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World's Largest Rodent Born at San Diego Zoo!


The San Diego Zoo welcomed a new Capybara on March 7. The baby was born to a first-time mother, Rose, and could be seen running around the exhibit just hours after it was born. Rose is taking great care of her offspring, which nurses several times a day. Animal care staff expects nursing to continue for another 15 weeks. In addition to nursing, the baby has already started eating solid foods, including broccoli and apple. Capybaras are born with incisor teeth and keepers have seen the baby chewing on branches and trees around the exhibit.

Photo credits: Ken Bohn

Capybaras are the largest rodent in the world. They spend a lot of time in the water, have webbed feet to help them swim and can stay underwater to hide from predators for up to five minutes. Their ears, eyes and nostrils are all found near the top of the head, like a hippopotamus, so the capybaras can lift their head to survey the surroundings while the rest of the body hides in the water.

Capybaras are found in Central and South America but lived in Southern California during the Pleistocene epoch, 12,000 years ago. Fossil remains of a capybara were found in San Diego County in 1995. This discovery also tells us that Southern California was a wetter environment during the Pleistocene, because modern capybaras don’t stray far from water.

The 100-acre San Diego Zoo is dedicated to the conservation of endangered species and their habitats. The organization focuses on conservation and research work around the globe, educates millions of individuals a year about wildlife and maintains accredited horticultural, animal, library and photo collections.  The Zoo also manages the 1,800-acre San Diego Zoo Safari Park (historically referred to as the Wild Animal Park), which includes a 900-acre native species reserve, and the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research.  The important conservation and science work of these entities is supported in part by The Foundation of the Zoological Society of San Diego.