Attack of the Giant Rodents

Two days after the author talk at Mysterious Galaxy, I was taken on a tour of the world famous San Diego Zoo, by none other than zoo volunteer and well known giraffe-kisser L.T. Host. (If you've ever seen her avatar, you'll know what I mean.)

LT and friends
Only a couple of weeks before, L.T. had upgraded from giraffes to her very own husband, Scott, who is an incredibly nice guy, and very patient with out-of-towners disrupting his life.

LT and husband Scott. Giraffes now forsaken.
Scott and L.T. introduced me to the native food of San Diego: fish tacos.

I'll ignore every animal in the wildly fantastic zoo except for these:



This is a capybara. It's the largest rodent in the world. It grows to about 1.3 meters in length. That's a bit over 4 feet.


If you found these in your attic, you really would have a serious rodent problem. The pictures don't begin to tell you how big these things are. We keep guinea pigs, which are also rodents, but a guinea pig is tiny in comparison. This is how tiny:

Taken from gianthamster.com
Yes, that's a guinea pig on the capybara's back. This is the most famous capybara in the world. His name is Caplin Rous, and he has more twitter followers than I do.

19 comments:

Vicky Alvear Shecter said...

It's weird to shudder with revulsion at the same moment I'm crooning, "awwwwwww..." Very cool creature (as long as its not anywhere near me).

Stephanie Thornton said...

Wow- I've never seen one of those guys before. They're kind of cute in an extra-large-rodent sort of way.

Gary Corby said...

Vicky, capybaras and guinea pigs are both herbivores, and very clean. Except ours are rather muddy at the moment because of all the rain, but that's beside the point. Really there's no correspondence with rats, if you don't count a lot of DNA.

Gary Corby said...

Hi Stephanie! You'll just have to go to San Diego to see them. I can recommend a good tour guide.

L. T. Host said...

OMG after seeing that last picture I must now add a capybara to my list of animals for my own personal zoo someday!

Glad you had fun at the zoo-- we certainly had a good time with you!

Uh, that rhyming-verse-thing there at the end was unintentional, I swear.

RWMG said...

I'm told the Catholic church in S. America classifies them as fish rather than rodents so that they can be eaten during Lent.

Gary Corby said...

LT, my girls instantly demanded a capybara for a pet. I pointed out that one on its own would barely squeeze into the guinea pig hutch.

Luckily for me it's illegal to import them here. Though the idea of wild capybaras roaming the Australian bush is sort of cool.

Gary Corby said...

People eat capybaras? Could such a thing be?

...checks the nets...

OMG Robert, you're right. And yes, on reflection, I can see the distinct resemblance to a fish.

RWMG said...

Perhaps it wasn't obvious in the zoo, but apparently they're semi-aquatic.

RWMG said...

Oh, and whisper it gently round your daughters, but people in Peru eat guinea pigs as well.

Gary Corby said...

I was aware of the semi-aquatic nature, but if it's a fish, the gills are well-hidden.

Loretta Ross said...

OMG! You found the ROUSes! Glad you made it out of the Fire Swamp okay! :D

Gary Corby said...

I had to do a certain amount of googling to work out what you were talking about, Loretta! I'd never heard of The Princess Bride.

Ducas said...

ok... so you prefer the rodents over the pandas. interesting. =p

Gary Corby said...

Yes, but it's probably no reflection on my choice of interns.

Loretta Ross said...

Oh, Gary, you have GOT to see The Princess Bride at the earliest opportunity! It's a classic.

Have you ever been reading a blog or message board and people suddenly start posting strange, random quotes, like, "Chou keep using dat word. I do not thin' it means what you thin' it means." or, "I've got my country's five-hundredth anniversary to plan, my wedding to arrange, my wife to murder and Gildur to frame for it. I'm swamped!" or, "Iocane powder comes from Australia, and Australia, as everyone knows, is entirely peopled with criminals. Criminals are used to people not trusting them, as you are not trusted by me, therefore I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you"?

Well, that's The Princess Bride at work in our culture. ;)

T. Anne said...

I probably could have gone a lifetime without seeing the largest rodent in the world, but I will say, it cleans up nicely. ;)

L. T. Host said...

I like the idea of wild capybaras roaming my backyard.

*Gets to work...

Gary Corby said...

Apparently someone in the US breeds them.

Hurry now while stocks last.