Book Review: Capybara: The World’s Largest Rodent

Capybara: The World’s Largest Rodent (Super Sized!)
by Natalie Lunis

Book Type: Juvenile, non-fiction (ages 4 -8)
Date of publication: 2009
Publisher: Bearport Publishing


Topics covered include:

  • A Really Big Rodent
  • Wet, Grassy Homes
  • Big Teeth
  • Noisy Groups
  • Bringing Up Babies
  • Extra-Large Enemies
  • Everybody into the Water!
  • Sneaky Swimmers
  • Rodent Ranches

The book’s format is that each left-hand page contains up to about 80 words of text and one to three small photos with the opposing page having a single large photo on the same topic.

Interior page of Capybaras: The World's Largest Rodent

Interior page of Capybaras: The World's Largest Rodent

Owner’s Review:

This book is more for the lower end of the age range rather than the higher. The text is informative, as far as it goes, which is not very far. All of the data is correct, the layout is nice and the photos are wonderful. In fact, I’d buy it for the photos alone. But I don’t think the text is entertaining enough for very young and it is not informative enough for the older children.

Caplin’s Review:FiveGreenPaws_tiny

I liked this book. As my owner said, the photos are really great! There is one of a capybara jumping into the water that is just the perfect action shot. The photo of the jaguar looked just as fierce and terrifying as those awful cats really are. And photos of the baby capys with their moms were so sweet. I also liked the way the little facts were framed in capybara fur. There wasn’t much text but what it said was a pretty good description of us capybaras.

My Friends Elizabeth & Emily: Balloon Makers

Emily & Elizabeth with Balloon Capybara

Emily & Elizabeth with Balloon Capybara

I have some of the most amazing friends in the world…and they’re not even all capybaras! I’d like you to meet two special friends, Emily and Elizabeth. Sure, they are cute human kids and we have that cute thing in common, but we also share another special attribute.

Elizabeth & Emily also have their own book! Seriously! (Probably their mom takes credit for their book just the way my owner takes credit for mine. That is lame.)

Did you notice what they are holding in the photo? It is a balloon capybara! Sadly, it turns out that capybaras are very hard to render in balloon. I think they did a pretty good job though. I especially like the color they chose. But the picture should give you a hint as to what their book is about. It is a instruction guide on how to make balloon animals. Who wouldn’t want to do that?

You can read more about them, their book and their fun encounters with everyone’s favorite capybara (me) on their blog. The title of their book is Kids Show Kids How to Make Balloon Animals. It’s a great idea for children’s parties and other events.

I think it would be fun if y’all would try to beat Emily & Elizabeth’s capybara-balloon rendition and send me photos of your creations. I’ll add the photos to this post. Come on! Let’s see how creative my fans can be.

Book Review: Capybaras: A Natural History of the World’s Largest Rodent

Capybaras: A Natural History of the World’s Largest Rodent by Rexford D. Lord

Book Type: Technical, Natural History
Date of Publication: 07/2009
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press



This is a technical book requiring the reader to have a general familiarity with biological concepts and techniques as well as a familiarity with anatomy. The chapters are:

  • General Characteristics of the Capybara
  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Natural History, Ecology and Behavior
  • Diseases, Parasites and Hazards
  • Census and Population
  • Conservation and Management
  • Case History: A 10-year Population Study

The entire book, including appendicies, is 159 pages, although the pages with color plates are not counted.

Owner’s Review:  GreenHands3

Since I have a degree in biochemistry and have done graduate work in biology, I have the appropriate background to understand and interpret the technical data in this book. But still, I was surprised by the amount of actual data verses meaningful analysis. And many of the points are repeated in several chapters, giving the already thin volume an air of desperation to fill its pages.

I did learn several interesting facts. I learned that the smaller capybaras in Panama and Colombia are actually considered a separate species, making two capybara species rather than one. I also did not know the extent to which capybara populations have plummeted through most of their range due to overhunting. Some of the information on predation and disease was also interesting but much of the disease section was inconclusive and probably wouldn’t even be of much interest to a vet.

Much of the book focuses on capybara management in the llanos of Venezuela. Of interest in these sections was the large number, and large percentage, of capybaras “harvested” each year. But most of this would be useful only to a rancher in that region.

The photographs are interesting but not the striking images I would expect someone who had spent 10 years studying these animals to have taken. The cover photo is a good example of this. It’s not a bad photo but it is not a great one either.

On the whole, the book was a bit of a disappointment, especially as there is so little information about these animals available.

Caplin’s Review:   GreenPaws2

Reading this book made me so glad I am a pet capybara and not one living in the wild or on a ranch. Apparently, the life expectancy of a capybara on an Hato in Venezuela is only 1.5 years! And those are the capybaras that have it easy!  The photograph of a baby capy being sprited away by a caracara was especially disturbing. And the story about a male capybara randomly picking up a baby with his teeth and killing it! How horrible is that?

He did cover some of our nicer aspects though. Mother capybaras will nurse any young in their band, not just their own babies. Capybaras form a protective circle around the young to protect them when threatened. And he mentioned what excellent swimmers we are.

I didn’t even bother to look at any of the charts ortables of data though. That stuff bores me. I have to rely on my owner to tell me if there’s anything important there.

Book Review: Animals of the Rain Forest: Capybaras

Animals of the Rain Forest: Capybaras by Alexandria Manera
Steadwell Books
This is one of a series of Animals of the Rain Forest books.

Book Type: Non-fiction, quick overview
Ages: 6-8

The range map in this book is probably its best feature.

The range map in this book is probably its best feature.


This book has 32 pages of large type that include the following chapters:

  • Range Map of Capybaras
  • Quick Look at Capybaras
  • Capybaras in teh Rain Forest
  • What Do Capybaras Eat
  • A Capybara’s Life Cycle
  • The Future of Capybaras

Each section is a quick overview of 1-2 pages including a photo or diagram.

Owner’s Review:TwoGreenHands_tiny

The cover photograph is quite nice but most of the interior photos are not high quality.

The good thing about this book is that it doesn’t present any information that is wrong. The bad thing is that is that it is boring. I think it’s boring even for a young kid. For example, “A capybara’s habitat has a lot of water. A habitat is an area where a plant or animal usually lives.” Sure that’s informative and I understand that you have to explain the vocabulary to young children but couldn’t it be done in a more interesting way? There are numerous instances of this type of explanation.

Caplin’s Review:OneGreenPaw

I was too bored to listen to most of this book but I did find this sentence amusing: Some people believe that their [capybaras’] careful grazing helps to preserve their habitat. Those wild capys must be way different than me because I am not a careful grazer! Unless by “careful” you mean I only eat things that taste good and only as close to the roots as my big snout will allow.  I do make a decent lawnmower according to my owner.

Book Review: Capyboppy by Bill Peet

Capyboppy written and illustrated by Bill Peet

Book type: picture book
Ages : all ages but probably intended for 5-8

A drawing from Capyboppy

A drawing from Capyboppy

This book tells the story of a pet capybara named Capyboppy that was kept by the Peet family during the 1960s. The story starts with teenage Bill Jr. getting a juvenile capybara to keep as a pet. Capyboppy makes himself right at home, scaring the cats, chewing on things, sleeping on the couch with Margaret Peet and swimming in the pool with Bill Jr. and his friends.

Things start to go bad when the Peets build an pen for Capyboppy out in the yard and Bill Jr. leaves for a long vacation in Mexico. The depressed capybara attacks a local kid who has come into his enclosure to feed him grass. Tommy Peet kicks Capyboppy as hard as he can, sending him to the bottom of the pool.

Eventually Capyboppy recovers from injuries sustained by the kick but the Peets determine that he is no longer a suitable pet. They end up donating him to the LA Zoo where he is put in the hippo enclosure. The book ends with Capyboppy happily eating all the hippos’ food.

Owner’s Review: FiveGreenHands_tiny
The drawings in this book are amazing. Bill Peet managed to capture ever nuance of expression that I see in Caplin’s face every day. In many ways, Caplin acts just like Capyboppy and in other ways not. For instance, Caplin loves his innertube that we got him largely because of this book. On the other hand, Caplin never chews on anything except your occasional cord. Both Caplin and Capyboppy like to sit on the couch but Caplin would never roll over the way Capyboppy is portrayed.

The lesson of the story appears to be that exotic animals don’t really make good pets. This is probably true for most people. The Peets don’t give much thought to the requirements of caring for a large, needy animal like a capybara before they get Capyboppy. They also don’t seem to take their responsibility for the animal as seriously as they should. And after Tommy kicks Capyboppy into the pool to protect the young neighbor, he spends two days doing nothing and yet the Peets do not take him to the vet or seek any veterinary help for him. That seems very irresponsible.

Even with the drawbacks mentioned, I think this is an excellent book. The drawings provide a wonderful insight into capybara behavior.

Caplin’s Review: FiveGreenPaws_tiny

It’s hard to be objective about this book. Capyboppy is my hero and the world’s most famous capybara (although I sometimes claim to have surpassed him). The artwork in the book should be in the Louvre or some similarly prestigious art museum where it can be appreciated by all and preserved for eternity.

Not only is Capyboppy my hero, he is my role model. Every pose I strike is an attempt to copy his elegant style, the sublime cuteness of his expression.

But the tragedy at the end is almost too much to endure. Sure Capyboppy looks happy in the drawing of him at the zoo but how could he be? I could never be happy if I had to go live with hippos instead of with my owner. My little heart would be broken forever.