This year marks the 25th anniversary of the movie The Princess Bride. This presents me with a plethora of post potential, but I have finally decided to focus on R.O.U.S.: Rodents of Unusual Size.
So in honor of this guy…
…let’s take a look at this guy…
…a real-life R.O.U.S.
That there is a capybara.
Capybaras are the largest rodents in the world. A full-grown cap (my nickname for the capybara — not okay if you’re talking to someone who cares about accurate rodential nomenclature) can be the size of a baby hippo.
If you want to find a capybara in its native ghetto, try the South and Central American rainforest & tropical grassland, near or in water. But caps also travel – this one went on holiday in Cali.
The neighbors usually stick together, led by a dominant male. You might see 10 or 20 or even 30 caps hanging out together in a family group, and sometimes family groups will band together into herds of up to 100. Everybody keeps a lookout for bad guys (jaguars, caimans, anacondas, and folks with guns), and whoever spots danger alerts the rest of them so they can run or swim away. All I’m sayin’ is, it ain’t easy to bust a cap in this ‘hood. (Er, sorry…I had to try it.)
These critters are herbivores, so their daily grub is mostly grass and water plants. In fact, if they don’t eat enough tough grass, their teeth will get too long (because like all rodents, their 4 incisors keep growing their whole lives). On occasion, caps will partake of a bit of gourmet cuisine, like melons or squash.
Mostly, caps eat out during twilight time, which makes them crepuscular. But if there are lots of bad guys near the ‘hood, they’ll behave a bit more nocturnally.
The other important c-word to describe the cap’s eating habits is coprophagy. In order for food to provide enough nutrients, it requires two rounds through the capybara’s digestive system. So caps eat their own poo. Don’t worry, it’s cool. They like it.
Boy capybaras emit a paste from their nose which they wipe on the girls to “claim” them, making capybaras not entirely unlike 1st graders. They also chase the girls in and out of the water to show them they’re interested (also 1st grade behavior). When the boy and girl finally reach an agreement, capybaras do it in the water.
A litter is usually 4 or 5 babies, and all the gals in the family group will take care of everybody else’s kids. I told you it was a tightly knit neighborhood.
Capybaras: The Trivia Night Run-down
- They can stay underwater for nearly 5 minutes at a time.
- Some people keep them as pets.
- They’re very vocal. Babies purr, and adults communicate with barks, grunts, chirps, and whistles.
- They have webbed feet.
- They dig wallows, which are shallow ditches that fill with water and mud. Then they…well, wallow in them.
- In the wild, caps live 8-10 years.
Okay, folks, that’s all I’ve got for you on real-life R.O.U.S.
To find out more, you can visit The Capybara Page.