Common name: capybara
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Identification: This mammal is covered in reddish-brown fur, athough very thinly. They have a very large, block-like head with large teeth resembling that of a beaver. The ears are small and round. Their feet are webbed for swimming. The Capybara is a semi-aquatic mammal and the largest rodent in the world weighing up to 150 pounds and standing two feet tall at the shoulders and four feet in length (Mones and Ojasti, 1986).
Size: Up to 150 lbs.
Native Range: Its native range is most of South America, except for mountainous areas in the west (Herrera and MacDonald, 1989; Mones and Ojasti, 1986).
Hydrologic Unit Codes (HUCs) Explained
Puerto Rico &
Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps
Table 1. States with nonindigenous occurrences, the earliest and latest observations in each state, and the tally and names of HUCs with observations†. Names and dates are hyperlinked to their relevant specimen records. The list of references for all nonindigenous occurrences of Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris are found here.
Table last updated 12/10/2023
† Populations may not be currently present.
Ecology: They inhabit freshwater rivers, lakes, swamps, and marshes, grazing on aquatic plants. All types of lowland freshwater habitats including floodplains (Mones and Ojasti, 1986). They require water for drinking, dry land for resting, and grazing lands for foraging (Mones and Ojasti, 1986).
Means of Introduction: Capybaras are known to be kept as pets in United States. It is suspected that the Florida population is the result of escapees from a private residence.
Status: A population may have been established in the Santa Fe River drainage in north-central Florida, but none have been seen since 2011.
Impact of Introduction:
Summary of species impacts derived from literature review. Click on an icon to find out more...Capybaras do very well on cattle ranches and may compete for forage with cattle; management for cattle is well suited to their needs (Mones and Ojasti, 1986). There are no known investigations into its impacts in Florida. More than 80 parasite names, including many tick species, are found in the literature associated with Capybaras (Mones 1981 as cited in Mones and Ojasti, 1986).
References: (click for full references)
Herrera, E.A. and D.W. MacDonald. 1989. Resource utilization and territoriality in group-living capybaras (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris)
. Journal of Animal Ecology 58:667-679.
Mones, A. 1981. Estudios sobre la familia Hydrochoeridae (Rodentia), XI. Parasitos y patologias de Hydrochoerus Brisson, 1792. Lista preliminar. Res. y Com. Jornadas Cienc. Nat., Montevideo 2:16.
Mones, A. and J. Ojasti. 1986. Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris. Mammalian Species 164:1-7.
Revision Date: 11/20/2023
Benson, A.J., 2023, Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris (Linnaeus, 1766): U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?SpeciesID=2587, Revision Date: 11/20/2023, Access Date: 12/10/2023
This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.