When I was heading down to start the tour of the Orinoco Delta, all I really wanted to do was see a Capybara. I don’t know why I have wanted to see one in real life for so long. It probably stems from my obsession with anything even remotely Brazilian. I decided if I could just see one in person I would be happy…
then I got the crap scared out of me by one at the camp!
It’s not really the capybara’s fault…though I’m still pretty convinced this particular capybara had super invisibility-ninja-powers or something. Seriously, I didn’t even see him. I don’t know how. But I swear he wasn’t there when I sat down.
Let me start at the beginning.
The first night in the Orinoco, after dinner, everyone sort of meandered over towards the common area (ok, it was all a common area, just one section had couched and chairs). I finished my food got up from the table and started walking straight towards the EMPTY couch.
I sat down on the couch and started talking with a group of loud Russian kids, and one of them pointed behind me and said (suddenly all quiet and nonchalantly):
“You may want to watch out”
“Huh?” I replied (cause “’WATCH OUT’, and sudden calm quiet talking are 2 things that don’t usually go together)
“Just look behind you”, he again just said with zero urgency. (so now I’m thinking maybe there’s something cool in the water, like a Cayman or something).
so I turned around…
AND SCREAMED “HOLY SHIT” AND JUMPED LIKE TWO FEET IN THE AIR!
About 2 inches from me, standing on the couch, and nudging slowly towards me…
WAS A GIANT CAPYBARA!
(ok, it wasn’t actually giant for a Capybara. It was an adolescent capybara…and they get 2 to 3 times bigger, I’m told)
I mean, I was looking at the couch the entire time I was walking towards it!
Yes it was dark… but not so dark I can remotely figure out how I missed an 40lb rodent in front of my face. I mean, capybaras ARE the largest rodent in the world, yet somehow… in my infinite awesomeness….I managed to walk right up to it, and sit down 3 whole inches away from it, AND STILL NOT SEE IT!
I love capybaras (I mean just look at how cute it is!). Their fur is rather thick and wiry. And it loves being pet.
It also loves to suck on things.
They eat water reeds and such I’m told, and it will suck on anything it can reach. Your shoes, your bag, your fingers. Yes, this Capybara is more tame (because it has grown up around people. I would not recommend trying the following with a wild Capybara). But this one will attack you with gentle finger-sucking. If you remove your finger from its mouth it with nudge you with its face till it can get your fingers again (or your pants if you happen to be sitting down trying to photograph it)
AND THEY HAVE 2 SETS OF TEETH!
Totally unexpected! It has a front row that you can see, but in the back of its mouth , it has a second row of grinder molar teeth. Freaked me out when I first felt them. There is a few inches of space between the 2 rows of teeth. But it feels really cool when they suck on your fingers (unless Mr. capybara gets a little too excited. A couple times, especially if I had just been eating, it would grind a little too hard and hurt …but never broke the skin or tried to actually bite anyone).
This was one of the coolest things at the camp. Mr. Capybara just hung around the camp every evening and morning to get attention. like a cat or dog. It was so freaking adorable!
I love capybaras and for years have wanted to see one in person. I never thought it would be in Venezuela, in the Orinoco, on a horrible tour. But it was.