Capybara vs. Nutria: What’s the Difference?

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If you’re an animal lover, you may have seen pictures of capybaras and nutrias and wondered what the difference is. Both animals are large rodents, but they have quite a few differences. Here’s a quick rundown on the Capybara vs. Nutria debate!

Is a nutria a capybara?

It’s easy to be confused, but no, a nutria and a capybara are not the same. Although they both belong to the rodent family and have similar physical characteristics such as large eyes, front teeth that never stop growing, and webbed feet, they are from two different species. The nutria is native to southern Europe whereas the capybara is native to South America. The nutria tends to be about ten pounds heavier and its fur is darker whereas the capybara is usually reddish-brown.

Additionally, a key difference between these two animals is their habitats; the nutria typically lives in wetlands or swamps along rivers or coasts while the capybara generally resides in grasslands near water courses or wooded areas. So although it may seem like they have many similarities at first glance, when you look more closely at them there are quite a few differences between nutria and capybara!

How closely related are nutria and capybara?

Nutria and capybara may seem to be similarly sized and shaped, but they’re closely related to two different animals. Nutria belongs to the rodent family – specifically, the subfamily called Myocastorinae – while capybara is part of the Caviidae family.

What separates them further is their habitat: nutria lives in freshwater marshes, wetlands, ditches, lakes, and rivers, while capybara prefers to hang out by ponds and rivers in savannas or grasslands. The only thing these two creatures have in common is that they get along well with humans – if given enough tasty treats!

What animal is closest to a capybara?

It’s a bit of a trick question. You see, while capybaras are one of the largest rodents in the world, they’re also one of the closest to mammals as well – mainly because they are technically classified as one!

They live primarily in Central and South America and are more closely related to guinea pigs, chinchillas, and porcupines than any other rodent. So while they may be the biggest rodent around, their close relatives might come as a surprise.

Are nutria the same as rats?

Nutria and rats can look alike, but they’re two entirely different types of animals. Nutria is semi-aquatic rodents native to South America and are part of the ‘coypu’ family. On the other hand, rats belong to the ‘Muridae family, which consists of mostly small terrestrial rodents. However, both species live in moist habitats and have become invasive over time.

The nutria is larger than the rat with dense fur around its body and a rounded tail that can vary in color from yellowish brown to black – much different from the mousey gray coloration that rats possess. If you look closely, you’ll also notice that rats have pointed noses while nutria has blunt snout along with webbed toes for swimming. Between these two varieties of rodents, there’s absolutely no mistaking them for one another!

Is a capybara a giant rat?

Is a capybara a giant rat? This is a hotly contested debate among animal enthusiasts, with both sides claiming the upper hand. The capybara and rats indeed have several similarities, such as they are both rodents and possess four sharp incisors.

However, there are some key differences too. For starters, the capybara is much larger than even the biggest rats – reaching an average size of between 106–134cm in length! They also tend to inhabit far different ecosystems than their smaller relations – while rats prefer urban areas with lots of human activity, capybaras can only be found living in dense forests near water sources like rivers or ponds. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide if you think a capybara is a giant rat; like all matters of opinion, it remains subjective!

How do you identify a nutria?

Nutria is large, semi-aquatic rodents, making them easy to identify in the wild. A mature nutria can grow up to 20 lbs, with distinctive orange-brown fur and a long black-tipped tail for a total length of about 2 feet.

While nutria has webbed hind feet to assist with their swimming and close relation to muskrats and beavers, they are easily distinguished by their rounder ears and front teeth which form a straight line. As herbivores, nutrias tend to feed on aquatic plants like cattails which makes them easier to spot near bodies of water. It is not uncommon to find multiple animals feeding together as they typically live in large groups aiding their ability to detect predators quickly.


In conclusion, the difference between Capybara and Nutria is clear. Capybaras are South American rodents which are the largest rodent in the world, whereas Nutria is smaller omnivorous mammals native to North America. Physically speaking, Capybaras have a more stout build with larger ears, while Nutria has narrower faces and smaller ears. Diet-wise, both animals eat mostly plants such as grasses and aquatic vegetation. Behaviorally, they both enjoy being in the water and have semi-aquatic tendencies. Ultimately, they are very different species despite having some similarities, and understanding the differences can lead to a better knowledge of these fascinating creatures. Who knew two similar-looking animals could be so different in terms of size, diet, and behavior? The answer is now clear: Capybaras and nutrias may share some features but when you take a closer look it is easy to see that there is no comparison!

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Paul Lirr

Paul Lirr

Hi, my name is Paul Lirr. I'm a 35-year-old and lives with my girlfriend for 5 years.
I'm originally from Manchester, England, but I've been living in Sydney, Australia, for the last few years. Which led me straight to the sweetest hand I have ever met.
The hands of the Capybara. Yes, I'm a proud Capybara lover.

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