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Wombat vs. Capybara — What's the Difference?

By Urooj Arif & Maham Liaqat — Updated on March 28, 2024
Wombats are sturdy, burrowing marsupials from Australia, known for their cubic feces, while capybaras are the world's largest rodents, native to South America, and famous for their aquatic lifestyle.
Wombat vs. Capybara — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Wombat and Capybara


Key Differences

Wombats are native to Australia and are marsupials, meaning they carry and nurse their young in a pouch. Capybaras, on the other hand, hail from South America and belong to the rodent family.
While wombats are mostly nocturnal, spending their days in burrows and coming out at night to feed, capybaras are more versatile in their activity patterns, showing both diurnal and nocturnal behaviors based on temperature and predation pressures. Wombats' burrowing activity significantly impacts the landscape, creating habitats for other species, whereas capybaras play a crucial role in their ecosystem as prey for predators and as grazers influencing vegetation patterns.
In terms of social structure, wombats are more solitary, with each individual maintaining its territory through scent marking and aggressive encounters when necessary. Capybaras exhibit a strong social structure, forming groups that consist of a dominant male, several females, their young, and subordinate males, with group sizes varying greatly.
Despite their differences, both wombats and capybaras have adapted well to their respective environments, showcasing the diversity of mammalian life in terms of habitat, social behavior, and physical characteristics. Their unique traits and behaviors contribute significantly to their ecosystems, highlighting the importance of conservation efforts to protect these and other species.

Comparison Chart


South America




Burrowing, mostly nocturnal
Semi-aquatic, diurnal/nocturnal

Social Structure

Social, living in groups


Grasses, roots
Aquatic plants, grass, fruit

Unique Traits

Cubic feces, powerful diggers
Largest rodents, webbed feet for swimming

Impact on Ecosystem

Burrows create habitats for other species
Influence on vegetation, prey for predators


Territorial, scent marking
Group hierarchy, social interactions

Compare with Definitions


Wombats are nocturnal, spending the daylight hours in burrows.
During the day, the wombat stayed in its cool, underground burrow.


Their diet mainly consists of aquatic plants, grass, and fruit.
Capybaras foraged for food along the water's edge, munching on reeds.


A burrowing marsupial with powerful limbs and cubic feces.
The wombat emerged at dusk to graze on grass near its burrow.


The world's largest rodent, adapted to a semi-aquatic lifestyle.
A group of capybaras relaxed in the water to escape the heat.


Known for their extensive burrow systems.
The network of wombat burrows provided shelter for various other wildlife.


They have webbed feet, aiding in swimming.
With their webbed feet, capybaras swam effortlessly through the river.


Wombats have a slow metabolism, contributing to their cube-shaped feces.
Researchers study wombat feces to understand their unique digestive process.


Capybaras are social animals, living in groups near water bodies.
The capybara herd grazed on grass near the riverbank.


Native to Australia, wombats are solitary and territorial animals.
A solitary wombat aggressively defended its territory from intruders.


Capybaras serve as important prey species in their ecosystem.
Predators like jaguars hunt capybaras, crucial for the food chain balance.


Wombats are short-legged, muscular quadrupedal marsupials that are native to Australia. They are about 1 m (40 in) in length with small, stubby tails and weigh between 20 and 35 kg (44 and 77 lb).


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


Any of several stocky burrowing Australian marsupials of the family Vombatidae, somewhat resembling a small bear and feeding mainly on grass, leaves, and roots.


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


Any of several herbivorous, burrowing marsupials, of the family Vombatidae, mainly found in southern and eastern Australia.


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).


Any one of three species of Australian burrowing marsupials of the genus Phascolomys, especially the common species (Phascolomys ursinus). They are nocturnal in their habits, and feed mostly on roots.


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


Burrowing herbivorous Australian marsupials about the size of a badger


A large South American rodent (Hydrochærus 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.


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

Common Curiosities

How do capybaras maintain their social structure?

Capybaras maintain their social structure through a hierarchy with a dominant male, clear communication signals, and cooperative behaviors like group grooming and vigilance against predators.

Can capybaras be kept as pets?

While capybaras are sometimes kept as pets, they require a lot of space, access to water for swimming, and social interaction, making them challenging to care for in a typical home environment.

How do wombats defend themselves from predators?

Wombats defend themselves by using their sturdy build, retreating into burrows where only their tough rear is exposed, and they can crush predators against the burrow walls.

What are the main threats to wombats and capybaras in their natural habitats?

Wombats face threats from habitat destruction, disease, and road accidents, while capybaras are threatened by habitat loss, illegal hunting for their meat and hide, and predation.

What is a wombat?

A wombat is a burrowing marsupial from Australia, known for its cubic feces and solitary lifestyle.

What makes capybaras unique among rodents?

Capybaras are unique for being the largest rodents in the world and for their highly social and semi-aquatic lifestyle.

How do wombats contribute to their ecosystem?

Wombats contribute by creating extensive burrow systems that provide habitats for other species.

Can wombats swim?

While not naturally aquatic like capybaras, wombats can swim if necessary but prefer to stay on land.

What do capybaras eat?

Capybaras eat aquatic plants, grass, and fruit, with their diet adapting to the available vegetation.

Where do capybaras live?

Capybaras live in South America, near rivers, swamps, and lakes, leading a semi-aquatic life.

What is the lifespan of a wombat?

Wombats typically live up to 15 years in the wild, though they can live longer in captivity with proper care.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Urooj Arif
Urooj is a skilled content writer at Ask Difference, known for her exceptional ability to simplify complex topics into engaging and informative content. With a passion for research and a flair for clear, concise writing, she consistently delivers articles that resonate with our diverse audience.
Co-written by
Maham Liaqat

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