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August 26th, 2008 by Bill Corbett · 47 Comments

I’ve always thought that the South American capybara is underrated as a potential pet. It’s the world’s largest rodent, for one thing, and that’s not something you get with every rodent. (To those with non-rodent pets: I won’t even pretend to understand you.)

Oh sure, you can think of capybara as giant rats if you must. My wife does, and her prejudice is the only thing keeping me from ditching it all to start a huge capybara farm. ($ Ka-CHING!! $)


But honestly, there’s an excellent case to be made for these noble beasts as pets:

    – According to the infallible Wikipedia, “Capybaras are gentle and will usually allow humans to pet and hand-feed them.” Awwww.

    – They’re herbivores, and eat mostly grass. ‘Bye lawnmower!

    – They allegedly taste like pork. ‘Bye house pigs!

    – You can brag to friends that you own a giant rat.

As a future owner / breeder / advocate for capybara and capybara-related products, though, I do mourn the passing of the capybara’s direct ancestor which walked the earth four millions years ago.

giant capybara

They weighed over a ton, and were bigger than bulls: 10 feet long, 5 feet high and just to top it off — foot-long teeth. So they ate a lot of grass, and tasted like a lot of pork.

While I’ll never own these beautiful ancient behemoths (unless certain experiments I’m running produce the hoped-for miracle), I can console myself by hugging and/ or or eating my many, many modern capybaras.

Awwwww! (And yum!)



[P.S. For further reading on the subject of giant rats, try HERE.]

Tags: RiffTrax

47 responses so far ↓

  • 1 norgavue on Aug 26, 2008 at 6:41 pm

    Ahh finally I can raise an army of Dire Rats.

  • 2 Tim on Aug 26, 2008 at 8:30 pm

    Does the Wikipedia article give any explanation about the capybara’s hideous paws (which strongly resemble charred duck’s feet)? Or the cause of their perpetual boredom, as evidenced by their continual “how much longer do I have to sit here being petted before I can go eat some more grass” stare?

  • 3 Bob on Aug 26, 2008 at 8:46 pm

    O if I could only have one of these gentle giants as a lovely friend- I would sail through the air with happiness!

  • 4 EegahInc on Aug 26, 2008 at 9:03 pm

    You left out one of the best parts. Special permission was given to eat these things on Fridays during Lent. Yum!

  • 5 Bill Corbett on Aug 26, 2008 at 9:19 pm


    And I find the charred duck-feet paws beautiful.

  • 6 Walter on Aug 26, 2008 at 9:24 pm

    Bacon? Is that you?

  • 7 Mr. Slick on Aug 26, 2008 at 9:39 pm

    Didn’t your screen writing experience teach you about dealing with giant rats?

  • 8 MST3Kelly on Aug 26, 2008 at 9:51 pm

    Mr. Corbett,
    I am also amused and bewildered by the magical and improbable [and plucky] creatures from the pages of Nature’s sketchbook. I mourn the passing of “The Giant Beaver (Castoroides ohioensis), a huge species of rodent, with a length up to 2.5 m (8.2 ft)[1] and an estimated weight of 60-100 kg (130-220 lbs); past estimates went up to 220 kg (485 lbs).[2] It lived in North America during the Pleistocene epoch, and went extinct at the end of the last Ice Age, 10,000 years ago.” And the Glyptodontidae, the Volkswagen-sized armadillos that roamed South America and parts of North America until the end of the last Ice Age. Doedicurus clavicaudatus had an enormous spiked mace-like tail, and were armored to the eyelids. There was also the so-called American cheetah, Miracinonyx, which is why the pronghorn antelope evolved to run so fast. They are still running from a long-dead predator.
    Natural history is my passion; the landscape of time is full of such magical beasts. And the fossil record is woefully incomplete, so many new wondrous creatures are still locked in the earth, waiting to tell their stories. Have you visited the La Brea Tarpits? There are some wonderful specimens there.
    And in the Carboniferous era, there was a dragonfly with a three-foot wingspan; a spider the size of a football; and Arthropleura, a relative of centipedes and millipedes, some of which grew to 8.5 feet.
    “Honey, get the swatter!”

  • 9 MST3Kelly on Aug 26, 2008 at 11:25 pm

    They are actually magnificently adapted to their aquatic lifestyle. These webbed feet make them excellent swimmers, and allow them to walk on the boggy, unstable ground of their habitat. The design of a capybara’s head alludes to its aquatic lifestyle, with nostrils, eyes, and ears all in a line atop the skull so they can remain mostly submerged, yet still aware of their environment. They are a favored prey item of the jaguar, caiman, and anaconda [and humans too] so they need to stay ‘frosty.’
    I love ‘em!

  • 10 MST3Kelly on Aug 26, 2008 at 11:59 pm

    (I’m really sorry about my nerdy science bombardment, guys. This is the last one, I swear. Thanks for your patience.)
    Mr. Corbett:
    check out these other strange and wonderful abominations from out of time:

    Thylacoleo carnifex, ancient Australia’s so-called marsupial lion: weird, giant, super-sharp buck teeth, giant inexplicable thumb claws, and a colossal bite force
    Entelodonts, giant omnivorous pig-relatives with three-foot skulls- talk about your bacon!
    Andrewsarchus, an enormous predator of the Eocene, with a 32 inch skull full of punishing teeth; yet it is believed to be most closely related to the artiodactyl ungulates, like the modern horse, cow, rhinoceros, hippo etc.
    Indricotherium, the largest land mammal yet discovered; 18 feet tall and 28 feet long, part of an extinct line of hornless rhinoceros-like mammals
    and there were a whole menagerie of weird beasties from the era before the dinosaurs- mammal-like reptiles including our distant relative, Dimetrodon

    You can tell your kids that these creatures once roamed our world; a few of them lived near where you live now!
    Truly, a world of wonders.

  • 11 Courtney on Aug 27, 2008 at 2:21 am

    Are capybara’s the live version of Monty the Montauk Monster? I don’t really care. They’re giant rodents and therefore must be stopped. The day is drawing nigh where I officially go Brisco on any and all rodenty-type creatures. Hero or villain, I must do my duty.

  • 12 Tim on Aug 27, 2008 at 2:58 am

    Bill, as a former guinea pig owner, I’m with you on the desirability of a capybara as a pet. The only thing keeping me back (apart from lacking the large, mostly aquatic habittrail) is the waste issue. Are you by any chance working on breeding house-broken capybaras?

  • 13 Smuttynose on Aug 27, 2008 at 4:18 am

    Not only are the charred duck’s feet beautiful, they are delicious in a fine Beurre Blanc sauce. And a hoppy bear to wash it all down.

  • 14 Smuttynose on Aug 27, 2008 at 4:21 am

    And as stated in the greatest large rat novel of all time <Death Rat, would this capybara also taste DEE-vine?

    Now, I must go and call the tow truck to get my car out of the volvo-grabbing ruts on the side of the road.

    Now there’s some obscure references for ya! (Sorry Mike)

  • 15 Ryan on Aug 27, 2008 at 4:49 am

    This is all about the possibility of Rat bacon, isn’t it, Bill?

  • 16 Eric Honaker on Aug 27, 2008 at 5:14 am

    For goodness sake, don’t tell my daughter. I barely managed to make her stop at 2 guinea pigs.

  • 17 Ben on Aug 27, 2008 at 5:42 am

    Were these the things the hairy people were munching on in “2001: A Space Odyssey?”

  • 18 NavarezElectro on Aug 27, 2008 at 5:47 am

    Those were tapirs.

  • 19 Bill Corbett on Aug 27, 2008 at 6:19 am

    Thanks, MST3Kelly. That was interesting, and you are smart.

    I just like freakishly big animals.

  • 20 Bill Corbett on Aug 27, 2008 at 6:22 am

    Re the waste issue: check the Wiki.

    They are “coprophagous.”

    A bit gross to some, of course. But to me it means: no yard cleanup!

  • 21 Smuttynose on Aug 27, 2008 at 6:56 am

    In Brazil, March comes in like a Tapir and leaves like a Capybara!

  • 22 Onil on Aug 27, 2008 at 7:00 am

    Bill, as a parent of young children, you’re missing the most obvious and awesome plus to having one of these cute monstrosities as a pet. Two words: Capybara Rides. Your children’s birthday parties would be legendary!

  • 23 Darth Chimay on Aug 27, 2008 at 9:18 am

    Woo-hoo! Giant rats! I had a pet rat who passed away about a year ago. She was the greatest pet I ever had. She used to climb up my arm and sit on my shoulder, just being as sweet as can be…. sorry, got a little choked up.

    Now, if I can just gain about 300 pounds and 5 feet, I can have one of these suckers sitting on my shoulder!

  • 24 Queen Shadowrama on Aug 27, 2008 at 10:17 am

    Hey Bill, if Virginia doesn’t approve of capybaras in your house, there’s no reason you can’t start a capybara farm in Brazil or something. It’s much cheaper to buy farmland there than it is in the states, and you could make the commute to Brazil every week or so to make sure things are running smoothly.

    Oh sure, commuting between Rifftrax, Old Timer Billy Corbett’s Giant Rat Farm and Minnesota will make it likely that you’ll never have time with your family, and your children will forget who you are, but isn’t your dream worth the sacrifice Bill? I would hate to see you not live up to your massive rodent-raising potential! :-)

  • 25 Ben on Aug 27, 2008 at 10:51 am

    In Soviet Russia, Capybaras run government and own people.

  • 26 Ben on Aug 27, 2008 at 10:53 am

    You mean appetizers in Spanish cuisine? No, wait. Those are tapas.

  • 27 James Norton on Aug 27, 2008 at 11:39 am

    What’s the deal with the pigtailed street mime hugging the giant rat in the last photo? Am I right? It’s very Terry Gilliam.

  • 28 R.A. Roth on Aug 27, 2008 at 11:48 am

    Do they come with Black Plague or is that option only available through a dealer prep package?


  • 29 Courtney on Aug 27, 2008 at 12:30 pm

    No Ben, tapirs are those parasites that live in your stomach and eat your food. They used to sell their eggs as diet pills. DUH.

  • 30 ERINBOTELHO on Aug 27, 2008 at 12:36 pm

    Man ! Now why didn’t they make that Harry Potter’s pet!?

  • 31 Tim on Aug 27, 2008 at 1:03 pm


    “Rodents Of Ungodly Size”?

    “Rats Of Unstoppable Strength”?

    “Ruminants Of Uber-Scale”?

    “Really Odd, Upsetting Stories”?

  • 32 Triangle O. Daver on Aug 27, 2008 at 1:31 pm

    I’m pretty sure that that’s Boy George.

  • 33 Houndstooth Mind on Aug 27, 2008 at 1:54 pm

    Rodents Of Unusual Size (See “The Princess Bride”)

  • 34 RemmieBarrow on Aug 27, 2008 at 1:54 pm

    Those are probably friendlier than most “ROUS”es you will happen to meet.

  • 35 Tim on Aug 27, 2008 at 2:20 pm

    Saw it.

    Joking about variations.



  • 36 wakachiwaka on Aug 27, 2008 at 3:33 pm

    Bah! It’s been done to death – mostly in the animated “The Tick” series: How could anyone forget the big blue guy’s beloved pet Speak?

  • 37 Bill Corbett on Aug 27, 2008 at 4:36 pm

    Sounds like a plan, Queen S.

    And giant rodents are people too, after all.

  • 38 Laughing Sal on Aug 27, 2008 at 5:46 pm

    No, no- aren’t they those fancy candles in the middle of centerpieces?
    The last time I tried to light a tapir, though, I got quite a kicking. And it wouldn’t stay sitting in the middle of the table.

  • 39 TeeJay on Aug 27, 2008 at 8:44 pm

    Drat! They exceed the weight limit for my apartment!

  • 40 ERINBOTELHO on Aug 28, 2008 at 9:14 am

    OMG! All you have to do is smuggle one into the country and tie rabbit ears to it! No one will know the difference!. Sheesh! :o D

  • 41 Invisible Cracker Mom on Aug 28, 2008 at 9:45 am

    Think of the habitrail one could build!

  • 42 Erin B on Aug 28, 2008 at 4:27 pm

    I’d hate to be the one to set the rat trap out for it though…..

  • 43 AmandaGal on Aug 30, 2008 at 5:25 am

    I can’t believe I missed this post. Stupid RSS reader. Those who know me from here know that I used to be a zookeeper. I used to take care of these guys. Fun and friendly, true. Are considered fish by the Vatican, true.

    Also true: if you have ever had a hamster for a pet, you know what they smell like. Multiply that by 1000 times the size. They smell like you would expect a giant rodent to smell.

    These fellas are pretty clean though. They had a “toilet” area where they do the majority of their business. I bet you could litter box train one. They will eat from your hand and they like having their ears scratched. They’re also kind of slow and stupid. It’s almost endearing.

    I do, however, agree with Virginia. Best in a zoo and not in the living room. . . unless your name is Willard.

  • 44 AmandaGal on Aug 30, 2008 at 5:31 am

    BTW, Willard’s buddy was actually a Gambian Giant Pouched Rat, another cool big rodent. They were once popular pets, but I think they are illegal in most states now because they carried disease.

  • 45 NUan on Jun 24, 2009 at 6:21 pm

    THERE mammals for god sake, doesn’t any one know that? and they used to think that a capybara was a fish, sure i’m a correction freak but i’m tired of these fucking retarded people calling it a rat..although quite tasty yes.

  • 46 Mike on Aug 30, 2011 at 1:41 am

    I would love to have one of these guys, but a lack of space along with my six ferrets would worry the poor guy into a coronary. How would a gentle dog like a Golden Retriever get along with a Capy? How would a capy take to the dog?

  • 47 Nadine on Aug 30, 2011 at 7:35 am

    Hi there! I hope that you are still responding to questions and/or comments. I have always owned rats and when I discovered the Capybara I fell in love. I am an animal person and would like to know where I could go to be able to interact with one of them. This would be amazing. I need to pet one and possibly hold it. Please let me know where I could find one. I live North of Pittsburgh PA. Thanks, Nadine