“Theory of Mind”: Capybara Intelligence

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

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

Choco looking very happy trough

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

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

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

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

Donguri leg injury waits hospital room 2015

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

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

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

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

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

Choco in trough distant view

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

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

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

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

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

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

Choco in monkey house 2014

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

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

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

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

1479177_674064192639013_1294108828_n

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//