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Nutria vs. Capybara: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Updated on October 6, 2023
Nutria are semi-aquatic rodents native to South America but found in various parts of the world, while Capybaras are the largest rodents globally, also native to South America.

Key Differences

Nutria and Capybara both hail from South America and are semi-aquatic rodents. However, they belong to different families within the rodent order. Nutrias are smaller and belong to the family Myocastoridae, while Capybaras are part of the Caviidae family.
In terms of size, the Nutria typically measures about 1 foot in body length, with a tail of a similar length. On the other hand, the Capybara is much larger, often reaching up to 4.5 feet in length and weighing as much as 145 pounds.
Another distinguishing characteristic is their teeth. Nutrias possess sharp, orange-tinted incisors, while Capybaras have squared-off snouts with less pronounced teeth that aren't distinctly colored.
Behaviorally, Nutrias are often more aggressive than the relatively docile Capybara. While both animals live in social groups, Capybaras are known for their peaceful nature and often coexist harmoniously with other animals.
Lastly, while both Nutria and Capybara have been sought for their fur and meat, the introduction of Nutria to non-native areas has led to them being seen as invasive pests, damaging water systems and competing with native species. Capybaras, in contrast, haven’t been as widespread and remain largely in their native habitats.

Comparison Chart




About 1 foot in body length
Up to 4.5 feet in length


Sharp, orange-tinted incisors
Less pronounced, regular-colored teeth


More aggressive


Often seen as invasive in non-native regions
Largely remain in native habitats

Nutria and Capybara Definitions


A rodent that has caused ecological concern due to its invasive nature in non-native regions.
In some states, efforts are ongoing to control the Nutria population.


The largest rodent in the world, native to South America.
The Capybara can weigh as much as a large dog.


A semi-aquatic rodent, native to South America, introduced to other regions.
The Nutria, with its webbed feet, is an efficient swimmer.


An animal with a squared-off snout and webbed feet.
The Capybara's feet make it an adept swimmer.


A mammal prized for its fur in the fashion industry.
Vintage coats made from Nutria fur were once quite popular.


A social animal that often resides in large groups.
A group of Capybaras is often called a 'herd'.


A species also known as coypu, resembling a large rat.
From a distance, the Nutria might be mistaken for an oversized rat.


A semi-aquatic mammal known for its docile nature.
Children in some South American villages play near Capybaras without fear.


A large semiaquatic rodent (Myocastor coypus) native to South America, having webbed feet and a long tail. It is widely raised for fur and has formed wild populations especially in the southern United States.


A herbivore often found grazing near freshwater sources.
You can often see Capybaras grazing by the riverbanks at dusk.


The light brown fur of the nutria. In both senses also called coypu.


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).


The coypu, Myocastor coypus.


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


The fur of the coypu.


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.


The fur of the coypu. See Coypu.


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


Aquatic South American rodent resembling a small beaver; bred for its fur


A herbivore primarily feeding on aquatic plants and roots.
The wetlands are home to the Nutria, where it feeds on plant matter.


How big can a Capybara grow?

A Capybara can grow up to 4.5 feet in length and weigh as much as 145 pounds.

What is a Nutria?

Nutria is a semi-aquatic rodent, originally from South America but found in various parts of the world.

Why are Nutrias considered pests in some regions?

Nutrias, in non-native regions, can damage water systems and compete with local species, making them invasive.

Are Nutria and Capybara related?

Both are rodents, but they belong to different families; Nutria to Myocastoridae and Capybara to Caviidae.

Can Capybaras be kept as pets?

While some people keep Capybaras as pets, they require a lot of space, water access, and have specific care needs.

Are Capybaras social animals?

Yes, Capybaras often live in groups and are social creatures.

Are Capybaras aggressive?

Capybaras are generally docile and have a calm demeanor.

What is the lifespan of a Nutria?

In the wild, Nutrias can live up to 8-10 years.

Do Nutrias have natural predators?

Yes, alligators, snakes, and various birds of prey are known to prey on Nutrias.

What do Nutrias eat?

Nutrias primarily feed on aquatic plants and roots.

What sound does a Capybara make?

Capybaras produce a variety of sounds, including purrs, barks, and whistles.

How do Nutria's teeth look?

Nutrias have sharp, orange-tinted incisors.

Is Nutria fur used in clothing?

Yes, Nutria fur was once popular in the fashion industry for making coats.

How fast can a Nutria run?

Despite their bulky appearance, Nutrias can run quite fast, especially when escaping threats.

Are Nutrias good swimmers?

Yes, with their webbed feet, Nutrias are efficient swimmers.

Where can one typically find a Capybara in the wild?

Capybaras are typically found near freshwater sources in South America.

How do Capybaras communicate?

Capybaras communicate using vocalizations, body language, and scent marking.

How do Capybaras keep cool?

Capybaras often wallow in mud or water to regulate their body temperature.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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