[close] × Fota Wildlife Park Covid-19 Update

Following the most recent Government announcement Fota Wildlife Park is set to re-open on the 26th April.

On-line booking pages will re-open on the 19th April.


Capybara Animals & Plants

About the Capybara

The largest rodent in the world, the Capybara stands about two feet tall and is a heavy, barrel-shaped animal with a short head and legs. It can weigh up to 65kg - females are slightly heavier than males - and its nostrils, eyes and ears are all positioned high up on its head to suit its semi-aquatic life. Its toes are webbed and its abilities in water are reflected in its scientific name (Hydrochoerus), which means ‘water hog’. It can even stay underwater for up to five minutes.


The species is found along Central and South American riverbanks as well as near ponds, marshes or whatever water is available. It’s a social animal and lives in groups of between ten and 30 individuals, which are led by one dominant male. The female gives birth on land, producing a litter each year and the young are well developed as soon as they are born.

Wild Notes

Capys are a vocal species - constantly emitting a churring purr when active but also barking, chirping and whistling on occasion. It has a life span of between four and eight years in the wild - being hunted by predators the likes of anacondas, jaguars and eagles - but is known to live up to 12 years in capacity.


The species is not endangered and is even farmed for its meat and skin.

Did you know?

Capybara skin is particularly prized in the making of fine gloves because of its unusual tendency to only stretch in one direction. In fact, it is highly valued in South America, where there is a large internal market for the skin.

The Fota Connection

Once allowed to roam freely around the Park, the Capys have been part of the South American enclosure - along with the Mara and Brazilian Tapir - since the particularly cold winter of 2011. It eats a lot of vegetation and has a temperature-controlled house in the pen if it needs to go indoors for additional warmth. Several pups have been born in the Park over the years and when pregnant females could move around on their own terms, they tended to give birth near the lake area.