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Hydrochaeris hydrochaeris

Regulatory Status

The State of Florida lists Capybaras as Class III wildlife. This means that a permit is not currently required to possess capybaras as personal pets. However, the state does require a license/ permit for exhibition and sale. Please follow this link for Nonnative Species Permit Applications and Information.


Capybaras are the largest of rodents, they weigh between 35- 66 kg (77- 145 lbs) and are about 1.2 meters (4 feet) in length, with the females being slightly larger than the males. Their fur is coarse, thin, and usually reddish brown over most of the body, turning a yellowish brown on the belly and sometimes black on the face. Their bodies are barrel-shaped and tailless, with the front legs being slightly shorter than the hind legs, and the feet being partially webbed. This, in addition to the location of the eyes, ears, and nostrils on top of the head, make capybaras well-suited to a semi-aquatic lifestyle.

Capybaras tend to live in groups of around 10 adults of both sexes, with larger groups around water resources during the dry season. It is clear to researchers that group living is extremely important to their survival.


Capybaras are grazers, feeding mainly on grasses and aquatic plants, however, they occasionally consume bark and fruit. They are also coprophagous and spend part of each morning re-ingesting the previous day’s food.

Native Range

Capybaras are a South American rodent species. Their range extends throughout most of Brazil, Uruguay, Venezuela, and Columbia, south into the Argentinian pampas, and west to the Andes.

Florida Distribution

Currently Capybaras are classified as an observed species because no established population has been definitively confirmed. There have been sightings spread throughout the state with a potential established population in the Gainesville area. Click this link to see where the species has been reported in Florida.

Potential Impacts

Some potential impacts of Capybaras are that they sometimes raid gardens or farms in search of food, such as melons, squashes, or grains and have also been hypothesized to be carriers of certain livestock diseases.