The Largest Rodent in the World

What's the largest living rodent in the world?

And the answer: capybara.

Photo Courtesy: Stephen Meese/Fotolia

Related to the guinea pig but much bigger, capybaras are semi-aquatic mammals, found near bodies of water throughout South America. They're a highly social species, and can be found in groups of 10 to 20 individuals.

In terms of rodents of unusual size, capybaras win the prize. These pig-like creatures are agile in water, with webbed feet and high, alert heads. They are able to move smoothly through high grass to avoid predators, even earning the nickname kapyiva, meaning "master of the grass" in one Native Amazonian language. Such a feat is a handy one for these herbivores – predators such as jaguars, pumas, caimans, snakes and birds of prey all love to feast on packs of capybaras.

When confronted with danger, capybaras can dive underwater to hold their breath for over five minutes. To come up for air, they peep just the tops of their head out of the water while remaining comfortably (and safely) submerged. These rodents are so comfortable in water, they can even doze off.

To learn more about the guinea pig’s larger cousin, check out this National Geographic article, and check out the video below.


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