The capybara is sometimes called a giant guinea pig. The animals can grow up to 120 centimetres long and 56 centimetres tall, and they can weigh up to 50 kilograms. Their heads can be quite big and their nostrils and eyes are placed high on the head. This is practical for swimming.
Capybaras are social animals that live in groups of about 20 animals. A group consists of a dominant male, some females with their young and young males. The animals are active in the twilight, that is they are most active at the beginning and at the end of the day. During the hot hours at daytime they rest in the water.
The capybara is a grazing herbivore, its diet mainly consists of grasses and aquatic plants.
In zoos it is important that the animals are kept in groups and that there is always water present. This water has to be deep enough for the capybara to stand in. The capybara food should consist of grasses and plants in which branches are required to erode the teeth. In zoos situated in temperate and cold climatic zones the capybaras also need indoor housing.