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How To Sex A Capybara

Updated on July 10, 2011

To Sex A Capybara?

Why would anyone want to know how to sex a Capybara? Well you probably wouldn't unless you were trying to buy a pair. You would also want to know if you were working in a zoo and were given the task of sending a pair or an animal of a particular sex off to another zoo.

Send the wrong sex and apart from getting laughed at it is likely that your mistake will be returning as a constant reminder of your failing. I have chosen to talk about the Capybara because it is the only species which, in my forty years in zoos has been sent to me twice, and it was the wrong sex. There were a number of other species that were mistakenly sexed once.. But twice!

It was not so unusual as it turned out because in telling the tale over a pint or two I have met several others who have had the same experience.


What is a Capybara?

The Capybara Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris is the world's largest rodent. It is found in South America in Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela and Colombia. Adult Capybaras will weigh in the region of 140lbs but specimens of over 200lbs have been recorded. It is extremely fond of water, swims well and spends much of its time feeding the lush green vegetation growing along riverbanks.

The closest relatives to the Capybara are the Guinea Pig, Chinchillas and the Agouti.

Breeding once a year the Capybara can have up to eight in a litter though two to four is more usual. The young are mobile shortly after birth and though they suckle from their mother for some months they will also eat some solid food from just a couple of days of age.

The Capbara breeds well in zoos and is therefore quite common. It is also farmed for meat in some South American countries. The meat was a popular dish for some on Fridays because, as it spent much of time in water, was classed as a fish by some Catholic peasant folk.

Simple Sexing

It really is simple. The sexual apparatus of the Capybara and the Guinea Pig are practically identical. Something that has to be coaxed out gently and confidently. Spend a morning practicing on Guinea Pigs first. Once you are sure then move across to the real thing.

Get assistance. Capybaras have huge teeth, bite very hard and are capable of hanging on. It should never be necessary to sex an 150lb weight Capybara as it will have been obvious from behaviour a long time before. Do the sexing at about weaning time at three to four months as it will be far more manageable. Either place an ear tag or microchip or both so you don't have to do it again.

Box the animal up with confidence to send to another collection.

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Submit a Comment

  • Peter Dickinson profile image

    Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia

    My wife and I did hand rear one once over. A delightful animal really. Clean in the house, affectionate in his way, talkative too. I have never eaten one but yes I probably would. Thanks for reading.

  • Edwin Clark profile image

    Edwin Clark 7 years ago from Thailand by way of New York

    Looks cute Peter, is it good eaten?? Just kidding! ;)