The Strange, Sociable Capybara

Down yonder in South America you can find a very large friendly rodent. Well, not like the Giant Rat of Sumatra or something, because rodent is a large category. The capybara is a rodent related to the guinea pig (which is not from Guinea and not a pig), and it has a bit of a resemblance to pigs.

Capybara, Unsplash / Hongbin
Some people use their hides for clothing and even eat them (others are none to fond of serving them up for chow, and I think they're too cute for that). Capybaras are sometimes kept as pets (where legal), but have distinct needs.They are excellent swimmers and are fast on land as well. In an interesting bit of symbiosis, birds ride on capybaras and, in a manner slightly similar to wrasse cleaning, get themselves cleaned by the birds and other critters. There is no evidence of capybara evolution, but are represented by the created kinds of Genesis.

It’s an animal to which many other creatures (and not just its predators) are attracted. Whether it’s in the water, or out of it eating grass—or even just lazing around—they want to be on its back, at its side, or close by it.

What is it? It’s the world’s biggest rodent, the capybara, which can weigh up to 66 kg (145 pounds).

Europeans first described it as a water hog — because it swam and looked like a pig — hence the scientific name Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris. The common name capybara derives from ka’api√Ľara (‘grass eater’) in the once widely spoken South American Tupi language.
You can read the rest of this short article at "Capybara".