Ten Things to Know About Capybaras

(Owner’s blog)

Baby Caplin in his Baby Pool

Hi all! I don’t post often since Caplin has more than enough to say, but once in a while it seems like a human voice is necessary to keep things sane–not that Caplin is insane but… Anyway, here are ten things I think are interesting to know about capybaras.

  1. Capybara fur is like wires
    People are always asking me if he sheds. Yes, he does shed but not all at once, just a few hairs at a time. They are not like cat or dog hairs or even guinea pig hairs. They don’t stick to things. In fact, they are like little sticks themselves. They are very easy to vacuum up so no problem.
  2. Capybaras don’t smell
    This pretty much goes along with item #1. Capybara fur doesn’t smell because they don’t have a thick undercoat like a dog or a cat. That wiry hair of theirs really doesn’t hold much in the way of dirt or odors. And they go swimming all the time which keeps them clean–assuming the pool is clean. They do have a scent gland on their nose that they rub on stuff but apparently people can’t smell that. The scent from anal marking (which Caplin hardly does at all since he’s matured) is also not really noticeable to humans.
  3. Capybaras defecate and urinate in water
    I’ve always said this but it turns out this may just be a Caplin thing. Maybe it’s because I always make sure he has clean water to use but I have never seen Caplin defecate out of the water and he only urinates out of the water when he is really stressed. Dobby, Caplin’s little brother, and my friend Justin’s capybaras are all willing to poop or pee anywhere.
  4. Capybaras don’t like to be hugged
    This is one of those things that upsets Caplin’s fans when they hear it. Caplin does not like to be hugged. He will get on my lap when he wants to. He’ll sleep under the covers with me on cold nights. He let Sheldon hold him in the pool. But all of those things happen on his terms and his terms only. If you ever try to just put your arm around him, he is out of there. Anyway, that wiry hair is not really hugable.  Seriously, it sticks into my legs rather painfully when he sits in my lap.
  5. There are two species of capybara
    Yup! Who knew. Caplin is a regular capybara (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris), the other species is the lesser capybara (H. isthmius). Lesser capybaras have a much smaller range–southern Panama and Colombia–and are also smaller animals, maturing at around 75 pounds. I haven’t ever seen a lesser capybara in person, even though I lived in Panama when I was a child. I haven’t even seen a decent photo of a lesser capybara. If you have one please share it!
  6. Capybaras are prone to sunburn
    Or so I have read. In fact, I don’t think this is true. Caplin spends the entire day outside and it gets plenty hot and sunny here in the summer. He’s never had a trace of a sunburn. Sources say this burning tendency is why capybaras roll in the mud, for sunscreen. Caplin swims in a clean pool and is very seldom really muddy, certainly not for hours every day. I’m calling this an urban (rural?) myth.
  7. Capybaras can close their noses and ears
    When they go underwater, capybaras close a flap in each nostril so that water doesn’t go up their noses. They fold their ears back against their head to similarly protect them from water influx. They swim with their eyes open though and don’t have a nictating membrane (or third eyelid) as some animals do.
  8. Capybaras have their ears, eyes and nostrils at the top of their head as an adaptation for an aquatic environment
    I sometimes say this myself but I’ve got my doubts. Every time I look at Hello Pineapple and Sambal, Caplin’s two guinea pig co-pets, I notice that the placement of their ears, eyes and nostrils is very similar to that of a capybara. In fact, capybara heads look a whole lot like giant guinea pig heads. Guinea pigs are not known for their swimming abilities.

Okay, that’s it.

What? You think that’s not 10 things? Well, I couldn’t get WordPress’ auto-numbering thing to say “10″ instead of “8″. Since capybaras have only four toes on each front paw, it seems natural that they would count in base eight rather than base ten. I tried to do that but I was thwarted.

9 comments to Ten Things to Know About Capybaras

  • Lisa Baker

    Interesting on the ear,eyes, and nostrils placement. Out two guinea pigs can swim in the tub, but then again its only a few inches of water, and the do not willingly dive under. Caplin seems to really enjoy the pool. Thanks for sharing all things Caplin!
    (Approved: 2010/08/04)
    I don’t think anyone would claim guinea pigs are adapted for an aquatic existence. And Patagonian cavys have the same placement and I don’t think they ever go in the water.

  • [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Caplin Rous, Joseph Uranowski and Joseph Uranowski, Angie Robert. Angie Robert said: Awe RT @CaplinROUS: New blog post, Ten Things to Know About Capybaras: http://bit.ly/9Ncrxd [...]
    (Approved: 2010/08/04)

  • Ann Prescott

    9. Capybara shake when they come out of the water just like dogs do. (reference above picture :-])
    10. Capybara are the cutest animal in all the world!!! (reference all pictures of capys ever published)
    (Approved: 2010/08/04)
    Those are both good points!

  • Dobby

    I am actually very particular about where I poop. I never poop in my swimming pool, I never poop in the front yard, and I only pooped in the house under protest. I always have a nice clean bowl of water to poop in, just like Caplin’s, but I only use it if I actually see Stacy clean it. I usually poop on the concrete in a corner of my pen, and sometimes on the back yard lawn. I also poop right outside the kitchen door when I want someone to come out and play. When I see Stacy scooping my old poops, I always make a fresh one for her. When she finds that one and takes it away, I make another one. While she’s away I make one more teeny tiny one, just big enough for her to scoop. We call it The Poop Game. As for peeing, that is my secret. Nobody sees where I pee.

  • Lynn Marcotte

    It is disappointing that he doesn’t like hugs but so be it!
    Caplin more civilized it seems than Dobby! [hehehe]
    Also wish Dobby would make up his mind abt name spelling, I seen it Dobby,Doby, Dobbye!!!
    (Approved: 2010/08/04)
    Dobby is the correct spelling. He has to use Dobbye on Facebook because for some unknown reason they won’t allow Dobby as a name.

  • Really interesting facts! And I love the pic at the top!
    (Approved: 2010/08/04)

  • I like Capybaras because they are nice aniamls. The part that I lke it their hair because know matter what their hair is always spiked up. They are very perty aniamls.

  • Sinead

    This is very interesting, I used these for my homework and I got top marks so thanks!

  • Brook

    I have a capybara raised from A weeK old and he is actually quite the opposite…he is crate trained and prefers to poop and urinate in his pen where he is fed. He also loves hugs and to snuggle. It’s hard to get him out of your lap. He’s a joy

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