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Capyfest 2009!

My birthday bash is July 11!

My birthday is coming up! I am going to be two on July 10th.

I will have a public party on Saturday, July 11th from 10 – noon at Garrison Park on Manchaca Rd. in South Austin. Look around and you’ll find us. I’ll be the only capybara there. Here is a link to a map.

As part of the celebration, my owner and I are donating $5 to the San Antonio Zoo for each copy of Celeste and the Giant Hamster sold during my birthday week (July 5-11).  The money will be used to “adopt” one or more of their three capybaras. If you buy the book, please send me a photo of you reading it and wearing a birthday hat or eating cake or with some other symbol of a birthday celebration. I’ll post the photos here and next to the book on amazon.com.

At the party you will be able to:

  • Get your photo taken with Caplin
  • Get your pet’s photo taken with Caplin
  • Share Caplin’s birthday cake
  • Get your copy of Celeste and the Giant Hamster signed by Caplin

Thanks! And Happy Birthday to Me!

My 1st birthday with my co-pets.

My 1st birthday with my co-pets.

Capybaras Make Dreams Come True

A new friend (and excellent author), Jeff VanderMeer, recently asked me if I would pose in a photo for a friend of his who (naturally) loves capybaras and had an upcoming birthday. Being so incredibly photogenic, I obliged. She’s written a blog post about it. I’m happy that I can do good around the world by just being cute. It is, after all, what I do best.

Me with Tessa's birthday card.

Me with Tessa's birthday card.

Japanese zoo has roaming capybaras and tank for viewing swimming from the side

“From late July, visitors to a zoo in Saikai, Nagasaki Prefecture, will be able to see capybaras swimming–the first time the animals will go on display in such a way in Japan.”

Here’s a video of a capybara viewing tank at the BioDome in Nagasaki, Japan.

FACute – All your questions answered!

This is your chance to impress you friends, neighbors, parents, teachers, students, coworkers, employers, employees, friends, enemies and strangers with actual knowledge rather than just stuff you made up to sound smart. Read this blog and you can sound smart by actually knowing something! And it won’t be hard either. The capybara facts covered in this blog entry are fun and easy to remember. You just have to remember to read it. Which you can do right now so you don’t forget. Okay, here goes:

General rodent facts:

  • Rabbits are NOT rodents.
  • Capybaras are rodents.
  • One quarter of all mammal species are rodents.
  • Rodents have four big teeth called incisors at the front of their mouths.
  • Rodent teeth grow throughout their lives and are razor sharp. ADVICE: don’t get bitten by a rodent.
  • Some rodents, like beavers, can actually cut down trees with their super-sharp teeth.
  • Beavers are the world’s second largest rodents.
  • All rodents have bacteria that can digest cellulose in their gut. Cellulose is the stuff that makes the cell walls of plants. Mammals cannot digest it on their own.
  • Some mammals, the ruminants including cows, chew their cud to get the nutrients released by bacteria in their stomachs that digest cellulose. This is like throwing up into your mouth and then eating it again.
  • Rodent bacteria are in their hind gut so must defecate and then eat the poop. Eating poop is called coprophagy.

General capybara facts:

  • Capybaras are the world’s largest rodents.
  • Our scientific name is Hydochoenus hydrochaeris.
  • We are in a strictly South American group of rodents called the Caviidae.
  • Some of our closest relatives are guinea pigs and maras.
  • There are some wild capybaras in Louisiana and southern Florida.
  • Baby capybaras can walk as soon as they are born.
  • Capybaras mostly eat grass. We are herbivores.
  • Mostly we poop in the water, but the special poop we eat, we eat directly as it comes out of us on land, not in the water.
  • We have very coarse hair that is also very sparse. You can see skin through it most places.
  • Our fur dries very quickly.
  • We puff up our fur when we are happy.
  • Capybaras have little tiny tails that are just nubs. We can’t move them at all.
  • We like to live in marshes.
  • Our feet are webbed.
  • We have three toes in the back and four in the front.
  • Our main predators are jaguars, anacondas, caiman, crocodiles, large raptors, and people.
  • Our skin is very, very tough so, tragically, we make good leather.
  • All capybaras are basically the same color.
  • A typical capybara weighs between 120 – 140 lbs.
  • Capybaras live about 12-14 years in captivity and less in the wild.
  • Capybaras live in herds or bands in the wild with one or a few males and several females and babies.
  • Capybaras do not dig.

Facts about me:

  • I am 3rd or 4th generation captive bred.
  • I was born on July 10, 2007 in Nacogdoches, Texas.
  • My parents are carnies. They go around to small fairs as a sideshow attraction.
  • I was one of five babies in my litter and the only one left when my owner came to pick me out.
  • I was 11 days old when my owner got me and I weighed about 3 lbs.
  • I reached 100 lbs and stayed there at around 18 months of age.
  • I was house-trained from the first day home. My owner just put out a bowl of water for me to go in.
  • I know several tricks including: sit, stand (beg), go up, do a circle, shake, wave and something called tap-a-tap-a
  • My favorite food is blueberry yogurt.
  • I do not like fruit pieces in my yogurt. I have to eat around them.
  • My tongue is so short it doesn’t come out of my mouth so I have to rub my nose on the wall and then lick the excess yogurt off the wall. I will also use a chair for that purpose.
  • I also love fruit popsicles.
  • And best of all, yogurt popsicles.
  • I go swimming every single day at least once, unless it is too cold.
  • Most days I also take a long soak in the bathtub.
  • When I was growing up I went through an aggressive phase and I bit my owner.
  • I am sometimes territorial but I am always very gentle away from home where I don’t think you’re trying to steal my stuff.
  • I can “eep” very loudly but I only do that when my owner abandons me.
  • I like to bark and run up and down the hallway.
  • When I am happiest, I sound like a Geiger counter.
  • When I’m excited, I popcorn like a guinea pig.
  • When the weather is cold, I like to sleep under the covers with my humans.
  • When the weather is hot, I sleep on the floor next to my owner.

If you want a pet capybara:

  • My owner DOES NOT BREED CAPYBARAS! I am her one and only pet capybara and I’d like to keep it that way.
  • Read my whole blog and watch my YouTube videos at www.YouTube.com/CaplinCapybara.
  • Read Capyboppy by Bill Peet.
  • Capybaras are a lot of work, need lots of room and a swimming pool, can be territorial and have big, sharp teeth. We are not the right pet for everyone…or very many people.
  • Make sure you have the right facilities to keep a capybara in your climate.
  • Check your local laws and agricultural office to make sure we are legal where you live.
  • Most “pet” capybaras live outside and are treated more like goats.
  • Don’t get a pet capybara if you have young children. We are still wild animals and won’t tolerate half of what a dog or cat will.
  • Contact Mary Lee at capybaras.org. She is in Arkansas. Or Justin at Kapi’yva Exotics. He is in Houston.
  • If you are in the UK,  you can try Peculiar Pets.
You could impress everyone you know just like this girl did.

You could impress everyone you know just like this girl did.

My owner loves me.

My owner loves me.

Photo facts

I weighed only 3 lbs in this photo.

I weighed only 3 lbs in this photo.

A cat harness like this one was too big for me.

A cat harness like this one was too big for me.

Porcupines are the 3rd largest rodents.

Porcupines are the 3rd largest rodents.

Me with my co-pet Seabiscuit when I was 8 months old.

Me with my co-pet Seabiscuit when I was 8 months old.

My giant rodent teeth.

My giant rodent teeth.

I am not a morning animal.

I am not a morning animal.

Capybaras are great swimmers.

Capybaras are great swimmers.

This is why we need rain.

This is why we need rain.

What it Takes to be a Pet

Me with my new co-pet, Maple

Me with my new co-pet, Maple

Have you ever wondered what makes an animal a pet? I’ve been asking myself that a lot lately.

Here’s what happened. A few weeks ago–or maybe a couple of months, doesn’t matter–I had a conversation with one of the wild rats (I think they are marsh rice rats) that live around the house. “It is so hot and dry this year,” Ratpunzil said, twitching her tail. “I don’t know how I’m going to find water or get enough to eat.” She looked so sad, naturally I invited her in. “Are you sure your humans won’t mind?” I set her straight right away, “My humans love me and I’m a rodent. In fact, my parents are billed as giant rats, so why would they worry about a little rat like you?” And I told her about all the food I have, plenty to share. And a bowl of clean water too. Ratpunzil was a little nervous but happy at the prospect.

Not long after, she set up house in the wall in the kitchen. There’s a place where the baseboard has pulled away to provide a cozy little entrance. I was pretty happy to have a new co-pet even though Ratpunzil slept most of the day and only came out at night when everyone was asleep, including me. I can’t tell you how excited I was when Ratpunzil had five little babies!

Things were going smoothly until Ratpunzil invited her mate, Rataslitskin, in to live with her. He is braver than she is and came out when my humans were still awake. And the babies took his lead and started running around squeaking up a storm. That’s when I learned something very, very, surprising.

I thought that being an animal and living in the house is what makes a pet. Turns out that is not enough. My humans did not think of Ratpunzil, Rataslitskin and their family as “pets.” They weren’t even honored guests. In fact, my owner put out a trap and started catching them. The first day she caught two of the babies and she took them away never to be seen again!

One of the baby rats before it was "disappeared"

One of the baby rats before it was "disappeared"

You can’t imagine Ratpunzil’s horror when her offspring went missing! Only the fact that she had a new litter to look after kept her from racing through the house looking for them. So instead she had Rataslitskin do that. This only made matters worse. My owner put the trap back out and more of the baby rats were tricked into getting caught. My owner took them to work with her in the morning, just like she used to take me, only they didn’t come home at night.

Now almost all of the babies are gone but Ratpunzil is expecting a new litter. I don’t know what to tell her. I think my owner is going to catch them all and spirit them away also. And she is trying her hardest to catch both Ratpunzil and Rataslitskin too!

I eeped to her when she came home without the first two babies, “Why don’t you like my rat co-pets?” She just scratched my nose and set the trap back up. I could only imagine that someday she will catch them all and I will not have any co-pets except the three snakes in the house. I don’t play with the snakes because they’re in cages and I’m afraid they will eat me if they get out. Gives me nightmares. *shiver*

But just when I thought I had things figured out, my owner comes home with Maple, my new rabbit co-pet. And I mean co-pet, not pest-to-be-disappeared. Maple got a nice cage, food and water, a harness, treats and all kinds of things. She gets to come out in the day. My owner picks her up and pets her. What gives?

Why is Maple a co-pet but Ratpunzil isn't?

Why is Maple a co-pet but Ratpunzil isn't?

Don’t get me wrong, I love Maple. She is as cute as. But what makes her a co-pet when Ratpunzil is not? I do not get it. And could my own status change? Once a pet, always a pet? What if that’s not true? I think my owner lets the baby rats go in a field a long way from any houses. What would happen if she did that to me? Firstly, my little capy heart would be broken. But secondly, where would I get my yogurt?

I haven’t told Maple any of this. She’s just a baby and new to our home. Plus I hear rabbits have delicate little hearts. She’s already bonded to me and my humans, I don’t think she would survive the shock of being tossed aside to live with the wild rabbits. This is one horror I will have to keep to myself.