What Do Capybaras Eat

Ever seen a giant rodent and wondered what it eats?

Capybaras are herbivores. They mostly eat plants, grasses, and leaves. Want to know more about their unique diets and how they keep those ever-growing teeth in check?

Let’s dive into the world of capybara cuisine!

Capybara eating 1

Capybara Diet: What They Eat and What to Feed Them

Capybaras have a diverse diet that varies depending on their environment and the season. Capybaras enjoy a diverse diet that includes a variety of plants, grasses, and even fruits and vegetables.

Let’s explore their dietary preferences in greater detail. We’ll focus on their wet season diet, dry season diet and unusual eating habits.

Wet Season Diet

Capybaras have an abundance of food resources during the wet season. They are very selective about what they eat.

They primarily consume five or so species of grasses during this time. This constitutes about 80% of their overall diet. The vegetation they prefer is high in protein and energy.

Capybara eating grass

Wet season foods include leaves, grasses, herbaceous plants, reeds, water hyacinths, crops, grains, seeds, and other vegetables.

Capybaras are social animals. They often gather in groups to forage for food. This helps them find the best sources of nourishment and also provides protection from potential predators.

Dry Season Diet

Food availability decreases When the dry season rolls around. The quality of the plants capybaras typically eats during the wet season declines. They have to adapt their diet to the changing environment. Capybaras primarily consume reeds and grains. These are readily available.

Capybaras need to find alternative sources of nutrition. Melons and squashes also become part of their diet during this time.

Capybaras always remain selective about what they eat. This ensures they maintain a healthy diet.

If you have a pet capybara, it’s essential to provide them with high-quality grass, reeds, grains, melons, and sugar cane during the dry season. You should not provide high-fat foods, such as peanuts, sunflower seeds, and birdseed to your Capys. You should also avoid foods with added sugar, like candy and junk food.

Unusual Diet

While capybaras primarily consume vegetation, they also have an unusual diet component: They practice coprophagy, meaning they eat their own feces.

This behavior is common among rodents like capybaras, guinea pigs, lagomorphs like hares and pikas, baby elephants, hippos, and some nonhuman primates.

But why do capybaras eat their own poop?

Capybara feces are a source of bacterial gut flora. This helps them digest the cellulose in the grass that forms their normal diet. Consuming their feces allows capybaras to extract the maximum protein and vitamins from their food. This ensures they get the most nutrition possible.

Capybaras typically eat their feces in the morning. This helps them absorb nutrients from the food they’ve consumed the previous day. This unusual diet component is a vital part of their digestive process.

The diet of a capybara is diverse and changes depending on the season and food availability. By understanding the unique dietary needs of capybaras, we can help them thrive in their natural habitats and our homes.

How Much Food Does a Capybara Eat?

You might be amazed to discover the sheer amount of food a capybara can eat every single day. An adult capybara can eat an impressive six to eight pounds of grass daily. This is approximately 3% to 4% of their body weight!

Their non-perpendicular jaw hinge allows them to grind food back and forth. They can effectively chew even the toughest plants without any issues.

Capybaras also eat their own feces, which might seem unappetizing to us. But it is actually quite beneficial for these fascinating creatures.

Capybaras eat their protein-rich poop which gives their previous meal another round of digestion and helps them absorb more nutrients. This unusual eating habit highlights their remarkable ability to adapt and stay healthy.

What do different types of Capybaras eat?

Capybaras have slightly different diets based on their breed. There are two types of capybaras: the lesser capybara which is found in Colombia and Venezuela. And the greater capybara which is found across the Amazon and into Argentina.

Both capybara types mainly eat aquatic plants and grasses. But their diets vary based on local vegetation in their habitats.

Capybara Diet Facts

  • Capybaras are herbivores. They mainly consume plants, grasses, and leaves.
  • Their diet varies based on environment and season.
  • During the wet season, capybaras prefer high-protein grasses and aquatic plants.
  • In the dry season, capybaras eat reeds, grains, melons, and squashes.
  • They remain selective eaters to maintain a healthy diet.
  • An adult capybara can consume 6-8 pounds of grass daily.
  • Capybaras contribute to ecosystem balance by controlling plant growth and enriching soil with their droppings.
  • They occasionally eat small animals like fish, and their diet may vary based on breed and habitat.
  • In captivity, they require vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables to prevent diseases like scurvy.
  • Foods like chocolate should be avoided as they are toxic to capybaras.
  • They may eat paper instinctively due to their large teeth but it’s not recommended.
  • Capybaras eat leaves, bananas, oranges, ferns, insects, and sometimes flowers.
  • Pet capybaras need hay, vegetables, and pellets, with occasional fruits and insects.
  • Sweet, artificial, or high-fat foods are not good for Capybaras.
  • Coprophagy (eating their own poop) is a natural and healthy behavior for capybaras.

How Does The Diet of a Capybara Impact Other Species?

Capybaras play a significant role in maintaining the balance of their ecosystems by consuming 3-4% of their body weight in vegetation daily.

By feeding on various plants, including invasive species that could overwhelm river and lake ecosystems, capybaras help keep plant growth in check.

In regions like Brazil’s Pantanal, where dry seasons can be severe, capybaras adapt their diets to consume more reeds instead of grasses. This eating habit not only helps control invasive plants but also benefits native plant species by maintaining soil quality and environmental conditions.

Capybaras indirectly contribute to the growth of healthy plants. Their nutrient-rich droppings enrich the soil, promoting the growth of native vegetation.

Capybaras are an essential food source for predators such as jaguars, caimans, and ocelots. Capybaras play a crucial role in the food chain, supporting the overall health of their ecosystems.

Frequently Asked Questions About Capybara Diet

Vitamin- C and Capybara Diseases 

Despite their healthy diet of plants, seeds, and vegetables, capybaras are unable to synthesize essential vitamin C by themselves. Capybaras in Captivity must consume fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C, such as carrots and apples.

Without supplemental vitamin C, capybaras are at risk of developing gum diseases like scurvy. This can be detrimental to their health.

What plants do Capybaras eat?

Capybaras generally consume plants, including a variety of different grasses and other vegetation. Their diverse diet allows capybaras to adapt and flourish in different environments. Be it in the wild, the rainforest, or even zoos.

What fruits do Capybaras eat?

Capybaras enjoy a range of fruits like bananas, apples, mangoes, and melons. These fruits offer capybaras essential minerals, vitamins, and fiber, contributing to their well-being.

Do Capybaras Eat Meat?

Capybaras are primarily herbivores but some report suggests that they occasionally eat meat, including small mammals, reptiles, fish, and even birds. But these claims are unconfirmed.

According to scientific sources, Capybara depends only on plants and vegetation. In the wild, they may consume a more diverse range of plant-based foods than those kept in captivity

What Do Capybaras Eat In The Wild?

Did you know that capybaras have ever-growing front teeth?

They use their long, sharp teeth to chomp through plants found near and around water bodies.

An adult capybara can eat up to 8 pounds of vegetation per day! Their diet mainly consists of grains, fruits, and other foods that grow on land, especially during summer when water plants are scarce.

Capybara eating watermelon
Capybara eating watermelon

Capybaras have been found to eat their own poop to help digest the thick fiber present in their meals. This allows them to ingest proteins and other nutrients in higher numbers. Capybaras in the wild sometimes eat small mammals, reptiles, fish, and even birds!

What do Capybaras eat in the rainforest?

The rainforest offers a different environment for capybaras. The competition for food is higher in this lush setting. Capybaras eat fruits, leaves, and even insects. They don’t shy away from small mammals, reptiles, fish, and birds if they can find them. Talk about being resourceful!

What do Capybaras eat in zoos?

Capybaras in zoos enjoy a slightly different diet, typically consisting of hay, vegetables, and pellets. These adaptable animals also occasionally eat fruits and insects. In a zoo setting, capybaras usually eat around two to four pounds of food per day.

Do Capybaras drink water?

Indeed, capybaras drink water and usually spend about four hours each day grazing and hydrating. Living near water bodies helps them stay well-hydrated.

Capybara drinking

Do baby Capybaras drink milk?

Absolutely, Baby capybaras drink milk and typically nurse for around three months before transitioning to solid food.

What do adult Capybaras eat?

Adult capybaras primarily consume grasses and various plants. As they age, their diet expands to include small mammals, reptiles, fish, and birds.

What do baby Capybaras eat?

Born with teeth, baby capybaras start eating solid food at around two weeks old. Initially, they drink their mother’s milk and gradually shift to consuming grasses and plants. Eventually, their diet includes small mammals, reptiles, fish, and birds.

Do Capybaras eat carrots?

Yes, capybaras do consume carrots.

Can Capybaras eat chocolate?

No, capybaras should avoid chocolate. The theobromine present in chocolate is toxic to capybaras. This could result in health issues including vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, or potentially life-threatening scenarios.

Can Capybaras eat paper?

Capybaras can eat paper, but it’s not healthy. Their natural diet is vegetation like grass, plants, and fruits. Chewing paper is instinctive for them due to their large teeth. However, it’s best to avoid feeding them paper to prevent digestive issues.

Do Capybaras eat leaves?

Yes, Capybaras eat leaves. They’re picky eaters, favoring certain leaves over others

Do Capybaras eat banana trees?

Capybaras do enjoy fruits, but they don’t typically eat entire banana trees. They may nibble on bananas if available, but they don’t topple entire groves. Banana trees are not nutritious for them and are hard to digest.

Do capybaras eat bugs?

Yes, capybaras may occasionally eat bugs.

Do Capybaras eat fish?

Yes, capybaras occasionally eat fish. Especially when other food sources are scarce. 

Do Capybaras eat Flowers?

Yes, capybaras may eat flowers. But flowers are not a significant part of their diet. 

Can Capybaras eat Oranges?

Yes, Capybaras can eat Oranges.

Do Capybaras Eat Ferns

Yes, Capybaras can eat ferns. But they prefer tastier and more nutritious plants.

Do Capybaras eat insects?

Yes, Capybaras do occasionally eat insects. They are opportunistic eaters that consume what’s available, including insects, snails, and crabs.

What do pet Capybaras eat?

Pet Capybaras generally eat hay, vegetables, and pellets, with occasional fruits and insects. Zoo capybaras consume about two to four pounds of food daily. Pet capybaras require ample space, attention, and shouldn’t be left alone for long durations.

What type of grass do Capybaras eat?

Capybaras eat various grasses and plants. But they particularly enjoy watergrass, an aquatic grass found in wetland areas.

What animals do Capybaras eat?

Capybaras are primarily herbivores, eating different grasses and plants. Some say that they occasionally consume small mammals, reptiles, fish, and birds but this claim isn’t confirmed.

What To Never Feed Capybaras

There are certain things to avoid while feeding Capybaras. Avoid sweet, artificial, and soft foods for capybaras. This type of food can lead to severe dental issues and even death. Also, avoid peanuts or high-fat foods, even though they need to chew.

Do Capybaras Eat Their Own Poop?

You might be surprised to learn that capybaras eat their poop. It’s entirely normal behavior for them! Their poop contains protein and vitamins. Don’t worry if you see them doing this – it’s natural and healthy for them.

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