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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.