Apr 30, 2006

Wasserschwein

In English, we know this South American rodent (the largest rodent on the planet, and recently introduced to Florida) as the capybara. This word comes from the Guarani word, kapiyva, meaning "master of the grasses."

German speakers, though, know this animal as the Wasserschwein, meaning "water pig." A much more suitable name, no?

These ugly rodents (am I repeating myself?) don't seem very rodentlike. They can grow as big as 140 lbs and almost 6 ft in length. They live in herds, have partially webbed feet, and spend quite a bit of time in and under the water.

One interesting sidenote: back in the 16th century, the Roman Catholic Church designated this mammal as a fish, based upon inaccurate descriptions and the animal's aquatic life. This fish designation makes the capybara eligible to be eaten during Lent. This in turn has led to Venezuelan farmers exporting 400 metric tons of capybara meat annually onto Catholic dinner plates. Capybara fans may want to petition Rome for a change of status. But then, pig (even water pig) is good eating.

Photo source:
Franz

3 comments:

Kelly said...

ROUSes?
Rodents Of Unusual Size? I don't believe they exsist!

Raging Wombat said...

The capybara's territory borders on the Fire Swamp.

Kipluck said...

Capys are SO not Ugly. You all should look up Caplin Rous. http://gianthamster.com/ He shakes hands. He eats yogurt and popicles. That, people, is CUTE. He is NOT UGLY.

Capybaras should not be on this site at all unless it is to compare other animals to in thier humble cuteness.