turned down and an ambience of peace and serenity ensues. First Romeo is covered with his favourite blanket so that only the tip of his nose is showing. Then Tuff’n, who until recently did not like having his head covered, is covered with his favourite blanket. Elizabeth then communes silently with each of them nose to nose and sometimes joins them on the bed. This is a quite magical scene.

Elizabeth Communes with Romeo

Elizabeth Communes with Romeo

When Marvin comes to bed Romeo puts his head on Marvin’s shoulder and snuggles up beside him, as close as he can get. Tuff’n starts the night at the end of the bed but very often Elizabeth awakes to find Tuff’n snuggling in her arms.

Marvin, Romeo, Tuff’n and Yellow Cat. Photo by Elizabeth

The capybaras tend to sleep most of the night except for several trips to the potty pan. After each trip Marvin or Elizabeth will get up and empty and clean the potty pan.

“Around 3:00 am, I heard a noise outside followed by a low “bark” in the living room, I turned on the light, and found Romeo guarding the boys ( our nephews). He is very protective and loves them.” ロミオは甥を守る。一晩滞在。マービンの家に. Photo by Marvin and Elizabeth

“Around 3:00 am, I heard a noise outside followed by a low “bark” in the living room, I turned on the light, and found Romeo guarding the boys ( our nephews). He is very protective and loves them.” ロミオは甥を守る。一晩滞在。マービンの家に. Photo by Marvin and Elizabeth

                                                        ****

Capybaras enjoy a routine. They can tell what time of day it is, and sometimes if their humans have not stayed on schedule they will protest by missing the potty pan or using their teeth to tug on your trouser legs, or by gnawing on their leashes, to remind you that they are not pleased with the service they are experiencing that day.

You will find yourself apologising to the capybaras for making them wait for their dinner because you are cleaning their potty pans:  “Oh I’m sorry. I didn’t realise you were waiting for your milk”, when Marvin, the slaveboy, had been elsewhere cleaning the potty pans and hadn’t noticed that his VIP Romeo was waiting for his milk.

Romeo likes to drink water from the bottle. He is bonded with Elizabeth and Marvin so he may well think he is a human, or at least part human. He loves standing on his hind legs which brings him up to a more human level.  ロミオ人間で接着。多分彼は彼が人間であると考えている。

Romeo likes to drink water from the bottle. He is bonded with Elizabeth and Marvin so he may well think he is a human, or at least part human. He loves standing on his hind legs which brings him up to a more human level. ロミオ人間で接着。多分彼は彼が人間であると考えている。

Capybaras are very high maintenance and demanding!

Capybaras find humans easy to train, as they soon find out!    You may think you are training them, but in reality they are training you. Capybaras are highly intelligent and emotionally very sophisticated. They have excellent memories and never forget, often scheming for several days before coming out with some clever strategy to ensure a situation is turned to their advantage.

They have well thought out strategies to ensure their desires are met. For example, on one occasion while Marvin and Elizabeth were asleep in bed at morning milk time, Tuff’n sat by the potty room door and called plaintively for Romeo. Marvin got up to help direct Tuff’n to Romeo’s location which Marvin assumed would be on the hay bale in the dining room. However, instead of Marvin leading Tuff’n to Romeo on the hay bale, Tuff’n lead Marvin to Romeo sitting on his milk mat in the kitchen waiting for his morning milk! On the way Tuff’n kept looking back at Marvin to make sure he was following.  Tuff’n then sat down right beside Romeo.

Romeo and Tuff’n have a different call for each member of the herd, human or capybara.

Capybaras pooh approximately every 2 hours. You will be emptying the potty pan at least 10 times a day. This can often be a messy, backbreaking procedure. It put my husband right off living with a capybara!

Videos:

Video: After an afternoon grazing in the park and rolling in the damp, soft earth Romeo and Tuff’n love to play in the spray.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N81nT9Z_UWc&list=UU6vvD9LkAvhQzItm1kCtCfg

Video: Marvin wakes Romeo who has been fast asleep, nestling under the bed covers at the bottom of the bed. Romeo knows exactly what Marvin wants him to do but he is enjoying exerting his own authority and not complying with Marvin’s wishes. At about 1.39 minutes you can see the hair rise on Romeo’s neck and back as he really revels in his own power to do what he wants rather than give in to Marvin’s authority.

マーヴィンは、ロミオを覚ます。ロメオは、眠っていた。ロミオはベッドの下に覆われた。ロメオは、不従順を楽しんでいます。ロメオの髪は1.39分で上昇。幸せロメオ。彼はマーヴィンを支配する力を持っています。ロメオはマーヴィンが何を望んでない。

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FKZ-Ut9Feg0

Video:  Romeo and Marvin play a game called “Little Field Mouse” in which Marvin feeds Romeo the choicest pieces of hay, the sweet dried grass flowers. Sometimes they share a flower. Romeo loves the game and it makes them feel very proud and important. To me this is so much more rewarding, playing games in a language, using words and phrases which Romeo understands, than teaching senseless tricks. I am pleased to see that a growing number of animal connoisseurs and aficionados are against teaching animals tricks. Tuff’n provides the vocal accompaniment; you can hear him singing.

Video:  Romeo and Tuff’n enjoy having a bath:   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P3J7Tp8bExE

Video:    Poor little Tuff’n falls in the icy cold wintery swimming pool and calls out plaintively: 

  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_OqRNGv4r0

This video shows Romeo and Tuff’n getting out of their spa as their dinner arrives in the back garden. Romeo and Tuff’n adore their maize, and demand to be fed earlier and earlier. First it was 10 o’clock in the morning, then it was moved back to 8 o’clock in the morning, then 6 o’clock in the morning, then midnight and now they expect to be fed at 9 PM on the dot; capybaras like most animals have an excellent sense of time. Tuff’n has even learned to say “corn”! However in the presence of the camera and the spotlights he was tongue tied. The oil in the maize has brought a sheen to their coats.

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Kiss the Critter, “Cheap Laughs, and Bullying”. Nobody Who Cared about an Animal Could Ever Submit It To a “Kiss the Critter” Event.

Sweet, Gentle, Trusting Capybara

Sweet, Gentle, Trusting Capybara

In the summer of 2012 an animal that I care very deeply about was subjected to a “Kiss the Critter” event. At the time I was heartbroken and horrified. I expressed my concerns very forcibly. I couldn’t watch the video, I was in tears. The animal looked so confused and distressed. How could anyone do this to a sweet, gentle, loving animal.

At one point one of the men smeared his face with lipstick and kissed the animal, covering the animal’s face with lipstick. It was grotesque, and crude and horrible. Nobody who cared about their animal could possibly subject them to this heartless and demeaning experience.

Last night I came across this article in Psychology Today by Marc Bekoff. In it he condemns everything that I was horrified by.

What depresses me is that we live in an age where people pretend to be animal lovers, but in reality they view animals as entertainment, and very often the animals suffer as a result.

Animals experience very similar emotions to humans. In the part of the brain which processes emotions, the limbic system, all mammals (humans and animals) have the same structures. Mammals also share the same neurochemicals that are important in processing emotions.  We should treat them with respect and love. No human should cause suffering to an animal in the pursuit of their own interests.

Animals experience very similar emotions to humans. In the part of the brain which processes emotions, the limbic system, all mammals (humans and animals) have the same structures. Mammals also share the same neurochemicals that are important in processing emotions. We should treat them with respect and love. No human should cause suffering to an animal in the pursuit of their own interests.

Kiss the Critter and Kiss a Pig Contests, “Cheap Laughs, and Bullying”

As Marc Bekoff  says, and he says it applies to other animals as much as pigs “These inane contests demean everyone involved and should be stopped right now… Stunts based on contempt and ridicule…. These sensitive {animals}… Surrounded by shrieking…. promoting animal exploitation for cheap laughs. The animals have no understanding of what is happening to them. {Animals} are sentient beings who are capable of experiencing fear and pain. Just as none of us would appreciate being held up in front of a jeering crowd, neither do animals. Bullying is bullying, no matter who the victim is.”

Animals suffer when their needs and expectations and desires are not met. All mammals (humans and animals) have the same structures in a part of the brain called the limbic system, which appears to be primarily responsible for our emotional life and the formation of memories. Mammals also share the same neurochemicals that are important in processing emotions, so these arguments from analogy, as scientists call them, are extremely strong and valid ones. I.e. any differences between humans and animals are differences of degree rather than kind. And animals may well experience some things more strongly than humans.

Animals are not objects. We do not own them. There has been a paradigm shift among scientists who study ethology, animal behaviour. Scientists have come to understand that animals have emotions and feelings and are intelligent. We should treat them with the love and respect they deserve.

This is an article that Marc Bekoff wrote for Psychology Today:

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/animal-emotions/201311/kiss-pig-contests-cheap-laughs-and-bullying

“Kiss a Pig Contests, Cheap Laughs, and Bullying

These inane contests demean everyone involved and should be stopped right now

Published on November 8, 2013 by Marc Bekoff, Ph.D. in Animal Emotions

Given that schools rightfully aspire to zero tolerance of bullying, they should be at the forefront of encouraging students to be respectful to each other, to their teachers and to all those around them, human and nonhuman alike. So, why are schools (and other organizations) holding events such as “kiss a pig” contests to reward students for reading or to motivate them in their fundraising? These spectacles send the reckless message that stunts based on contempt and ridicule are not only condoned but also encouraged.

Whether or not a student or teacher is well liked, it’s clear that the person who gets the most votes and has to kiss a pig is considered a “loser.” In “kiss a pig” contests, these sensitive animals are surrounded by shrieking kids and the pigs have no understanding of what is happening to them. The piglets often scream in fright, urinate and struggle to escape.

Schools should recognize that these kinds of incentives encourage students to be openly disdainful of their teachers and also foster derision and disrespect toward both educators and pigs. Instead of mocking pigs, students could learn a lot of positive lessons about kindness and compassion from them.

Pigs are loyal friends and amiable companions. Smart and inquisitive, they enjoy exploring and uncovering new and interesting things. They dream and also enjoy listening to music and getting back rubs. Calling someone “a pig” should actually be a compliment.

Pigs are sentient beings who are capable of experiencing fear and pain. Just as none of us would appreciate being held up in front of a jeering crowd, neither do pigs. Bullying is bullying, no matter who the victim is. The teacher who would stop a child from being picked on should extend the same compassion toward animals. Educators must recognize the danger of instigating group antipathy (the so-called “mob mentality”) and how doing so prompts otherwise kind people to behave badly.

If students were taught how personable pigs really are, I feel certain these contests would be stopped once and for all. Young people can learn to appreciate pigs for the truly remarkable beings they are. Pigs offer valuable lessons in forgiveness, resilience and confidence, and I know this firsthand from a pig I met a few years ago named Geraldine.

Geraldine was a rescued potbellied pig living at a lovely sanctuary called Kindness Ranch. Although she had known nothing but cruelty before being rescued, she was personable and clearly interested in assessing me for acceptance as a new friend. Once I passed muster and she trusted me, she demanded nothing but companionship and belly rubs. Geraldine had every reason to be hostile and fearful, but she put her bad past behind her and moved forward with optimism and cheer. The idea of subjecting Geraldine or any of her kin to derision or discomfort is utterly unthinkable.

Links between animal abuse and human abuse are well-known

In light of the devastating consequences of bullying, schools are doing the right thing to take steps to curb anti-social behavior. And those steps must include extending kindness to everyone, including other animals, as there are well-established links between abusing nonhuman animals and bullying humans (see also and “Animal Cruelty and Antisocial Behavior: A Very Strong Link“).

With so many innovative and humane ways to motivate kids, schools are failing themselves and their students by promoting animal exploitation for cheap laughs. These sorts of events should be stopped immediately and the reasons for doing so should be made very clear. Both humans and other animals will benefit from these discussions.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Marc Bekoff is a former Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and is a Fellow of the Animal Behavior Society and a past Guggenheim Fellow. In 2000 he was awarded the Exemplar Award from the Animal Behavior Society for major long-term contributions to the field of animal behavior. Marc is also an ambassador for Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots program, in which he works with students of all ages, senior citizens, and prisoners, and also is a member of the Ethics Committee of the Jane Goodall Institute. He and Jane co-founded the organization Ethologists for the Ethical Treatment of Animals: Citizens for Responsible Animal Behavior Studies in 2000. Marc is on the Board of Directors of The Fauna Sanctuary and The Cougar Fund and on the advisory board for Animal Defenders, the Laboratory Primate Advocacy Group, and Project Coyote. He has been part of the international program, Science and the Spiritual Quest II and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) program on Science, Ethics, and Religion. Marc is also an honorary member of Animalisti Italiani and Fundacion Altarriba. In 2006 Marc was named an honorary board member of Rational Animal and a patron of the Captive Animals’ Protection Society. In 2009 he was named a member of the Scientific Expert Advisory Panel of Voiceless, The Animal Protection Institute and a faculty member of the Humane Society University, and in 2010 he was named to the advisory board of Living with Wolves and Greenvegans and the advisory council of the National Museum of Animals & Society. In 2005 Marc was presented with The Bank One Faculty Community Service Award for the work he has done with children, senior citizens, and prisoners. In 2009 he was presented with the St. Francis of Assisi Award by the Auckland (New Zealand) SPCA. Marc is also on the Board of Directors for Minding Animals International.

This is a link to Marc Bekoff’s homepage:

http://www.literati.net/authors/marc-bekoff/

 

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