Is that a Giant Hamster? Meet the Capybara in Buda.

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Tony Maples Photography


When asked what the biggest rodent on the face of the planet is, most people would respond that it’s probably some type of nuclear rat living in the sewers of New York City. Although this myth may bring out the deranged romantic in many of us, the truth is that the largest rodent in the world may be much bigger than you think.

The World’s Largest Rodent

The world's biggest rodent

Photo: Flickr/Jonathan_siberry

Ladies and gentlemen, meet the Capybara, the true largest rodent on the planet. Capybara are native to South America. At first site many think these are more closely related to beavers or wild pigs. They do prefer similar habitats and are found mostly in jungles and areas near rivers. Fully grown, one of these critters weighs around 120 pounds. And there is one resident of Buda that is turning her Hill Country home into a sanctuary for these giant rodents.

A Giant Hamster?

Baby Capybara frolicking in the swamp

Photo: Flickr/Scott Presnell

Buda resident, Melanie Typaldos, was endeared by the animals when she first encountered them on a trip to Venezuela. At first glance, Typaldos thought the animals resembled giant hamsters. Typaldos reports that it was her daughter who planted the first seed towards becoming an owner/host of one of these quirky creatures.

“My daughter got to hold a little, baby Capybara, and they seemed so calm for wild animals.”

A little more pressing from her daughter and Typaldos was sold. She contacted a breeder and received Caplin, her first. Typaldos had Caplin in her home for three and a half years until Caplin died from liver failure. The veterinarians suspect the liver failure was caused by a toxic buildup from narcotics administered when Caplin was neutered.

A Perfect Pet?


Photo: Flickr/Karoly Lorentey

Although saddened by the loss, Typaldos got back in the saddle with a new Capybara named Mudskipper. “Muddy” as she is called by Typaldos is only about half grown and loves to watch TV.

Typaldos suggests that these “giant hamsters” make great pets as they are relatively tame, learn quickly, and are pack animals by nature.