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Carla the Capybara (13/26)


This is also part of this series: All About Animals (26)

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Grade Level: JK-Gr3
Producer: BBC
Closed Captioned: No
Running Time: 25 mins
Country of Origin: Great Britain
Study Guide: No

Copyright Date: 2004
Available in French: No

The Capybara is the world's largest rodent. It is the size of a sheep, has front teeth shaped like a rabbit's, barks like a dog when alarmed, weighs up to 65kg, and has a top speed on land comparable with a galloping pony, though it is just as happy in water. It has water-resistant fur and webbed feet like an otter. Baby capybaras start swimming at just a few weeks old. They have nostrils which seal tight, and their flipper-like webbed feet help propel them through water. An adult could stay under for up to 5 minutes without coming up for air. Their eyes, ears, and nostrils are all located on the top of their head, so they can see, hear, and breathe as they swim, while remaining almost invisible to predators like Caiman, the main killers of capybaras in this area. But Capybaras don't have much sense. A full grown capybara may weigh as much as human, but its brain is the size of a lemon! Capybaras live their whole lives out in the open air and never use burrows. Unlike other rodents, they are born developed enough to stand on their own four feet and able to eat solid food - that is, grass - within days. Carla is about a week old. She lives in South America, in the swamps and grasslands of Venezuela's Orinoco River. She spends her days grazing and swimming. Carla lives in a family group of about 20 animals – grandmas, aunts, mums and their young. The mums raise the little ones together in a nursery, feeding each other's babies. Each capybara family is headed by one dominant male. Caimans are not the capybara's only foe and we follow Carla as she gets lost in the forest – the domain of the boa and jaguar – and desperately strives to rejoin her family.

Links: http://http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/animals/