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Ten Fun Facts about Uruguay's Capybara

Scientific Name- Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris

On our horse riding tours of Uruguay we visit natural reserves including Santa Theresa National Park, Castillos Lagoon, San Miguel National Park, and Cabo Polonio National Park where many species of flora and fauna are seen both on land and in the water. The Capybara is a native animal that lives here; here are some fun facts about the curious creature.

1. The Capybara is the world’s largest rodent, sometimes growing to over 1.2 metres in length, (4ft), almost a metre in height, (2ft), and weighing as much as 68 KG, or 150 Lbs.

2. Strong swimmers like a beaver, the Capybara’s ears, eyes, and nose are on the top of their heads like a hippo-so they can breathe and see when swimming. To avoid predators, they take to the water and can breathe underwater for up to five minutes to avoid being caught.

3. Capybaras are seen on our horseback riding tours in Uruguay along waterways in high grasses and reeds - they can eat 2.7 to 3.6 kg (6 to 8 lbs) of fresh grass a day.

4. The rodents have seven call types- whistles, cries, whines, squeals, barks, clicks, and tooth‐chattering. These calls between group members can be cues, including alerting all to danger from predators and isolation of their young.

5. The Capybara is on the two peso coins of Uruguay.

6. In the 16th century, the Catholic Church classified the capybara, which can swim, as a fish so that the meat could be eaten on Fridays and during Lent.

7. A Capybara can sleep underwater keeping its nose on the banks of the shore to breathe while staying cool during the afternoon sun.

8. Being herbivores, seventy-five percent of a capybara's diet is only three to six plant species.

9. Capybaras' front teeth keep growing for their whole lives, being worn down constantly while eating and continually re-growing.

10. It isn’t uncommon to see some of the 220 species of Uruguay’s coastal inhabitants standing on the banks of rivers and lagoons, on the seashores, in the ocean… and sometimes the heads of resident capybaras.

With such bio-diversity, for more about what the natural reserves of Uruguay have in store when on our riding trips here, contact us with questions and up-to-date information about tours.

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