Reproductive biology

Depending on the quality of the habitat, capybaras breed throughout the year, presenting a peak of reproduction when more feeding grounds are available. Copulation usually occurs in the water. The forest and woodland provide shelter from midday heat and a resting place, as well as a birth place. The gestation period is about 147 days and it is possible that this length may be influenced by environmental and social variables. Litter size is one to seven, averaging 3.5 neonates,

Capybaras (Hydrochaeris hydrochaeris) grazing on aquatic vegetation. (Photo by Erwin and Peggy Bauer. Bruce Coleman, Inc. Reproduced by permission.)

each weighing about 3 lb (1,400 g). Lactation period is about 10 weeks. However, at certain times of year, it is possible to observe a female with 10 or more young of different ages and sizes. It is believed that the group of young are relatives, and one lactating female takes turns caring her own young and those of her sister or relative. The sex ratio for the population in the field averages one male to three females. At birth, the sex ratio averages one male to one female, but due to the social structure, this relation changes. As soon as the subadults begin to attain sexual maturity, some are excluded from the group, mainly males, by the dominant males. These excluded subadults become satellite or solitary individuals. Under stress, these animals are susceptible to diseases.

Before capybaras die, their bodily appearance declines visibly. A sick individual is often isolated from the group. In ad-

What Are Mammals
The capybara (Hydrochaeris hydrochaeris) is the largest rodent. (Photo by M. Wendler/OKAPIA/Photo Researchers, Inc. Reproduced by permission.)
Epiglottis Malfunction
The capybara (Hydrochaeris hydrochaeris) forages using its incisors to cut the grass above the root. (Photo by Christian Grzimek/OKAPIA/ Photo Researchers, Inc. Reproduced by permission.)

dition, capybaras are preferred prey for jaguars and young are captured by anacondas and other predators.

0 0

Post a comment