The Capybara or ‘Watrush’ as it’s known in Guyana is the largest rodent in the world.  It’s scientific name, Hydrochaeris hydrochaeris, means ‘water horse,’ an apt name as they are almost always found near water and have specially adapted partially webbed paws with which give them a distinctive star shaped footprint.

Capybara have heavy, barrel-shaped bodies, with a large, rectangular-shaped heads.  Their eyes are small with their ears set high on their head.  They grow up to 4 feet in length and typically weigh 77 to 150 lbs.  They are a uniform tan or yellowish brown with short fur and from a distance, resemble an overgrown Guinea Pig.  They feed solely on grasses and aquatic vegetation and like all rodents, their teeth grow continually to compensate for the wear caused by their vegetarian diet and constant gnawing. They can be solitary (mainly during the dry season) but can live in family groups from 2 to 20 in open and seasonally flooded savannahs during the rainy season. They are usually diurnal (active at dawn and dusk) and are often seen sitting, dog like on their haunches along the sandy banks of Rupununi River during the dry season.

Photo by G Watkins

When in estrus, the female has the advantage and mating choice; as mating takes place in the water, the female will submerge or leave the water to avoid undesirable males.  Gestation takes about 130-50 days and a litter of 4 pups are usually produced; however a litter of 8 is not uncommon.  Within a week, the babies can eat grass but will continue to suckle for up to 16 weeks.

A favourite prey for jaguar, and also hunted by humans for meat, they are highly vocal and make high-pitched squeaks and grunts when alarmed and will plunge into the water and swim under the surface to escape.  In areas where they are overhunted, they have adapted to feed during the night. Their natural range is from Central to South America (Panama to NE Argentina) and in some countries, they are farmed for their meat and leather.  They are listed by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) but are not considered endangered or threatened; however, due to hunting pressures, they may be more difficult to see along the rivers and inhabited areas of Guyana.

Rain forests are rich in biodiversity and are home to many different plants and animals as well as indigenous communities.
Humans, even those who don’t live in the rain forest, rely on it for resources such as building materials (wood and lianas), medicine and fruits.

Rain forests also provide essential environmental services for life on earth; they create soil as well as prevent soil erosion, produce oxygen through photosynthesis, maintain clean water systems, and are a key defence against climate change.  
The Iwokrama Rain Forest is 371,000 hectares, located in the heart of Guyana. Our mission is to develop strategies for conservation and sustainable development for local people in Guyana and the world at large.

We are involved in timber, tourism and training.  Come and visit us in the rain forest or at http://www

future notes1

Unifying general and technical education

I argued last week that the physical and institutional infrastructure and processes within the education system have changed significantly in recent times.

Latin View

Trump’s coronation was like that of a ‘maximum leader’

I learned in journalism school that what you see often is more important than what you hear, so I decided to turn off the television volume during much of the Republican National Convention that proclaimed Donald Trump as the Republican’s presidential candidate, and to take notes.

default placeholder

Three welcome developments: The appointment of the Tax Chief, the Head of FIU, and the Bid Protest Committee

Three important appointments were recently announced, namely the Commissioner-General of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), the Director of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and members of the three-person Bid Protest Committee.

20160725Dave Chadee

Caribbean chases Zika preparedness, after death of mosquito expert

By Gerard Best   Gerard Best is a researcher and writer covering social issues across the Caribbean and Latin America. Based in Trinidad and Tobago, he is the former New Media Editor at Guardian Media Limited and the Caribbean Communications Network, the country’s largest media companies.

These children enjoyed being pushed home by a cousin


Riverstown, a village on the Essequibo Coast, is pressed between Pomona and Airy Hall. Once you cross the railway-like bridge over a black water creek, you’re in Riverstown, where there are more than 700 residents.


Mobile money: a technological fad or serious economic business?

No one knows Imagine talking to a friend on the phone while thousands of dollars are pressed to your ears and no one knows it. 


About these comments

The comments section is intended to provide a forum for reasoned and reasonable debate on the newspaper's content and is an extension of the newspaper and what it has become well known for over its history: accuracy, balance and fairness. We reserve the right to edit or delete comments which contain attacks on other users, slander, coarse language and profanity, and gratuitous and incendiary references to race and ethnicity.

Stay updated! Follow Stabroek News on Facebook or Twitter.

Get the day's headlines from SN in your inbox every morning: