A capybara changes you forever. Losing one forces you to adjust your perspective in an inside-out contortion. For those who are vicarious observers of capybara relationships, understand that in our loss, we join you, as casual spectators. Suddenly our own lives become a surreal retrospective of what it must be like to live with a capybara, though weeks ago we were living that dream. Mudskipper was here, and now she is gone.
The first rule of capybaras, all baby animals, is that you can’t take too many photographs. They grow ridiculously fast and, in hindsight, you never took enough. Melanie learned this well, and so there are lots of Baby Muddy photos and videos out there. That was back when we still thought she was a he. By the time I met Muddy, she was growing like a bamboo patch and it was becoming clear she might be female, or at least not male, but that was certainly the main topic of conversation. We since learned that the females have nipples and the males do not! It seems so obvious now, but we were young and naive back then. And oblivious to the fact that knowing her gender was meaningless, anyway.
She was shy, so I took her cue and backed off until her curiosity overcame her fear. She remained wary but would come to me as long as I didn’t react with too much enthusiasm. This is more difficult than it sounds: just look at her! Those perfect little ears, those funny feet, so hard to resist.
I managed to keep my hands off her while I recorded this video. At the tender age of five months, Muddy was perfectly willing to do tricks and perform. As she grew, her enchantment with this kind of activity waned. She had her own agenda and didn’t crave human interaction, though as we will see, she could also be very tolerant.
How big did she grow? Take a look! During the three year gap between visits, Driftwood the cat shrunk quite a bit. Fortunately, Melanie did take lots of in-between photos, but you’ll have to jump over to Capybara Madness to see them.
Capybaras are full grown at about two years old, but they continue to bulk up and gain weight. That is, they have gained their final height and their skeleton is fully grown, but we have seen continual weight gain in capybaras to at least six years old. Beavers continue to grow their entire lives, so maybe it’s a Big Rodent phenomenon.
The mature Mudskipper remembered me, but she was wary, and reserved judgment. Unlike Caplin and Dobby, the attention hog brothers, and even Gari, the ultimate clown capybara, Mudskipper was happier with guests who kept their distance. And yet, there was this party. She was at ease as if parties happened every day. Maybe they did, and the joke’s on me. But she was Queen of this Party, to be sure.
I cropped most of the humans out of the party pictures. I didn’t crop the blankets off the furniture, though. Melanie took those off herself. Capybaras have dirty feet, so blankets are a practical covering. In Texas, it’s nice and dry. Dobby had perennially muddy feet, so he wasn’t allowed on the furniture. Plus he liked to bite it. Muddy didn’t chew much up. She was very well behaved, now that I think of it.
Queen Skippy Mudskipper lived in paradise, even though, technically, it’s Texas. If you want to see her swimming pool, you’re going to have to go here. It’s fabulous, though at first Melanie had to use all the tricks in her book to get Muddy in there. Muddy also had a huge fenced pasture, tortoises to nibble on, and, like Dobby, an endless supply of corn on the cob.
Mostly I remember a snoozing capybara. A capybara wandering in the garden, roaming the halls, tossing a corn cob. It’s what you expect to see at Melanie’s house.
Caplin ROUS July 10, 2007 – January 4, 2011
Garibaldi ROUS March 11, 2010 – February 16, 2014
Mudskipper ROUS February 7, 2015 – February 8, 2021