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04 24/04/2017

World’s largest rodent gives birth at Chester Zoo

  • New arrivals
  • Mammals
  • Capybaras

A playful capybara pup has arrived to 'celebrity' mum, Lily.

Six-year-old mum Lily, who has become a real hit with zoo visitors since she was featured on the Channel 4 TV series The Secret Life of the Zoo, delivered her new pup in front of astonished onlookers.

The tiny youngster, who has not yet been sexed, was soon up on its feet and seen running around, climbing over mum and taking its first swim.

Capybaras are often referred to as giant guinea pigs and can grow to up to 1.5m (4.9ft) in length – roughly the size of Kylie Minogue!

They are found living in small herds on grasslands, in tropical forests and on wetlands across much of South America where they spend much of their time in water.

Their scientific name means ‘water pig’, and their bodies have been specially adapted for swimming - with webbed feet and their eyes, ears and nostrils located on top of their heads.

Although not currently listed as an endangered species, the capybara is threatened by illegal poaching for its meat and skin, which can be turned into leather, as well as habitat degradation. Keepers at the zoo hope that Lily’s new arrival will help to bring some attention to the species, which they say is often overlooked.

Baby Capybara  
Capybara facts
  • The capybara is the largest of the world’s rodent species
  • Their eyes and nostrils are on the tops of their heads so they can stay submerged with very little of their body showing - helping them to avoid detection by predators such as jaguars, anacondas and caiman
  • Like rabbits, they eat their own dung to extract maximum nutrition from their food
  • The scientific name for the capybara means ‘water hog’
  • Mum Lily was born on 30 June 2010
  • Baby Capybara

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