At Flamingo Land, we always get excited when we have new arrivals born in the zoo. This week it was the capybara which gave birth to a large litter of babies. If you come and visit the zoo, look out for them within our South America area of our Treetop Walkway.
The capybara is the largest rodent in the world, sometimes weighing as much as an adult human. It is a very sociable mammal, spending its time in family groups. Although it is found in the rainforests in South America, it is an excellent swimmer due to its webbed feet. It is semi-aquatic meaning that it is often found in rivers, lakes and swamps. Hiding in the water is a useful technique from evading predators. The capybara will submerge its body so that only its nostrils are sitting on the surface, which enable it to breathe, although it can be fully submerged for up to five minutes. Animals which would normally predate capybara would be ocelot, puma, jaguar, eagles and sometimes anacondas.
The diet of the capybara consists of different vegetation, including grass and aquatic plants. Due to the design of its mouth, its jaw moves backwards and forwards when grinding the vegetation, rather than up and down, or side to side.
To distinguish the females from the males, the females do not have a scent gland on the top of their nose. The males have this to rub their scent around to show off their dominant status. The scent gland is hairless, so it is a very easy way to pick out the boys from the girls. Another form of communication made by the capybara is a wide range of vocalisations, including growls, barks, whistles and purrs. These are very chatty animals!