It’s intriguing to know that Capybaras are the largest rodents known to man. Could their diet be responsible for their size? Some capybaras can stand at a height of 3 ft and weigh up to 150 pounds.
Facts emerged that these rodents originated from South America and have lived across continents since. Capybaras survive from the consumption of aquatic plants and grasses, and they stay near water bodies to keep their skins moist.
In this article, we will dive into the diets of capybaras and uncover other capybara facts.
What Do Capybaras Eat?
Capybaras are herbivores; their diet consists mainly of grasses. They feed on a variety of vegetation, including plant roots, tubers, sedges, barks, sugar cane, and aquatic plants.
During the wet season, Capybaras are very selective of what they consume, as they go for their favorites, which are delicious plants. However, they are less selective during the dry season and can consume any plant they find edible.
It is rare to find capybaras staying on land for a long time except during the dry season when they move around searching for a pond of water to immerse themselves.
One of the factors that could be responsible for the large size of capybaras is their eating culture. Capybaras have a voracious appetite and eat a lot because their body has limited ability to retain fat from food.
It is impossible for a capybara to manage starvation or go long periods without food. They have a multi-chambered stomach that makes it easy for them to digest tough plant materials that are difficult for the human stomach to digest. Also, their four-chamber stomach does an excellent job in extracting nutrients from the plants.
Shockingly, capybaras are known to eat their own poop. The culture of eating one’s feces is known as “cecotrophy/coprophagy” and it is typically done in the morning. Eating their own poop helps them re-ingest proteins, breakdown fiber, and absorb nutrients in higher quantities.
Below is a list of foods that make up a capybara’s diet:
- Aquatic plants and grasses.
- Bermuda grass.
- Plant roots.
What Do Capybaras Eat In The Wild?
As you know, there are two capybara species. The lesser capybaras can be found around Venezuela and Columbia while the greater one resides across the Amazon and into Argentina.
These capybara breeds live in different locations and do not have a specific dietary plan. They feed mostly on water plants and grasses or any vegetation available.
Capybaras have long, sharp, ever-growing front teeth, which are used for chopping plants found around water bodies. Wild capybaras eat the same foods eaten by domesticated capybaras.
A full-grown adult capybara can consume over 8 pounds of vegetation daily. During periods like summer, when there are no aquatic plants to consume, capybaras may consume fruits, grains, and other plants that grow on land.
How Much Food Does a Capybara Eat?
As mentioned, a capybara eats between 6 to 8 pounds of vegetation every day, which constitutes between 3 to 4% of its body weight.
You may be disgusted to hear of a capybara eating its own poop. Well, studies have shown that this trait is beneficial and healthy for rodents.
Capybaras’ feces are rich in protein. Eating their poop helps them absorb the nutrients that should have been gotten from the first digestion.
How Does The Capybara Diet Affect The Ecosystem?
Capybara’s primary food source is vegetation, especially the ones found close to water bodies. As Capybaras flock to rivers and ponds in their numbers, they help to minimize the growth of water plants, which would have overgrown.
Moreover, these rodents also hinder invasive plants’ growth, which adversely affects the environment by reducing soil quality. By restraining the growth of these plants, the original soil quality in the area is retained, allowing native plants to grow and blossom.
Eating unwanted plants spurs the growth of healthy plants. Also, capybara droppings will strengthen the soul and make it fertile for plant growth.
Capybaras are prey to predators like caiman, jaguars, and ocelots. The large size of capybaras makes it a sufficient meal for predators.
Are Capybaras Dangerous To Humans?
While Capybaras are considered wild animals in some places, they are not as dangerous as believed. Capybaras are incredibly friendly. If you own a capybara, you can tell how shy and timid they are, especially when you newly acquired them.
Like mice, capybaras will try to hide from humans when they see them. These social rodents are not completely harmless. Remember that they have sharp, long teeth, which they can use as a weapon when in danger.
Capybaras will use their teeth to defend themselves. Avoid leaving your kids around capybaras without supervision and make sure not to play aggressively with the rodent. Capybara bites can be dangerous and have been known to get people hospitalized.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Do Capybaras Eat?
Capybara eat grasses and vegetables such as pumpkin, aquatic plants, melons, fruits, etc.
Can Capybaras Eat Meat?
Capybaras are herbivores, meaning their diet consists of grasses. Therefore, they aren’t known for meat consumption. Apart from plants, these herbivores are known to eat small animals such as amphibians, fish, and insects.
Do Capybaras Eat Their Own Poop?
A capybara can eat their own feces. It’s actually healthy for the rodent to consume their waste as it helps them re-ingest their food and absorb more nutrients from their diet.
What Food Should I Feed My Capybara?
If you own a capybara, consider feeding it with a blend of fruits and vegetables. It would be great if you have a garden or have access to a place where you can easily source grasses, as capybaras are known to have high food consumption.
Capybaras are known to enjoy water plants and vegetables. Read this article for a list of their favorite foods.
Like many rodents in the animal kingdom, capybaras rely on plants and vegetables for food. You can find capybaras around ponds, lakes, riverbanks, and streams feeding on aquatic grasses and plants.
They may also feed on plants obtained from dry such as melons, grains, and bark. Capybaras are known to consume their own poop, which helps them ingest more nutrients.