The goal of the ROUS Foundation is to help captive capybaras live the longest, healthiest, and happiest lives possible. A critical endeavour toward the achievement of this goal is understanding the health concerns of capybaras as they grow and mature.
The size and weight of many animals can be a good indicator of health. People generally think of dogs or cats or even horses as showing their ribs or having protruding backbones when emaciated. This is not the case with capybaras. Even excellent, knowledgeable vets can mistake a seriously underweight young capybara for a healthy one unless they are very familiar with capybaras. Sadly, the ROUS Foundation has seen cases where the animal’s owner and its local vet both contend that the animal is at a healthy weight when a later necropsy will show starvation as the cause of death. This is not to say that these owners and veterinarians are negligent, just that the anatomy, physiology, and maturation of capybaras is significantly different from that of other animals kept as pets. This is the issue the RF Why Weight? program addresses.
To enter the program, a capybara owner or caretaker simply needs to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org giving their name, the name, sex, and age of the capybara(s), the breeder (if known), and the capybara’s lineage (if known).
The ROUS Foundation will provide a scale, as shown in the above photos, free of charge. This scale can be used to weigh a newborn capybara up through adulthood. The owner is expected to report weekly weights for capybara(s) less than three months old, monthly weights for capybaras less than one year old, and biannual weights for capybaras over one year old. Click here to see how to weigh your capybara on a scale.
Each time a weight is submitted, the participant will receive an email with a comparison of that capybara’s weight relative to other capybaras in the program and to wild capybaras of the same age. If the capybara’s weight seems is significantly below the expected weight, the RF will open a dialog with the owner to discuss health and nutrition issues. In appropriate cases, the RF may pay for blood tests to be run through our affiliation with the veterinary school at Texas A&M University.
In the unfortunate case where a capybara dies, whether participating in the study or not, the RF will pay for shipping of the body to A&M and for a necropsy. At the owner’s request, the body can be cremated and the ashes returned.
If you would like to donate toward the purchase of new scales, please use PayPal to send money to email@example.com.