Are Capybaras just giant Guinea Pigs?

And now it’s time for Who Smarted?
Narrator: Psst, hey, Smarty Pants, I’m pretty excited because today I’m meeting a new friend named Captain Barry or at least, I think that’s what they said on the phone. I wasn’t getting good reception, and I was in a noisy room.
Anyway, he described himself as large, hairy, and he said he likes to spend a lot of time in or near the water. Hmm, Captain Barry loves the water, is large and hairy. You’re thinking what I’m thinking? Could Captain Barry be a pirate? Well, it wouldn’t be the first time we had a pirate on Who Smarted? There was the Earthquakes episode and the Pirates episode, of course. Oh, look, I mean listen, I spot some pirates sitting over yonder. Maybe one of them is Captain Barry. Come on!
Hi, excuse me, I’m the trusty narrator. I’m looking for Captain Barry. Would you be he?
Redbeard: Arr, the name’s Redbeard. That’d be Bluebeard and Yellowbeard and Long John Silverbeard.
Narrator: I see. Sorry to bother you. Hmm, I wonder where Captain Barry be. I mean, is?
Capybara: Excuse me, are you the Trusty narrator?
Narrator: Why, yes, I am. You’re not Captain Barry, are you?
Capybara: No.
Narrator: Yes, I didn’t think so. And while you are large and hairy and hanging out by the water, you clearly aren’t a pirate. You’re not wearing a pirate hat or have a hook hand or even an eye patch. But you do have adorable whiskers.
Capybara: Um, what makes you sure you’re meeting a pirate?
Narrator: Because I’m supposed to meet Captain Barry. And while that might not be as piratey sounding as red, blue, yellow, or silverbeard, it still sounds pirate-like.
Capybara: Well, I’m supposed to meet the Trusty narrator here, and I’m a capybara.
Narrator: A capybara? A capybara? Hmm, maybe they said “Capybara” and I heard “Captain Barry.” I did say I had lousy cell phone reception. But wait, Smarty Pants, what is a capybara? Is it,
A- A pirate in disguise?
B- A type of whale?
Or C- A type of rodent?
The answer is C. Capybaras are part of the rodent species.
Capybara: In fact, we’re the largest of all the rodent species. We can weigh up to 175 pounds and grow over 2 feet or 0.6 meters tall, much bigger than the largest rodent in North America, the beaver. We’re about the same size or bigger than a Labrador retriever.
Narrator: Wow! No offense, but you kind of look like a giant guinea pig, which is only the cutest thing ever.
Capybara: No offense taken. We’re related to guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, and all the rodents you met on the rodent’s episode of Who Smarted, which somehow failed to mention me.
Narrator: Sorry, it’s only a 15-minute show. But look, now you have your own episode, and we get to learn all kinds of fun things about capybaras. Like, “Where do capybaras live? What do capybaras do in the water? What do capybaras eat? And are capybaras friendly when you’re not offending them by omitting them from a rodent’s episode.
Capybara: Mm-hmm.
Narrator: It’s time for another whiff of science on… Who Smarted? Who Smarted? Who Smarted? Is it you? Is it me? Is it science? Or history? Listen up, everyone, we make smarting lots of fun, on Who Smarted?
Narrator: I’m here in the rainforest with my friend Captain Barry. I mean, Capybara. Like I said, you kind of look like a giant guinea pig. But maybe, can you describe yourself so the Smarty Pants can get a full picture of what you look like?
Capybara: Well, as you heard, we’re very large. We’re covered in soft, luxurious brown hair. But some capybaras can be reddish or gray.
Narrator: Ooh, like Redbeard and Long John Silverbeard.
Capybara: Who?
Narrator: Never mind. Please, continue.
Capybara: Capybaras have no tails. Our eyes, ears, and noses are near the tops of our heads, so they’re easy to keep out of the water when we swim. Our ears look like mouse ears. We’re also kind of like hippos, because we love swimming and eating grass.
Narrator: And where do capybaras like to live?
Capybara: Well, capybaras are semi-aquatic. That means we spend a lot of time in the water. But we also love to eat plants.
Narrator: Ooh, Smarty Pants. Knowing that, where would be a good place for capybaras to live?
• Would it be the arctic?
• The desert?
• Or the rainforest?
Did you say, “The rainforest?”
Capybara: Yep, we can find lots of food and water in the rainforest. You can find capybaras in every country of South America except Chile, and in some parts of Central America. There’s also a small population of capybaras in Florida.
Narrator: Interesting. So, as a water mammal, you must be a pretty good swimmer.
Capybara: No, we’re great swimmers. That’s because we have something on our bodies that helps us swim.
Narrator: Smarty Pants, what do capybaras have to help them swim? Is it,
A- Webbed feet?
B- Fins?
C- Floaties?
While a capybara would look adorable in floaties, the answer is A, webbed feet.
Capybara: Our partly webbed feet work like flippers, helping us swim. We’re also excellent divers. And we can hold our breath for five minutes.
Narrator: Wow, that’s about five times longer than me. What about you, Smarty Pants? Yes, there’s no way.
But I don’t understand. Many rodents, like mice and rats, are not known to swim. So, why do you like the water so much?
Capybara: Well, like I said, we’re also related to beavers who are also water lovers. But we mostly sit in the water to stay cool. Being so big and hairy means needing to cool down and get comfy. But we don’t spend all of our time in the water, we’re actually pretty quick on land.
Narrator: Really?
Capybara: Oh, yes. We can run up to 22 miles per hour. That’s almost as fast as a car driving through a neighborhood.
Narrator: Wow. Please don’t take this the wrong way, but you’re a lot faster than you look.
Capybara: I get it. With our big bodies and short legs, we look kind of clumsy, so you probably expected us to move slowly. And we do like to take nice, slow walks in groups over land we call our territory.
Narrator: Speaking of groups, Smarty Pants, what do you call a group of capybaras living together? Is it,
A- A crew?
B- A herd?
Or C- A berry?
If you said, “A herd,” nice job. But how many capybaras live in a herd?
Capybara: We usually live in groups of up to 20. But when herds share water, like in dry times, there might be 100 capybaras living together.
Narrator: That’s a lot of cuteness in one place.
Capybara: Say, Trusty, you don’t mind if I took a quick plant break?
Narrator: Be my guest.
Capybara: Great.
Narrator: Smarty Pants, how much food do you think capybaras can eat in a day? Is it,
• 5?
• 8?
• Or 10 pounds?
If you said, “8 pounds,” you’re right.
Capybara: Yep. The largest rodents are also big eaters. We might stay up all night eating. Grasses are probably our favorite food, but all that fiber can be hard to digest. So, there’s something else capybaras have to eat.
Narrator: Let’s see if me and the Smarty Pants can guess. Um, pizza? No, no. Ice cream? Nah. Oh, how about meat cake?
Capybara: Oh, no. We’re strict vegetarians.
Narrator: Hmm. I don’t know. Me and the Smarty Pants give up.
Capybara: Here, I’ll show you.
Narrator: Oh, boy. Did you just eat your poop?
Capybara: Yes. Sorry, Trusty. But just like other rodents, we capybaras eat our poop so we can digest our food twice.
Narrator: Well, while that may sound disgusting to humans, if it’s what you have to do to stay healthy, who am I to judge? But maybe you could do that when I’m not around.
Capybara: Sure thing, trusty. There’s nothing cute about eating poop.
Narrator: Moving on.
Capybara: Say, if you think adult capybaras are cute, you should see us as babies. In fact, do you know what baby capybaras are called?
Narrator: Capybara?
Capybara: No.
Narrator: Um, well, hold that thought. We’ll learn all about baby capybaras right after this quick break.

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Now back to Who Smarted?
Narrator: I’m with Captain Barry, I mean Capybara, and they were just telling us about cute, adorable capybabies.
Capybara: That’s not what they’re called.
Narrator: Right, right, right. So, what are baby capybaras called? Are they,
A- piglets?
B- kitties?
C- pups?
The answer is pups. So cute and small.
Capybara: Yep. Newborn capybaras only weigh about three pounds. That’s just a bit more than an adult guinea pig, who, of course, we’re related to. But we grow quickly. And by the time a capybara is 18 weeks old, it can weigh 88 pounds.
Narrator: Ugh, they grow up so fast.
[Capybara barking]
Narrator: Whoa! What’s that barking? Are those pups or puppies?
Capybara: Nope. Capybara’s bark is a warning sound when we spot a predator. In this case, I spotted a caiman, which is an alligator-like animal that likes to hunt capybaras.
Narrator: I see. Well, it looks like the caiman got the hint because it swam away.
Capybara: Oh, good. Even though we’re big, we are still prey for other animals. Crocodiles, Jaguars and anacondas are our biggest predators in the rainforest?
Narrator: Oh, I see. Smarty Pants, did you know you can tell if an animal is a prey animal or a hunter by where their eyes are placed? There’s even a little rhyme to help you remember. It goes, “Eyes on the side, they hide. Eyes in the front, they hunt.”
Capybara: Ooh, that’s good to know, Trusty. Now I know I don’t have to worry about any animal giving me side-eye.
Narrator: Right. So, is barking how capybara communicate?
Capybara: Yes, but we also yelp, chirp, growl, and purr. Sometimes we even sound like birds. We can also twitch our ears as a silent signal that something’s not right.
Narrator: That’s pretty smart. I have to say, it’s been really nice hanging out with you, capybara. Are all capybara as friendly as you?
Capybara: Oh, yes. Aside from our predators, we get along well with many other animals. In fact, we’re sometimes called “The friendliest wild animal in the world.” Sometimes we even let smaller animals sit on us and take them for a ride.
Narrator: Oh, my goodness. This is just a cuteness overload. I can’t stand how adorable this all is. Um, did you just flop into a giant mud puddle and get disgustingly dirty? And are you now rolling around in the mud, splattering it everywhere, like all over me?
Capybara: Sorry, Trusty. Capybaras love wallowing in mud, because, just like sitting in water, it keeps us cool. And since we don’t use sunscreen, it also keeps us from getting sunburns.
Our fur is thin and doesn’t offer a lot of protection. Think of the modest nature sunscreen.
Narrator: Right. Well, hopefully, I won’t get sunburned either now. Last question, Smarty Pants, True or false? In some places, capybaras can be kept as pets.
Capybara: The answer, surprisingly, is “True”. However, while some people do keep capybaras as pets, there’s some things you should know before you adopt one. Capybaras are highly intelligent and sensitive and usually get along well with people and other animals, but we’re not easy to care for, since we need a lot of food and a place to swim.
And while we’re usually very friendly, like most wild animals, if provoked or threatened, we may bite.
Narrator: Yes, I’m going to say it’s probably a better idea to visit capybaras at the zoo than have one as pets. Many zoos in the United States have capybaras. Smarty Pants, I highly advise going to check them out. They’re so cute.
Capybara: And some zoos even let you pet and feed us. And you know how much capybaras like to eat.
Narrator: Same with Trusty narrators. Should we grab some lunch?
“Ooh, does anyone want meat cake?’
Capybara: No!
Narrator: No!

A double shout out to Elise and Amelia in Lincoln Park, New Jersey, who love listening to Who Smarted because it’s so funny. Well, we take our humor very seriously at Who Smarted, so you can keep laughing your Smarty Pants off.

This episode, “Capybaras,” was written by Sarah Sweetick and voiced by Cappa Sarah Sweetick, Adam Tex-Davis, and Jerry Kolber.
Technical direction and sound design by Josh Hahn.
Who Smarted is recorded and mixed at the Relic Room Studios. Our associate producer is Max Kamaski. The theme song is by Brian Suarez, with lyrics written and performed by Adam Tex-Davis.
Who Smarted was created and produced by Adam Tex-Davis and Jerry Kolber.
This has been an Atomic Entertainment Production.