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Capybaras (Hydrochoerus spp.) Fact Sheet: Distribution & Habitat

Distribution

Prehistoric distribution

  • North America, Central America, West Indies, South America
  • Historically, before livestock introduced: riparian regions throughout South and Central America

Current distribution

H. hydrochaeris

  • Venezuela to NE Argentina
  • Large, continuous distribution in South America
  • Portions of Columbia, the Guianas, Suriname
  • Paraguay and Uruguay
  • Northeastern Argentina
  • Amazonian Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia
  • Concentrations in:
    • Llanos of Venezuela
    • Pantanal wetlands of western Brazil
    • Taim lowlands of southern Brazil

H. isthmius

  • Eastern Panama
  • Northern coastal Colombia and Venezuela
  • Much smaller geographic distribution than H. hydrochaeris

Habitat

Lowlands, from open plains to tropical rain forests; always near water

  • Swampy, marshy, grassy areas bordering rivers, ponds, streams, lakes
  • Prefer nutrient-rich muddy rivers with aquatic grasses
  • Need extensive meadows at low water times

Habitat specialists

  • Use open water for drinking, wallowing, predator protection
  • Use dry land for foraging, resting
  • Grassy patches and brushy scrub both essential in extremes of dry and wet seasons

Ecology largely unknown until 1966

  • Venezuelan government began studies in Llanos region

Distribution Map

Capybara distribution map

 

Capybara distribution.

Adapted from www-d.-maps.com according to IUCN fact sheet. Click here or on map for detailed distribution (IUCN).

Page Citations

Herrera & Macdonald (1989)
Mones & Ojasti (1986)
Verdade &. Ferraz (2006)

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