01 January 2009

In Country: Feliz Ano Novo!

On the way to the grocery store the other day, Jocelyn and I passed by the gates to the Coffee Museum. Since we have had a hard time finding museums open this week because of the holiday, and since the gates were open, we decided to stop and ask about the museum's hours. A mustached guard leaned against the wall when we approached. Lounging around the grassy area next to the guard shack were several capybaras, a dog-sized rodent which lives in herds and eats plants. In short, the capybaras is a very large vegetarian rat. When we approached, a couple of these odd looking animals picked themselves up from the grass and waddled across the road. The guard explained that the Coffee Museum would be closed until February, and that right now it was being used as a capybaras preserve.

Unfortunately I had not brought my camera. Who would have thought that I would encounter a capybara on the way to shopping? So this photo is courtesy of WildlandAdventures.com.

The word capybara means something like "king of the grass" which describes the main ingredient in their diet. An adult can weigh up to 140 pounds, and grows to about 2 feet high. They are fast runners and strong swimmers, and usually spend several hours a day in and around water. If they do not get into the water frequently, their skin will dry out and crack.

Found only in South America, the red area on the map shows the capybaras' range. For more information about the cabybaras this link will take you to an online biology class with Earlham College in the UK http://www.earlham.edu/~martilu/capybarapage.htm .

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