Capybara (hydrochcerus capydara), the largest of living rodent animals, confined exclusively to South America. It is more than 3 ft. long, with feet so short that its bulky hoglike body, clothed with long coarse hair, almost touches the ground. The dental formula is: incisors, 2/2 and very large; molars, (4-4)/(4-4) = 20, rootless. The head is large, the lips thick and not cleft, the muzzle prominent and blunt; eyes small and high on the head, and ears small; fore feet with 4 toes, hind feet with 3, partly connected by membrane, and ending in piglike hoofs; tail wanting. The color is a dingy gray, with a yellowish tinge. According to Owen, the molars of rodents, as well shown in this animal, come near those of the elephant, the number of transverse plates increasing with the jaw with age, the whole number not coming into use at once. The whole appearance of the capybara is so swinish that it has been called the water hog, as its generic name indicates; it is one of the connecting links between the rodents and the pachyderms. It is an excellent swimmer and diver, and able to remain beneath the surface at least 10 minutes; the height of the eyes enables it to swim with very little of the head exposed.
Its food is vegetable, and is crushed very fine in order to enable it to pass through the very narrow throat. It is found in small herds near the banks of the rivers in tropical South America. It is hunted for its flesh, which is excellent both fresh and salted; the jaguar feeds upon it very largely. When disturbed it makes a loud and prolonged noise.