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.

In Memoriam: Penelope Capybara

Penelope really knew how to accessorize

Penelope really knew how to accessorize

There aren’t many of us pet capybaras in the world, at least not ones that live in the house and the yard with our owners. But for those humans who have experienced the love of a capybara, there is nothing like it. And that is why it is especially sad when one of us dies. So many hearts are broken. Especially if the capybara is as cute, as sweet and as loving as Penelope Capybara.

I never had the opportunity to meet Penelope personally although we were related. I believe she was my half-first-cousin-once-removed, or something like that. But I followed her life from a distance via email and FaceBook and so I know just how special she was.

Penelope was the runt of her litter, so tiny that her breeders, Mary Lee and Amos Stropes, didn’t think she should go home with anyone until they were more sure of her health. But when Lisa and Anthony came to pick out a baby capybara, they couldn’t leave with anyone but Penelope. There was no way Mary Lee could convince them to take home a different ‘bara. And Penelope loved them right back. She’d never been handled and yet she immediately found warmth, love and comfort in Lisa and Anthony’s arms.

This is what love looks like (when it involves a capybara)

This is what love looks like (when it involves a capybara)

Penelope settled into her new home and immediately molded it to her liking. Like the famous Capyboppy, Penelope loved a shower. Lisa was shocked at first by how a motivated Penelope could jump high enough to get into the shower with her, but soon it became a common occurrence.

And Penelope loved Anthony too, listening to him play his electric guitar, she’d poof up to show her contentment. Apparently folk/rock agreed with her.

But her winning ways didn’t stop there. Penelope was also the favorite of Delilah, an 8-year-old rabbit with an attitude. Before Penelope, Delilah didn’t get along with any of her co-pets. She chased and bit at the guinea pigs and other bunnies. But Penelope changed all that. She used Delilah as a pillow and the rabbit even shared her food bowl with the young capybara.

Penelope and Deliliah-Pillow

Penelope and Deliliah-Pillow

Not that Penelope couldn’t be a pest. It’s hard to do anything when a little capybara insists on following you everywhere, sitting or standing between your feet, looking up with those big dark eyes and wiggling ears and eeping to be held. Especially if the capy’s face is covered with yogurt (she got that from my side of the family!).

Penelope’s life was much too short. She died suddenly and without a long illness, probably due a congenital problem that stunted her growth. She will be missed terribly but she brought love, beauty and comedy to many, many lives. And for all her five months, she knew she was loved by her humans and her best friend co-pet Delilah, and by a wide network of people who cannot own their own capybara but dream of one just like Penelope.

The scrathes were worth the humiliation.

The scrathes were worth the humiliation.

Please leave a comment for Lisa and Anthony.

Video: Capybara Bark

I am dreaming when something wakes me up and I bark. I don’t bark very often, mostly when I’m startled or excited.

YouTube Preview Image

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.

Coney Island Giant Rat

I recently saw this photo of the “Giant Rat” at Coney Island, NY.

Baby capybara at Coney Island, NY

Baby capybara at Coney Island, NY

I was not surprised that the “Giant Rat” was actually a capybara, it always is, and, after all, my parents are carnies.

What I am surprised at is that it is a BABY capybara. And look at how it is being kept. It is hunkered down in its miserable little water bowl. The floor is metal with nothing soft for it to lie on and no obvious food to eat. The poor thing should at least have some hay to lie down in. And, at this size, it should still be getting milk.

Can someone in NY report this to the local SPCA and have them look into it? Hopefully this photo doesn’t tell the full story.