The world's largest rodent might not seem like an ideal foster mom. But for the puppies at Rocky Ridge Refuge, Cheesecake the capybara is just that. Around Christmas 2010, Cheesecake took up residence at Rocky Ridge, a 15-acre (6-hectare) animal sanctuary in Arkansas, run by Janice Wolf. Shortly afterwards, Cheesecake began serving as surrogate mother for the puppies who were brought or born there [source: Fears].
Capybaras, native to Central and South America, look a bit like hairy pigs sans tails and snouts. The rodents stand about 2 feet (60 centimeters) tall with slightly webbed feet, and are generally rather social [source: San Diego Zoo]. When Wolf first acquired Cheesecake, the large rodent began hanging out with Wolf's rescued dogs, playing, eating and sleeping with them. Then, when some motherless pups arrived, Cheesecake's maternal instincts kicked in and she quickly began to mother them. Gentle, yet firm, she cuddled with the babies, watched over them during the day and taught them manners, such as not being so pushy around the food bowl. Interestingly, even when puppies arrived at Rocky Ridge along with their mothers, the mama canines all trusted Cheesecake with their pups [source: Fears].