The Largest Rodent in the World


What barks like a dog, hangs out in the water like a hippo, is furry like a brown bear, and resembles a hog rooting around in the marshes? That would be the capybara (carpincho in Spanish).

They are everywhere in Esteros del Iberá, and currently seem to live the life of Riley…bring on some big cat predators, I say. The cayman appear to be scared of these gigantic rat relatives and are often seen scurrying away when one lets loose with a hoarse bark.

I had a hard time getting the Spanish name for the capybara straight, and for some unknown reason actually kept wanting to say “pinchero” instead of “carpincho.” Now, this is a very bad substitution, since the former essentially means “fucker” in Spanish. I nearly gave the guide a heart attack one day when I didn’t catch myself and made the ill-fated switch. I flashed him my most pathetic “gringa speaking Spanish” look and he let it slide. Whew.

From there on out though, Tom and I began to think of the capybara as an expletive, and I’m afraid it’s going to stick, forever cementing the two words together in my mind. *sigh*


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