Invasive Species: The Capybara Pet Could Be A New Trend For Animal Rights Activists In The United States

Invasive species aren’t often a problem. There are often laws against bringing certain animals onto foreign soil due to their habit of upsetting the natural balance. Johnny Depp and Amber Heard faced problems with this in the past year for bringing their dogs with them to Australia without the proper paperwork.

An invasive species is almost the opposite of an endangered species. It is an animal which survives in spite of efforts to stop it, unlike the bald eagle and the lion. The latest of these is the capybara, a rodent known to be the largest of the family, which originally comes from South America. One way to potentially stem the overpopulation of these resilient mammals is for animal lovers to accept them into their homes.

For this reason, the capybara pet could be the latest trend for activists, a positive way to deal with a species which has been in Florida for over two decades. The capybara were accidentally released into Florida forests after escaping from a research facility in the early 90s, says ABC News.

Elizabeth Congdon, a biologist studying the large rodents, has stated that the possibility is there that the capybara may become a problem if left unchecked as it stays in Florida.

“Right now, they’re considered exotics — non-native animals that aren’t supposed to be here. But if they breed and grow enough to the point that they’re causing damage, they could be considered an invasive species.”

Earlier this month at an animal behavior conference in Daytona Beach, Congdon warned it might happen. For now, they appear to be staying in the state park, shying away from threats and working together to survive. About 50 of the potentially invasive species had been spotted near the facility in 2008 alone.

If the capybara attempts to breed faster than it can be contained, it could spread to more agricultural areas and become a menace, possibly moving on to the South and disrupting farms. They are known to be social animals, and could become a threat to the state’s economy if they get out of hand. Back in Brazil, they were known to eat corn and sugar crops, and it’s unknown what damage they might do to U.S. farms.

Animal rights activists might not like what Congdon claims may end up being done to curb the spread of the potentially invasive species.

“At this point, we’re just trying to prevent them from becoming an invasive species, and we don’t necessarily know the solution right now. It could be that we have to remove large males or breeding females. It may be possible to fence in the park so they simple can’t escape and control their spread that way.”

Congdon has even considered the possibility of simply killing off capybara who wander too far out, but she and her students are currently brainstorming a solution to possibly prevent that from happening. We can probably expect activist groups to show up and protest the Elizabeth Congdon’s decision if it comes down to stopping the capybara from becoming an invasive species.

“That’s the question: How do you humanely stop the spread? And it’s a fine line for those of us studying these animals. I love them, and they’re my favorite animal in the planet, but at the same time, it may be necessary to remove them from here.”

Could the capybara become the next pet of choice for animal rights activists looking for a friendly solution to a potentially invasive species?

[Image via Steve Meese/]

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