The photo above was taken on 2010/12/03, just one month before Caplin Rous died. He looks the picture of health, eating nice tasty, green grass just like a capybara should. Is this what killed him?
UPDATE: Please see the ROUS Foundation page (using the tab at the top of this page) for more information!
Unfortunately we will never know exactly what happened. The necropsy reported chronic liver damage, possibly due to low levels of toxins in his food over a long period of time. Or it could have been from a disease that he had in the distant past. Or from the anesthesia that was used when he was neutered. Or he could have been born with a bad liver.
The innocent looking grass he is eating could harbor aflatoxins. But the same could be said for his hay or guinea pig food or almost anything he ate. Ironically the popsicles that everyone complained about me giving him are probably off the hook but almost everything else is suspect. Nevermind that the horses, the rabbits, the guinea pig and the people who ate the same foods did not get sick. Capybaras may have a greater sensitivity to aflatoxin, or some other toxin, than any of the other consumers. We just don’t know.
That is why I have decided to start the ROUS Foundation for Capybara Veterinary Medicine. I am working with the veterinary school at Texas A&M University to get this going. There will be two foci of the ROUS Foundation. The first will be to sponsor necropsies and the second will be to study liver function in living capybaras.
You might not think there are many dead capybaras to perform necropsies on but there are a surprising number, especially when you consider zoos and breeders along with pet owners. A lot of the dead capys are babies or young ones who just don’t thrive for some reason (bad livers?), but even older capys like Caplin sometime suddenly sicken and die. Rarely do they get a necropsy to determine cause of death. The ROUS Foundation plans on paying for the necropsy and transport of the body to A&M. This should encourage people and institutions to have a necropsy performed so that we know why captive capybaras are dying.
I am not yet sure what will be done for the liver studies but I am hoping it will be a simple blood test. I will be taking Garibaldi Rous in as soon as possible to have his liver tested to get a baseline for him. We need data on healthy as well ill capybaras to make this work. I am worried that Caplin died from something in our environment, the same thing could happen to Gari. I plan on having his liver tested at least once per year and I’m hoping that if the tests are free other capybara owners will do the same.
I will be posting more information on this web site as it becomes available.
To donate to the ROUS Foundation, use the link on the right side panel or go to www.CaplinRous.com. Purchases and donations from that site go into a special account that I have set up to fund the charity. I will give some of those monies directly to A&M once everything is set up but I plan on using some of the money to create more sale items and generate more revenue that will, of course, feed back into the charity.