Capybaras inhabit areas along rivers and streams, lakes, ponds, marshes, and swamps. There are at least three habitat components important for capybaras: water, grass vegetation, and a patch of forest or woodland. At least three regions are well known to harbor conspicuous concentrations of capybara populations: the llanos in Venezuela, the pantanal, mostly in western Brazil, and the Taim lowlands, in southern Brazil.

Capybaras are also abundant in the Amazonian floodplain, comprising all the countries forming the biome, but particularly Marajo Island, located at the mouth of the Amazon river.

In the pantanal of western Brazil there exist vigorous populations of capybaras. Flooding is the most important element to characterize the habitats of the pantanal. When the land dries out, grasslands and scattered pools appear. The capy-bara densities in these grassland fields during the dry season reach spectacular numbers due to the provision of feeding and reproductive habitats. During the floods, the capybara groups subdivide and are largely confined to the woodland and forest patches.

Capybaras are able to take advantage of modified habitats to increase their populations. They rapidly colonize areas sur rounding artificial lakes formed by dams. They also explore habitats that may offer food, even with some degree of pollution, such as the Tiete River in the city of Sao Paulo. Sometimes they cause damage to plantations of corn, rice, manioc, and legumes, and may be hunted for that reason.

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