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Capybara vs. Marmot — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Updated on July 26, 2023
Capybaras are the world's largest rodents native to South America, semi-aquatic and social. Marmots are burrowing rodents from the Northern Hemisphere, more solitary and adapted to cold climates.
Capybara vs. Marmot — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Capybara and Marmot


Key Differences

Capybara, the world's largest rodent, is native to South America, primarily inhabiting wetlands and dense forests. Marmots, on the other hand, are large ground squirrels found primarily in North America, Europe, and Asia, known for their preference for rocky areas and alpine environments.
Capybaras are semi-aquatic and exhibit a broad, heavy, barrel-shaped body with short limbs, whereas marmots possess a stout body with dense fur and use their sharp claws to dig burrows.
The fur of marmots varies from light to dark brown, while capybaras feature a uniform brownish-grey coat.
Capybaras are social animals that live in large groups, sometimes numbering as many as 100 individuals. In contrast, marmots generally form smaller social structures, often existing in colonies of around 10 to 20 individuals.
Capybaras are herbivores, primarily consuming a diet of grasses, aquatic plants, fruits, and tree bark. Marmots, also herbivores, have a slightly broader diet that includes grasses, berries, lichens, mosses, roots, and flowers.
Capybaras are excellent swimmers, using water as a refuge from predators, while marmots, though not adept at swimming, are excellent diggers and use their burrows as protection from predators and harsh weather.

Comparison Chart

Scientific Classification

Rodentia, Caviidae, Hydrochoerus
Rodentia, Sciuridae

Geographical Habitat

Primarily in South America, especially in wet and swampy areas
Primarily in Northern Hemisphere, in mountainous regions


Largest rodent, adults can grow up to 4.3 ft in length and weigh up to 146 lb
Size varies by species, most adults are about 1.6-2 ft long and weigh 6-11 lb


Average 8-10 years in the wild, up to 12 years in captivity
Average lifespan is around 15-18 years in the wild


Herbivorous, feed on grasses, aquatic plants, fruits, and tree bark
Omnivorous, but primarily herbivorous. Eats grasses, flowers, grains, insects, and bird eggs

Social Behavior

Social animals that live in groups called herds
Mostly solitary, but form social colonies during the mating season


Jaguars, pumas, ocelots, eagles, caimans, and anacondas
Eagles, wolves, foxes, and occasionally bears

Conservation Status

Least Concern (IUCN)
Varies by species; most are Least Concern, but some are endangered (IUCN)

Compare with Definitions


A semi-aquatic mammal known for its love of water.
While camping near the river, we spotted a Capybara splashing joyfully in the water.


A rodent of the squirrel family found in mountainous areas of North America, Europe, and Asia.
While hiking through the Rockies, they were lucky to spot a marmot scurrying into its burrow.


The capybara (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris) is a giant cavy rodent native to South America. It is the largest living rodent.


Rodents which are well adapted to cold environments and known to hibernate up to eight months of the year.
The marmot has adapted to conserve energy during the harsh winter months, often hibernating for most of the year.


A herbivorous animal that primarily feeds on grasses and aquatic plants.
We watched as the Capybara grazed on the grassy bank of the river.


Marmots are relatively large ground squirrels in the genus Marmota, with 15 species living in Asia, Europe, and North America. These herbivores are active during the summer when often found in groups, but are not seen during the winter when they hibernate underground.


The largest living rodent in the world, native to South America.
At the zoo, they were astonished by the size of the Capybara, having never seen a rodent so large.


A creature known for its loud whistle-like alarm calls when threatened.
Hearing a sudden high-pitched whistle, the hiker realized it was a marmot warning its family of potential danger.


A nocturnal animal that is most active during dawn and dusk.
In the twilight, we spotted a Capybara embarking on its search for food.


Any rodent of the genus Marmota (formerly Arctomys) of the subfamily Sciurinae. The common European marmot (Marmota marmotta) is about the size of a rabbit, and inhabits the higher regions of the Alps and Pyrenees. The bobac is another European species. The common American species (Marmota monax) is the woodchuck (also called groundhog), but the name marmot is usually used only for the western variety.


A species well adapted to life in wetlands, with webbed feet and the ability to hold their breath underwater for up to five minutes.
The Capybara plunged into the water, disappearing for minutes at a time before resurfacing, displaying its incredible adaptation to an aquatic lifestyle.


Large ground-dwelling squirrels recognized for their hefty bodies and bushy tails.
Looking out of the cabin window, she noticed a marmot munching on some wildflowers in the meadow.


A large semiaquatic rodent (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris) of tropical South America, having short limbs and a vestigial tail and often attaining lengths of more than 1.2 meters (4 feet).


Herbivorous mammals that are often found at high altitudes.
On the high slopes of the Himalayas, one can spot the Himalayan marmot, an animal adapted to harsh conditions.


A large South American rodent (Hydrochoerus capybara) living on the margins of lakes and rivers. It is the largest extant rodent, being about three feet long, and half that in height. It somewhat resembles the Guinea pig, to which it is related; - called also cabiai and water hog.


A stocky coarse-furred burrowing rodent with a short bushy tail found throughout the northern hemisphere; hibernates in winter.


An animal of high significance in the ecosystem due to its role in seed dispersion.
By consuming and dispersing seeds, the Capybara plays an important role in the biodiversity of its habitat.


An animal characterized by its habits of social living, elaborate burrows, and hibernation.
In the cold winter months, the marmot stays deep in its burrow, living off its stored fat reserves.


A gentle creature famous for its calm demeanor and tolerance towards other species.
The Capybara stood still, unperturbed by the flock of birds perched on its back.


Any one of several species of ground squirrels or gophers of the genus Spermophilus; also, the prairie dog.


A South American mammal that resembles a giant long-legged guinea pig. It lives in groups near water and is the largest living rodent.


A term used for 14 different species of large squirrels in the genus Marmota.
The Vancouver Island marmot, a species of marmot, is a critically endangered animal native to Canada.


A semi-aquatic South American rodent, Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris, the largest living rodent.


Any of various stocky, coarse-furred, burrowing rodents of the genus Marmota, having short legs and ears and short bushy tails and found throughout the Northern Hemisphere.


Pig-sized tailless South American amphibious rodent with partly webbed feet; largest living rodent.


Any of several large ground-dwelling rodents of the genera Marmota and Cynomys in the squirrel family.


A creature of the Caviidae family, closely related to guinea pigs.


An animal with a lifespan ranging from 15 to 18 years in the wild.
Contrary to popular belief, the marmot is a hardy creature, surviving up to 18 years in the harsh wilderness.


A species identified by its barrel-shaped body and short head.
From afar, the Capybara looked like a large, furry barrel waddling towards the water.


A highly social creature that typically lives in groups.
I was amazed to see a group of Capybara interacting harmoniously with each other in the wild.

Common Curiosities

Why is capybara so famous?

Capybaras are famous due to their unique features, calm disposition, and ability to get along with a variety of other animal species. They've become popular on social media and are known for their sociability.

What animal is similar to a capybara?

The capybara, native to South America, is often compared to the North American beaver due to their similar body shapes and semi-aquatic lifestyles, although they are not closely related.

Can capybaras harm humans?

While capybaras are generally peaceful creatures, they are large and powerful rodents that can bite if they feel threatened or cornered. It's always important to respect wild animals and their space.

Are capybaras smart?

Capybaras are believed to possess a level of intelligence comparable to other rodent species. They display social complexity and problem-solving ability in their natural habitats.

Are marmots intelligent?

While there isn't a lot of specific research on marmot intelligence, as rodents, they are believed to possess a level of problem-solving ability and social complexity.

Are marmots friendly?

Marmots are typically shy around humans. While they may seem friendly when not threatened, it's always important to remember they are wild animals and should be treated as such.

What animal eats a marmot?

Marmots are preyed upon by several predators, including foxes, wolves, eagles, and bears.

Are capybaras friendly?

Capybaras are known for their friendly and social nature. They live in large groups and often interact calmly with humans and other animals.

What is the world's largest marmot?

The Alpine marmot is the largest species of marmot, with some individuals reaching up to 8 kg in weight and 60 cm in length.

What rodent is known as a marmot?

The marmot is a rodent belonging to the genus Marmota, which includes species like the groundhog or woodchuck and the yellow-bellied marmot.

What is the smaller version of a capybara?

The Patagonian mara is often considered a smaller version of a capybara. They are rodent species native to Argentina and have a similar body shape and size to a hare.

Is the capybara the world's largest rodent?

Yes, the capybara is the world's largest rodent. Adults can weigh up to 66 kg (145 lbs) and reach lengths of 134 cm (53 in).

Can a marmot be a pet?

Marmots are wild animals and are not typically suitable or legal as pets. They require specific conditions and diets, and they have a strong instinct to burrow and hibernate, which can be difficult to accommodate in a household setting.

Why do crocodiles not eat capybaras?

While it's possible for a crocodile to eat a capybara, many crocodile species don't share the same habitat as capybaras, which are native to South America. Predation is largely dependent on geography and opportunity.

Can marmots be aggressive?

Marmots are generally not aggressive unless they feel threatened. They will usually choose to retreat into their burrows when danger is sensed.

Do marmots give birth?

Yes, female marmots give birth to live young. The size of the litter can vary but usually ranges from two to eight pups.

What eats the capybara?

Capybaras have several predators, including jaguars, pumas, caimans, and anacondas. Some birds of prey and large fish species may also prey on young or smaller capybaras.

Do capybaras eat meat?

Capybaras are herbivores, which means they primarily eat grasses, aquatic plants, fruit, and tree bark. They do not consume meat.

Why do capybara poop in water?

Capybaras, like some other semi-aquatic species, often defecate in water. This behavior can help to hide their scent from potential predators.

How fast can capybaras run?

Capybaras can run up to 35 km/h (22 mph) when they need to escape from predators.

What is bigger than a capybara?

In the rodent family, nothing is bigger than a capybara. However, in the animal kingdom, many species are larger, including most large mammals such as elephants, bears, and many species of deer.

Are capybaras just big guinea pigs?

Capybaras and guinea pigs are both part of the rodent family, and they share a common ancestor. However, they are different species, and there are significant differences between them in terms of size, habitat, and behavior.

Did capybaras go extinct?

No, capybaras have not gone extinct. They are widespread throughout most of South America and are not currently considered a threatened species.

Why are capybaras so calm?

Capybaras have a natural disposition toward calmness and sociability. Their lifestyle in large groups contributes to their calm nature, as they rely on social cohesion and cooperation for survival.

Are capybaras aggressive?

Capybaras are generally not aggressive and tend to flee rather than fight when threatened. However, like any animal, they can become aggressive when cornered or when protecting their young.

Why are marmots so rare?

Marmots aren't rare overall, but some species are due to factors like habitat loss, climate change, and hunting.

Can you touch a marmot?

As with any wild animal, it's not advisable to touch a marmot. They can bite when threatened, and it's important to respect their space and avoid causing them unnecessary stress.

What scares marmots?

Marmots are prey animals and are naturally wary of potential predators, including wolves, eagles, and humans.

Are marmots loud?

Marmots are known for their loud whistles, which serve as alarm calls to warn others in the colony of potential danger.

How long do marmots live?

Marmots typically live between 15-18 years in the wild, although this can vary depending on species and environmental factors.

What is a fun fact about marmots?

An interesting fact about marmots is that they spend more than half of their lives in hibernation, surviving the winter months in a state of deep sleep in their burrows.

Are marmots a problem?

In some areas, marmots can be seen as a problem due to their burrowing habits, which can cause damage to gardens, fields, and human-made structures. However, they also play an essential role in their ecosystems.

Do capybaras have brains?

Yes, like all mammals, capybaras have brains. Their brain controls their behavior, bodily functions, and responses to their environment.

How strong are capybara teeth?

Capybaras, like other rodents, have sharp and continuously growing incisors. These teeth are very strong and allow capybaras to chew through tough plant material.

Are capybaras tasty?

Taste is subjective and can vary significantly from person to person. In some parts of South America, capybara meat is eaten during certain religious holidays, and is considered a delicacy by some.

Why do capybaras cry?

Capybaras can make a variety of sounds, and some of these can be interpreted as crying. They may vocalize to communicate with each other, express distress, or signal alarm.

Do capybaras sleep all day?

Capybaras are crepuscular, which means they are most active during dawn and dusk. They do sleep a lot, though, often in the water to stay safe from predators.

Can capybaras fight?

Capybaras are generally peaceful animals. However, males can sometimes fight over territory or potential mates, especially during the breeding season.

Are capybaras noisy?

Capybaras can make a variety of noises for communication, including purrs, whistles, and clicks. However, they are not considered a boisterous animals overall.

How expensive is a capybara?

The price of a capybara can range from $500 to $3,000, not including the additional costs of feeding, housing, and veterinary care. However, owning a capybara is illegal in many areas and not recommended due to their specific needs and large size.

Can capybaras bark?

Capybaras do not bark like dogs. They communicate through a series of sounds, including purrs, whistles, squeals, and clicks.

What are baby capybaras called?

Baby capybaras are usually referred to as capybara pups.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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