Saturday, May 30, 2009

Blog moved to

Hi all!

Thanks for being loyal followers of my blog but I have outgrown blogspot and moved to my own website at Please follow me there. I think you'll like the new look and content. If you have any suggestions, I'd love to hear them!

Caplin Rous

Monday, May 18, 2009

How to train humans

Survey Results:
What's your social media connection to Caplin Rous?
  1. I am a HUGE fan of his on MySpace! (8 22%)
  2. MySpace is lame, that's why I'm FaceBook friends with Caplin. (10 27%)
  3. Those are both so early 2000s. Obviously I follow Caplin on twitter. (17 47%)
  4. Hey, Caplin has more than this old-school blog? Who knew? (13 36%)
  5. Caplin? Who's that? (1 2%)
36 total votes (multiples allowed)

Starting view count: 3071
Followers: 54

Looking cute with my head on my paws

Lately I've had quite a few animal friends--anipals as we call each other--comment on how well-trained my humans are. In fact, my references to my female human as my owner seem almost ludicrous considering that the asymmetrical aspects of our relationship are all in my favor. If one of us owns the other, clearly I own her.

After much consideration, I have decided to share some of my human-training tips with all pets in the spirit of making the world a better place. Please read this blog completely, take notes and study the potential application of these methods to your humans before attempting to apply them. Use caution: we don't want any accidents.

Rule 1: Be cute
This is almost too trivial to mention but it is the foundation of all human training. Your power over humans is based on your inherent cuteness and humans obvious ugliness.

Just because being cute is easy doesn't mean you shouldn't practice. Find a full-length mirror or other reflective surface. Lie down in front of it and rest your head on your paws. Practice looking up in a wistful way. Don't forget your ears! If you have floppy ears like some rabbits, try different positions. Do the ears look best lying flat along your back or draped over your eyes? For cats, try holding a toy such as a catnip mouse in your paws. Dogs should have a stick or a Frisbee, that serves the double purpose of making you look cute and your owner feel guilty.

It doesn't hurt to practice your tricks in front of a mirror too.
It's hard to improve on how cute I am here.

Rule 2: Don't do anything without a treat
Here's where most dogs go wrong, cats generally get this right. Don't chase that ball, shake that hand, or roll over if there is no obvious reward waiting for you when you're done. After you do your "trick," sit down and wait as long as it takes to get the treat.

This rule is critical! Breaking this rule even once leads your humans to believe that they are in control. This must not happen. The first few times may take a while but eventually your human's response time will shorten and the treat will be available immediately upon completion of the requested task.

Does it look like I am doing a trick without a treat here?

If you have broken this rule in the past, a great deal of patience and repetition will be required before you can retrain your human to the correct behavior. As you're waiting, remind yourself how you got into this mess and don't give in again.

Sheldon was just off-camera with the treat.

Rule 3: Don't forget the praise
It is important that you reward your human's good behavior with appropriate praise. After I get a tasty treat, I always remember to wiggle my ears. My humans love this, but yours may be different. Pay attention to your humans, what small thing can you do to make them happy? Then do that promptly after they've behaved correctly. Remember, delayed praise does not work with them, the more quickly you respond, the better.

In this photo I reward my owner by sitting on her lap.

Rule 4: Eeep so they can't sleep
This rule firmly establishes you as the dominant member of the pet-human partnership. Don't let your humans think they have control over when you deserve a treat. The best way to prove that you are in control is to wake your humans in the middle of the night and demand a treat. This will prove, even to their self-centric minds, that you are in control.

I implement this rule by jumping into my humans' bed and eeping loudly in their ears. If this doesn't work, I tap them on the face with my paw. Dogs may bark but not too loudly. If there are small children or babies in the household, you don't want to wake them or your humans will have to deal with that rather than giving you your treat.

This is another rule that is difficult for cats. No biting! Kneading is okay as long as it is not too painful. The goal here is to get a treat, not to be locked out of the bedroom. It is best if you can just purr very, very loudly. Humans find it almost impossible to get mad at you for that. If all else fails, sit on your human's face.

That should be enough to get you going. You can leave questions or additional tips in the comments section.

And remember, only positive feedback works with humans so don't bite the hand that feeds you!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Socially savvy capy

Survey Results:
How many toes do capybaras have?
  1. Four. You can only count one per foot since they're webbed. (3 12%)
  2. Ten. All normal animals have five digits on each foot. (3 12%)
  3. Sixteen. Four on each foot. (4 16%)
  4. Twelve. Three on each foot. (1 4%)
  5. Fourteen. Three on the left hand/foot, four on the right hand/foot. (0 0%)
  6. Fourteen. Four on the front, three on the back. (12 50%)
  7. Fourteen. Three on the front, four on the back. (1 4%)
24 votes (no multiples)
Well, you're half right. I mean exactly half of you were right. I have 14 toes, four on the front, three on the back. You get to count all of them even if they are webbed.

Starting view count: 2520
Followers: 49
Me checking my social media.
Don't pretend you never saw an animal use the computer before!

A fact that may surprise many humans is that the internet is slowly being taken over by animals. When you think about it, it makes sense. The internet is all about communicating interesting information from one--let's call them "person"--to another--again just a convenient term and not meant to imply human--"person." But what have humans got to say that's all that interesting? Nothing, that's what.

I was born on July 10, 2007. By August 21, when I was just over one month old, I wrote my first blog entry on MySpace. The title of that first post was "A day in the life of a capybara." Admit it, it sounds interesting right? Don't panic, here's the link. Try substituting the world's most populous vertebrate species for the word capybara in that title: A day in the life of a human. Are you yawning? I am.

About the same time I started blogging on MySpace, I fired up my own YouTube channel. As you can imagine, I was an immediate sensation. Well, not quite immediate. Since most people don't even know what a capybara is, it took a little while for them to warm up to me. My first video was of me licking the camera. I was adorable. I'd give you the link but you already have the link to the channel main page and you really ought to watch all of my videos not just the one or two I might happen to mention.

After YouTube came FaceBook. Took me a little while to warm up to that one. Switching between MySpace and FaceBook paradigms is confusing to capy brains. It's like humans are trying to torture us. Eventually I figured out most of FaceBook and now I think it's kind of fun.

Then, of course, there is this blog. Right now it's on BlogSpot but I'm hoping to move it to its own URL (

The last thing I've taken up is twitter. At first I hated it. The whole thing is humans posting little bits of non-information that no one cares about at all. And doing it real-time as if that's suddenly going to make it seem more important.

All of these internet outlets are called "social media." Humans claim they are the most social species (I guess they don't count ants, bees, termites and other obviously more social species, not to mention lichens and corals that are obligate symbiotes). But even granting them that title (which I am NOT), there are plenty of other social animals out there. And now we are taking over the internet!

I have to confess that I started the insurrection myself by building a guinea pig army on MySpace. Then I found General Napolean Buonaparte, a dog who is leader of L'Army des Animals on FaceBook. (Good job, Mon General!) And there are others, all working through the internet to transfer control of power from human to animal. (Ironically, the humans are always worrying about machines taking over. How silly is that?)

Along with our quest for world domination, we are not adverse to doing good deeds, especially if those good deeds come in the form of a party. Twitter is "The Place" for animal parties. I've been to two so far, @BrewstieButt, an artistic cat, organized a #pawpawty for his birthday. That was crazy! I also attended the bash put on by @FrugalDougal, a dog. Each of these #pawpawtys was a party and a fund-raising event for an animal-related charity. (It's amazing the kind of cash we animals have access to. Kind-of explains the recession.)

The #pawpawty was fizzling out when these tweets took place.

You should see the things we animals do when no humans are around! ZOMG, it's like we're all dogs or something. The transformation of the cats from aloof to bawdy is nothing short of shocking. I've even taken cats on spins around the pool. I can't say more or I might have to kill you--or at least bite you. You can read Brewskie's owner's blog about it here if you are interested (and you should be, for your own safety if nothing else).
I can control my owner's thoughts from down here.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Capybara in the classroom

Survey Results:
Should animals have to earn their treats?
What are you complaining about?
  1. She's not asking for anything that hard. (16 37%)
  2. I thought animals celebrate Halloween every day. (2 4%)
  3. If I could get my dog/cat/hamster to do that, you bet I would! (4 9%)
  4. It's humiliating what she does to you. Come live with me. (10 23%)
  5. You call that "earning?" When I was a pup/kitten/kid I had to balance a ball on my nose for a peanut! (11 25%)
43 votes total (no multiples)
Well, my readers are not very sympathetic to my plight. I am very disappointed.

Starting view count: 1888
Followers: 45

What a great day I had Monday! To start off, my owner stayed home for the day. I love it when she does 'cause we spend so much more time together. Then it was raining, which I love because of the mud potential. But the best part was that I got to go visit a school. I hadn't done that in a long time and I'd forgotten how fun it is.

Walking up to the school in the rain.

I went specifically to visit a fourth grade class where a student had done a science project on capybaras. What a lucky girl! It makes me wish I could really attend school instead of just visiting but I don't guess that's an option.

Sheldon, my owner and I all checked in at the school office and met our student's mother and her friend. Her friend fed me an apple. I don't know why my owner doesn't do that. Well, maybe because I wouldn't eat it last time she gave me one. But you have to keep trying.

Eating an apple in the office.

I made a big splash in the office. Naturally everyone loved me. Then we had to climb some stairs up to the classroom. I am surprisingly good at going up and down stairs. Once in the classroom, our student gave a short introduction to capybaras (good job, Skyler!). Then my owner did a question and answer session.

My introduction.
Look how cute and good I am being.

Here are some of her questions (answers at the bottom).
  1. What are the major predators of capybaras?
  2. Where do capybaras live in the wild?
  3. What do capybaras eat?
  4. What's special about capybara teeth?
  5. What is the second largest rodent?
The kids loved answering the questions.

The kids did great and I think they learned a lot. The thing they learned the most was that capbyaras are not just the largest rodent in the world, we are also the cutest.

When it was almost time to go, the original class filed out and a new one filed in. They didn't get much time with me so I felt sorry for them. Then on the way out, we stopped to visit with an eighth grade class. We were in the front of the school so other kids wandered by and I got mobbed a little bit. But I kept my cool. My owner gave a bunch of kids fresh blueberries so I just kept searching from hand to hand to find them. Some kids stuck out their hands when they didn't have blueberries and that seemed a bit dishonest but I guess I can't blame them.

Here are the answers:
  1. jaguars, anacondas, caiman, crocodiles, people
  2. eastern South America
  3. mainly grasses and water plants
  4. like all rodents, capybaras have teeth that grow throughout their lives
  5. beavers

Monday, April 20, 2009

The slow slide to nowhere

Survey Results:
What do you think of Caplin Rous' TV appearances?
  1. Haven't seen any of them but sure he was great! (11 26%)
  2. AP should have made the whole show about him! (28 68%)
  3. Move over Enzo, make room for Caplin Rous! (2 4%)
  4. TLC reality show! OMG that would be great! (8 19%)
  5. Fame is going to your head, you need to cut back. (0 0%)
41 votes total (multiple votes allowed)
It's nice to know none of you think I'm big headed. Come to think of it, I do have a pretty big head, especially the nose part of my head!

Starting view count: 877
Followers: 39

A strange thing happened this week: my life was changed by a photograph.

I have some capy friends in Houston to blame for this. Their owner posted some photos of them on his FaceBook page and my owner saw it and seized on it. It became an obsession with her. Below you see one of the original photos.

Houston capys playing on their toy.

For the next two days all my owner could talk about was how she was going to get one of those contraptions for me! Really, I am way too dignified for that. Those Houston capys don't have any class. But my owner would hear none of it, even though I eeped rather loudly. She searched the interweb. She scoured local stores, even those she hates like Target and WalMart.

When she didn't find what she wanted, I thought she would give up. But no, she settled--and therefore I settled--for less. She got me the dumb contraption you see me sitting on below.

I should have know this was going to go badly for me.

It is supposed to be a castle but it did not make me feel like a king. The Houstonian version is large enough--barely--for three capys. I hardly fit on this one by myself. And it doesn't have the same cute colors or holes for climbing through. But that didn't stop my owner. Next thing I knew, a popsicle was dangling in front of my face. When I went to grab it with my teeth, it moved farther from me and closer to that castle. Eventually I was sitting on it.

Believe me, I am not as content as I look!

Getting onto the platform was only worth 1/2 of a popsicle, if you can believe that. Amazingly, she expected me to willingly step onto that slippery blue slope and slide down! I resisted as long and as hard as I could but she still had that darned half of a popsicle and I wanted it!

She's dangling a popsicle just off-camera!

It looks so delicious!
Can't I just do a circle instead?

I couldn't let that popsicle go. Eventually I put one paw out and that was the end of it. Down the slide I went.

My owner gave me the other half of the popsicle when I got to the bottom and, I have to say, it was delicious. The problem now seems to be that I can't get a popsicle unless I climb up into the castle and slide down the other side. How do these things happen to me? Do I have a food addiction? Is my owner insane? What will she think up next?

Here's a link to my YouTube video video of my very first slide.

And if you missed me on Animal Planet, we're into reruns.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Fame and the Capybara

Survey Results:
Would you read a book about capybaras?
  1. Anything! If it's got a capybara it must be good (12 54%).
  2. Only if it features the real Caplin Rous and not some substitute. (7 31%)
  3. I read Capyboppy. I don't need to read another book about capybaras. (0 0%)
  4. Only if the book is edible. (3 13%)
22 Votes Total
These are troubling results. I had hoped a larger fraction of my readers would be interested in my owner's book. She lost 31% of you by using Caplynn Rous rather than the real me. And I am not at all sure she can regain the 13% of you who insist that the book be edible.

Me and Neptune during the Animal Planet shoot

Did y'all catch me on Animal Planet last night? I was the lead segment on the show Animal Planet's Most Outrageous Odd Looking Pets. I'll post a link to the video as soon as I can, for now hopefully you can just watch it over and over again on your DVR. I've watched it about 30 times already and I'm not tired of it yet.

Can't say the same for the rest of the show though. Sure the long-haired Peruvian guinea pigs were cute, but not any cuter than my little Neptune who only made a cameo on my segment. They could have replaced those long-hairs with him. Then they could change the name of the show from odd looking to cutest.

What's up with that anyway? Why did they throw me in with those odd-looking animals? I totally did not fit in. The next animal was Elwood, the ugliest dog. OMG! I do not belong on the same show with that animal. The featherless cockatoo, the super-muscled whippet and the gold-toothed cat were all diseased or had genetic deformities of some sort. The littlest dog looked like it was going to shake itself to death and the tallest dog can't reach the ground to eat out of its food bowl.

How do I belong with those animals? I am the picture of health and grace. I can swim like an otter. I am fully furred (or as fully furred as any capybara). My teeth, while large, fit inside my mouth where they belong. I admit I am on the small side for a capybara, but not freakishly so. I feel sorry for those other animals, really I do, but that doesn't mean I want to be lumped in with them. I guess it's the price you pay for fame. Everyone has to pay their dues climbing the ladder to stardom.

Me with KXAN's Jim Swift, On the Porch

Speaking of which, I suppose you have seen my appearance on KXAN? And this week I am also making a guest appearance on Enzoology. Hook your kiddos up with Enzo, he's into science and capybaras and that makes him a cool kid in my book. We have a cute moment at the end of the video where Enzo thinks a popsicle is for him when it's really for me. Silly kid, popsicles are for capybaras.

I didn't want to make it too easy for Enzo and his parents.
They had to scramble to earn their video of me.

Here's me with Enzo.
Don't know why he wouldn't roll in the mud with me.

I may be cutest when I'm muddy.

I let Enzo pet me while I swam.

Next on my voyage to stardom may be a stint on a reality show for The Learning Channel. Not sure about that yet. They say it is about people who are obsessed with their pets. Two things wrong with that. Firstly, it seems to put the emphasis on my owner instead of on me, where it belongs. Secondly, no level of devotion to a capybara could be considered obsessive. We deserve all the attention we get. And more.

(By the way, I do NOT eat 10 lbs of guinea pig food a day. I have no idea where AP got that.)

Friday, April 3, 2009

Bookworm Rodent

Survey Results:
Are capybaras odd-looking?
1) No! The most magical-looking animals ever! (4 10%)
2) No! They are beautiful! (2 5%)
3) No! They are incredibly cute. (23 58%)
4) No! Those people at Animal Planet need to take that back! (2 5%)
5) No! Humans are the odd-looking ones. (8 20%)

39 Votes Total
I suppose I should be happy with these results but I can't help noticing the low number of votes for option 2. Why is that?

My owner is planning an "Caplin Rous on Animal Planet" party for me in Austin during the airing of my the Animal Planet episode with me in it. Drop a line to if you'd like to come.

Me with Jim Swift, literally "On the Porch"

If you follow my blog you know that my owner drags me all over the place. I don't know why she does this since she's always complaining about how slow I am. In fact, capybaras strive to be the largest and SLOWEST rodents. Most of our relations are very fast so I think we probably own that title.

Last Wednesday we had a very unusual outing. For one thing, it was the middle of the week and she didn't go to work. I suppose we both deserved an afternoon off after our shoot with Jim Swift from KXAN. ( Another strange thing was that we went north of the river.

For those of you who don't live in Central Texas, you might not know that the city of Austin is divided in half by the Colorado River. (No, not THAT Colorado River. A lesser river by the same name.) My owner and I live way south of the river in an area sometimes known as Bubba-land and other times as Buda. Same difference. Being Bubbas, we seldom venture to the north were the more sophisticated populace resides.

The Count of Monte Cristo. Submitted by D.J. Berson

On this trip, we actually went to the campus of the University of Texas at Austin, a strange place for a little capybara. Did you know people actually walk there? Stranger than that is the event we went to, the Edible Book Festival. Can you imagine? Edible books? Actually not so weird; I eat paper when I can. I've never eaten a book but the only thing stopping me is opportunity.

Love in the Time of Cauliflower. Submitted by Emily Vinson

The festival proved smaller than we had imagined with only seven edible books. One of the people there told us that it is normally held on a weekend when participation is higher. Nevertheless, the entries were interesting and we met a bunch of nice folks. At the festival, everyone pet me and took my photo. I tried to pose as photogenically as possible but the crowd prevented taking best advantage of the light. The edible books were quite creative so my owner and Sheldon--who is always dragged along as a capybara wrangler--had a good time.

On the Road. Submitted by Nicole Davis

We could have been entry eight since someone commented that if you put Sheldon next to me you have the Steinbeck book "Of Mice and Men." Since capybaras are eaten in South America (shudder!), I fulfilled the edible requirement.

The cover of my owner's soon-to-be-available-on-Amazon book.
It features a capybara named Caplynn Rous.

My owner wants to make a real entry next year, hopefully of the book she (sort-of) wrote about me. I don't know how she'll convert that to something edible though. And I am NOT going to be part of the entry.