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Scientific classification
Binomial name
Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris

The Capybara (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris) is the largest of all rodents. Full-grown Capybaras reach between 105 and 135 cm in length, and weigh 35 to 65 kilos. They are native to most of the tropical and temperate parts of South America east of the Andes, always near water. It is the only member of its family, Hydrochoeridae.

Capybaras are excellent swimmers, and have partially webbed feet. They mate in the water, use the water to hide from predators, and can stay submerged for several minutes. Capybaras can even sleep underwater, with only the nose exposed.

Capybaras are herd animals. They spend most of their time on the banks of rivers, feeding in the mornings and evenings. The diet consists of vegetation such as river plants and bark.

In the regions along the Parana river[?] in Southern Brazil, Northern Argentina, and Uruguay, Capybaras are frequently captured and kept as pets, or occasionally hunted for food. Their Spanish name is Carpincho.

When Spanish missionaries first found Capybaras in Brazil during the 16th century, they wrote to the Pope for guidance, saying "there is an animal here that is scaly but also hairy, and spends most of its time in the water but occasionally comes on land; can we classify it as a fish?" The question was significant, as the Catholic faith forbids eating meat during Lent. Not having a clear description of the animal (and not wanting the petitioners to starve), the Pope agreed and declared that the Capybara a fish.

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