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Is a Capybara a Fish?

can capybara be eaten during lent

Capybaras are large rodents from South America, weighing up to 150 pounds and reaching over two feet tall. They are semi-aquatic, so they can thrive in water and land.


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These creatures, also referred to as water hogs, are strong swimmers, and they seem to spend a significant portion of their time in water. They have a set of webbed feet that help them run quickly and swim away from threats and potential predators.

One of the greatest strengths of the capybara is its ability to sustain its breath and stay underwater for over five minutes. Occasionally, the capybara may take naps in water or along the riverbanks to relax or just chill.

While the capybara is a rodent having similar features to a guinea pig, the Vatican sees it like a fish. As you know, the Catholic doctrine abhors meat consumption on Fridays during Lent.


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The capybara is an interesting animal that has captured the hearts of several people across the world. Little while this animal has become an unusual pet in several homes and shelters? While the capybara may resemble a giant guinea pig, some people believe it is a fish.

Can Capybaras Swim

Are the capybaras fishes? We can’t say the capybara is a fish because they do not live in water like other aquatic animals. Actually, they are semi-aquatic, like many amphibians, and can stay both on water and on land.

People have differing views about the capybara. This article provides valuable insights about the capybara, including their habitat, diet, physical characteristics, and features. At the end of the article, you will know what some people think of the capybara and why it is believed to be a fish.

What is a Capybara?

The capybara is one of the most interesting animals in the world. They are wild animals but are often kept as pets. As the largest rodent in the world, the capybara weighs around 66 to 90 pounds, with some weighing over 140 or 150 pounds.

Is The Capybara a Fish

Capybaras come from South America and dwell around water bodies such as lakes, streams, ponds, rivers, marshes, and swamps. They eat fruits, grasses, aquatic plants, fresh vegetables, and other forms of vegetation. They can be found in and around the Amazon basin as well as the Pantanal, and Chaco area.

While capybara live across grasslands and forests, they require access to water to survive. If you intend to keep a capybara, consider constructing a pond or keeping the animal in a pool of water, and it helps keep them cool. They enjoy swimming, relaxing, and playing in the water.

In the wild, the capybara hides itself from predators by submerging itself in the water. Moreover, they go underwater in search of water plants to eat.

how long can the capybara stay underwater

The capybara have short, webbed feet, and long, sharp teeth. These rodents are social animals and can be found in groups of 10 to 20 other capybaras. On average, the capybara can dwell for five years and up to 12 years in captivity. They are intelligent and friendly animals and are affordable to maintain.

Are Capybaras Fish?

Capybaras are rodents by nature and not fishes. A fish is any animal that exclusively lives in water. Capybaras are not fishes because they do not have scales, fins, or gills. The capybara has special features and characteristics that distinguish them from fishes.

Apart from their large size, capybaras have reddish-brown fur, short legs, and a large head with small eyes and ears. The capybara has its nostrils, ears, and eyes on the top of their head.

do capybaras enjoy hot baths

They can sleep in water with their noses and eyes above the water’s surface. Remarkably, the capybara can keep its entire body submerged underwater and stay below the surface for up to five minutes. This special feature helps them outwit and evade most predators on land and in the water.

While capybaras enjoy staying around bodies of water, they do not live in the water. The capybara have webbed feet, which help them swim and move themselves across the water.

The capybara stays in the water for relaxation purposes. They are semi-aquatic, meaning they spend time in terrestrial or aquatic environments.

What Do The Capybara Eat?

Capybaras are herbivores animals. You can call them vegetarians because their diet consists of green vegetation, plants, grasses, fruits, tree barks, and water plants. The capybara enjoys a varied diet, they eat a variety of meals, including sweet potatoes, melons, lemons, cucumbers, oranges, and squash.

Meeting the capybara’s dietary needs ensures they stay healthy and get the nutrients they need. So if you have a capybara in your custody, ensure to provide it with a balanced diet.

Capybara owners have a responsibility to ensure their pets get all they require to live well. You can feed your pet capybara with grasses and water plants. Including fresh hay and citrus fruits in their diet will provide them with essential vitamins and minerals.

what is capybaras favorite food

The capybara’s diet of grasses and water plants lacks vitamin C and other vitamins, and the capybara’s body system doesn’t produce vitamin C naturally. So, it extracts vitamin C from oranges, lemons, yuzu, and other citrus fruits. The capybara can suffer from scurvy if its body lacks vitamin C.

Therefore, consider feeding your capybara with enough fresh fruits and vegetables, preferably ones that are organic and pesticide-free. Alfalfa hay, for instance, supplies your capybara with enough protein along with other essential nutrients.

While you supply your capybara with fresh fruits, nuts, grasses, and vegetables, also ensure it gets access to fresh, clean water at all times. Fresh water in this situation covers both their water bowls and their pools.

Why Do Catholics Abstain From Meat During Lent?

It is a religious practice in the Roman Catholic church to abstain from meat consumption during Lent. Catholics don’t eat meat when it’s Lent. The church’s perception of meat differs from that of the typical vegetarian.

According to the Vatican’s view, a lot of aquatic animals, including fishes do not quality as meat. Apart from fish, animals such as capybaras, muskrats, and beavers do not qualify as “meat.” Catholics abstain from certain foods and earthly pleasures to honor Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross.

Beef, poultry, and pork are considered meat while fish isn’t’. Fish was perceived as a simple source of protein in the Middle Ages while meat from land animals was seen as rich and more “sinful.” Refusal to eat meat has nothing to do with animal rights. Rather, it was a way to break free from ingredients and meals considered rich and luxurious.

capybara fish catholic church

Like many doctrines and religions, Catholics have a loopholes and ways to circumvent this rule for many years. The capybara came from South American forests. It is called “chigüire” in Venezuela and was a popular meal in several rural communities.

In Venezuela, capybara’s meat is dried in sea salt before consumption. The taste is similar to that of a rabbit. Venezuela was colonized by Spain in the 16th century and several Catholic missionaries spread across the country.

In the 18th century, Spanish missionaries discovered several communities in Columbia, Brazil, and Venezuela, that relied heavily on capybara meat for protein.

The Catholics in Venezuela faced a serious challenge during Lent. These people love both the capybara meat and their faith but their doctrine forbids them from eating any animal during the 40-day period of Lent but fish.

These missionaries weren’t sure what kind of animal the capybara was, so they began to debate whether it was right to eat it during the meat-free fasting ritual of Lent. Later, they wrote to the Vatican in Roma, describing the strange aquatic animal they discovered as having a salty, fish-like flavor.

capybara lent fish

The Pope who had never seen a capybara issued a Papal Bull, qualifying the creature as a fish, meaning it can be eaten during Lent. From this period till date, Catholics in Venezuela eat capybara meat during Lent.


Although the Capybaras are rodents, the Vatican seemingly sees them as fishes. These large rodents spend a lot of time swimming and are similar to other semi-aquatic animals such as muskrats and beavers.

Apart from capybaras, animals like alligators, crocodilians, turtles, and other reptiles qualify as fish during Lent.


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