Capybara, Capivara, or Carpinche, an animal found in tropical and subtropical regions of South America, especially in the Amazon and Orinoco river basins. The capybara is the largest rodent known—it usually reaches four feet (1.2 m) in length and weighs 100 pounds (45 kg) or more. Its body is massive, somewhat resembling that of a pig.

Except for its legs, the capybara is completely covered with brown hair. Its feet are partially webbed and are adapted for swimming rather than walking. It has a stumpy tail, a broad, flat head, small ears, round piglike eyes, and sharp teeth. It lives in the grass along edges of streams, and takes to water on the slightest alarm. It is the natural food of the South American anaconda, a tree-dwelling snake. In some areas capybara flesh is considered good to eat. The animal feeds chiefly on grass and sugarcane.

Is a Beaver the Biggest Rodent?

The biggest rodent in North America is the beaver. However, the beaver is not the biggest rodent in the world. That honor goes to the capybara. This animal lives in Panama and South America. It grows up to 4 feet (1.2 meters) long. It can weigh over 100 pounds (45 kilograms).

The capybara looks like a small, furry pig. It has a thick body, short legs, a flat nose, and a short tail. Like a beaver, a capybara has feet with webbed toes, and it is a good swimmer. It is sometimes called a water pig or a water hog.

The capybara lives on grassy land near lakes and rivers. Its name means “master of the grass.” And it’s with good reason, too. Grass is a very important part of the capybara’s diet.

The capybara is Hydrochaerus hydrochaeris of the family Hydrochaeridae.