Saturday, February 28, 2009

Meet the Parents

Coral, Carl and me on the road to Nacogdoches.

Before I start today’s blog, I have to admit that I did something bad. I knocked over the trash can in my owner’s office and ate half a sheet of paper. In a way this wasn’t really so bad because the paper was trash after all. I don’t know why my owner made such a big deal about it. She said I needed to warn my readers that if they get a capybara, they have to protect their trash. That doesn’t even make sense. And it’s not like I’m going through it looking for her financial records or anything. I was just hungry.

Now for the main story.

I know humans are obsessed with genealogy. Everyone wants to know all about their ancestors and how their heritage, genetic and cultural, influences their lives. I didn’t feel this way at all. I am more of a nurture rather than nature proponent in the whole nature-vs-nurture argument. Plus, my ancestors are all capybaras. That’s okay, I mean it’s only natural, but I’m soooo different from that. I am hardly a capybara at all. I consider myself a fusion between capybaras and humans, taking only the best of both species. I know what you’re thinking, that still makes me mostly capybara. But even a little human influence has a dramatic effect.

But on Thursday my whole family and I hopped in the car and went to visit the farm where I was born. My parents, Bonnie and Clyde, had a new litter of capy-kittens and everyone wanted to see if my baby siblings were as cute as I am. My parents and their owners live in a town called Nacogdoches, Texas. It’s a fair distance from Buda, off in the piney woods in East Texas, not far from the Louisiana border, so it’s not a trip we can make very often.

Most of the time the seat was down but sometimes I sat in the back and Carl put the seat up for a while.

The weather was beautiful with a high of nearly 90 degrees and blue skies. We took Hwy 21 up, which travels through mostly country and small towns. Our first stop was in Dime Box, Texas, about 1.5 hours from home. We wanted to go to the little museum but it was closed. I took my humans--in this case my owner, Coral and Carl, and Sheldon--for a walk around town. It’s pretty small so we saw nearly the whole place. We talked to some nice women who lived there and I let one of them pet me. She called the museum curator who came right over and opened the museum for us.

Me, Sheldon, Coral and Carl at the Dime Box water tower.

Or so I thought. Actually, she said, “Tie your dog up outside.” Humpfh! Firstly, I am not a dog. Secondly, I cannot be tied up since I can get out of my harness whenever I please. Believe me, if my humans leave me alone, I’m going to want out of that thing! The curator soon realized her mistake but didn’t seem as impressed with me as she should have been. She still wouldn’t let me in the museum. So my humans had to take turns.

In the meantime, I wandered off, dragging Carl along with me, to a field across the street. There was a drainage ditch with a little water in it that looked especially inviting. Only Carl wouldn’t let me get in. So I charged him! (Oh, don’t look so shocked. What did you expect me to do?) He managed to fend off my attacks until my owner came out by wrapping my leash around a tree. Then she let me go in the drainage ditch and everything was fine.

This is the drainage ditch. You can see why I wanted to get in it.

Our next stop was for lunch at Schlotzsky’s in College Station, right across the street from the Texas A&M campus. Coral and Carl both went to UT Austin so I think they were a little nervous. My humans all had sandwiches and I had some yogurt. Quite a few people came up to pet me, which made me feel loved.

Then it was straight through to Star Farms and my family. As I’ve said, my parents are named Bonnie and Clyde. Their owners are Rick and Abby West and they live at a place called Star Farms. You may not know it, but my parents and their humans are carnies. They have a traveling show in which my parents are billed as “Giant Rats.” I’m pretty proud of my carnie heritage. I’m a show-stopper myself so I think I'd be a natural in the family business.

The carnival setup for Bonnie and Clyde.
Not sure I approve of the giant rat trap.

I spent some time reminiscing with Rick and Abby, only I don’t remember much since I left Star Farms when I was only eleven days old. In fact, I didn’t recognize my own parents! They aren’t friendly like I am. They can’t walk on a leash or anything. Rick said he has to move each of them into a crate and then use a fork lift to get them onto their trailer when they head out on the circuit. You can see how little I have in common with them. When my owner wants to take me someplace, she puts on my leash, walks me out to the car and I jump in by myself.

Me with Abby West. I liked her.
This is Rick West with my parents, Bonnie and Clyde.

My siblings were pretty adorable. There are four of them and they don’t have names yet. They sure could squeak up a storm! And they didn’t like to be held. I think I was like that when my owner first got me. It’s their wild instincts. Hopefully they’ll get owners like mine who will teach them not to be afraid.

Me checking out on of my new siblings while Sheldon takes video and Coral holds the baby.
Two of my four new siblings. I have to admit, they are cute. But they are not cuter than I am!
Abby West feeding one of the babies. I used to drink out of a bottle just like that.

All of my humans wanted to pet and hold the babies and after a while, that started to bug me. I admit, Abby is pretty nice and I liked it when she held my leash and pet my head. But I still did not like all the attention my brothers and sisters were getting instead of me. After a while I became angry and started clicking at them, give me back my humans! We left not long after that.

In the car getting ready to go home. I have a special bed for the car.

On the way home it was mostly dark. We stopped just a couple of times, once for gas and once for dinner, which was again in College Station. I got out to graze and I ate another bowl of yogurt. Lots of people stopped to ask questions and admire me. My owner put out my water bowl and I sat in it several times. I hate going so long without a nice bath or swim. But I wouldn’t urinate or defecate in it like my owner wanted me to. In fact, I held it all day until we got home. Then I ran to the bathroom to use my normal bowl! What a relief.

You can view a video of this on my YouTube channel at

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Circle of Humiliation

As you can imagine, it is difficult for a capybara to fit in with a human family. Don’t get me wrong, I love my family, but they are sometimes quite a trial.

This week my owner decided to bring up the whole “Do a Circle” trick again. She found this a long time ago on YouTube. In that video (Minipan Circling) a girl is teaching her guinea pig, Minipan, how to do the circle trick. The circle trick is just what it sounds like, the poor, starving pet is forced to spin around in a full 360-degree circle to get some tiny morsel.

My owner decided it would be cute if I did that trick. Well, I wasn’t having any of it. I pretended I had no idea what she was talking about and just kept looking at her with my dark, featureless but pleading eyes. Eventually she gave up on the idea and we all breathed a sigh of relief, especially me.

But I’ll tell you something, she spends way too much time on YouTube. Eventually she came across this video (Zoo Capybara Circling) showing a zoo capybara in Japan that knew the circle trick! Can you believe a capybara would stoop to that? Well, zoo capybaras are desperate animals and are just dying for treats--I mean attention. That video set my owner off again.

A couple of days ago she got me in the kitchen with a popsicle, which is my current favorite food (outside of yogurt). I stood on my hind legs and begged (I know, not very dignified!). I waved. I did my tap-a-tap-a trick. Nothing happened. She wouldn’t give me the popsicle! Instead she held it over to the side of my head and kept repeating some gibberish. I looked at it with hungry eyes and reached to grab it but she moved it farther away.

Let me tell you, I’m no dummy. I knew her evil plan. But what could I do? I wanted that popsicle. So I turned a little. She moved it again. I turned some more. She moved it more. This went on and on until I was all the way back to facing her and then she finally gave me a bite. It tasted delicious. Maybe even more delicious because I had to work for it. But then again, maybe not.

She kept doing that for every single bite of the popsicle. Eventually I gave up and just did the danged turn when she waved the popsicle. It’s faster that way and I don’t have a lot of patience.

Later in the day, we had a repeat of the same stupid procedure. For every bite I had to turn a full circle. By the third popsicle, I’d given up and didn’t even pretend not to know what she was talking about.

The next day proved more of the same, only this time I had to turn clockwise rather than counter clockwise. I sadly confess that I didn’t put up much of a fight. It only took two popsicles to convince me I’d have to turn that way too if I wanted that popsicle.

So there you have it. A sad story of desperation, deprivation and humiliation. You can view the whole thing on YouTube at: Caplin Rous Circling.

Don’t hate me for what I’ve become...

A more dignified way to ask for a popsicle. Ah for the good old days.

Me forced to circle to get a bite.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Toenail Torture

I don't think this is a good idea. We should get out of here.

Yesterday was Friday the 13th. Like all capybaras, I’m not superstitious, but I still should have known something bad would happen on that day. I never would have guessed just how bad it would be.

The morning started out normally enough. I got my usual 7:00 am yogurt. Delicious, as always. Afterward, I went to my bed in the dinning room (my owner calls this area “Caplin’s Corner.”) Through my sleepy ears, I listened to my owner’s normal morning routine: take a shower, feed the horses, get her stuff and go out to the car.

I heard her car pull out of the garage but it didn’t drive off. Instead, my owner got out and came back in the house. She got my harness and leash and came after me! She dragged me out to the car and off we went.

A few minutes later we stopped in a strip mall. Sheldon met us there and he got me out of the car. We went into a building that was vaguely familiar. I weighed in at 98.7 lbs. Then they took me to a little room. There was a bench in the room and I jumped up on that and sat with my owner while we waited for something to happen.
Me with my owner...waiting.
Me with Sheldon...still waiting.
Sheldon is wearing a capybara shirt from
It's a drawing of him holding me last time we were at the vet.
The irony was not lost.

Eventually the vet and her helper came in. The vet checked my eyes and ears and listened to my heart and my breathing. Then came the bad part. She tried to grab my feet! My owner held me really tightly while the vet grabbed my hind paw and used some weird instrument on it. I squirmed and struggled and jerked my foot until I got away. My little heart pounded in my chest and--I’m embarrassed to say this--I urinated all over the floor. They wiped it up with towels and then got me a clean blanket to stand on.
The torture begins.

After a while, they tried again. The noise hurt my sensitive little ears. I could feel my foot vibrating. I kept imagining a serrated electric knife or a chain saw hacking away at my toenail, with only a matter of time until it reached my toe and then my foot! I eeped as loudly as I could but my owner only hugged me tighter. Finally I managed to struggle free. I stood panting on the blanket thinking the worst was over.They even put this blanket over me to lull me into a false sense of security.

But it wasn’t! A few minutes later, the vet came back! This time she tried to cut off my toenails--or was it my toes? I broke free again and at least got them to give up on the clipper. One small error and there goes my toe! But did they care?

After that, Sheldon held me down and the vet worked on my toenails with the mechanical grinder. Sheldon is strong and I couldn’t get away but I sure made it hard for the vet to use that “instrument” on me.

It looks like Sheldon is hugging me but really he's restraining me for torture.
This photo isn't for the weak-hearted.

Finally, they let me go. I was exhausted. I just wanted to get out of there. Sheldon led me outside where I soon collected a group of admirers. After a few minutes, my owner came out and the three of us went to lunch. The ordeal ended with an uneventful trip home. What a relief.

I do have to admit that my toenails do look nicer now. And they were getting a bit in my way with how long they were. Still, I’m never going back!

(You can find a video of this event at

Monday, February 9, 2009

Introducing Caplin Rous

Hi! Welcome to my blog. This is my first entry so let me tell you a little bit about myself.

I am not new to the internet. When I was a baby, my owner wrote a weekly column for the San Marcos Daily Press. She posted her articles on blogger under the username Typpy. They’re still there so if you want to see some of her early reflections on what it’s like to keep a capybara, you can look at her blog.

I’ve been on MySpace since I was just a capy-kitten. About six months ago, I joined FaceBook. And now I even have a store featuring me on CafePress. But my biggest internet footprint is on YouTube ( My owner has been putting videos of me up there since day one.

Day one was actually day eleven for me. That’s how old I was when my owner got me. But that brings me to my “25 Fascinating Facts About Me!” I wrote this for my MySpace blog but it seems like a good place to start here. Just a little background information.

1. I was one of five capy-kittens but by the time my owner came to claim me, all my siblings were gone. I think maybe I was the runt of the litter.

2. I have four toes on my front feet but only three on my back. They are all webbed except the little one on my front feet. And they have big claws that look like incipient hooves. Those claws really hurt if I step on you, which I have no compunction about doing.

3. My parents were carnies. Their owners take them around to small fairs and carnivals where they are book as "The World's Largest Rats!" I am proud of my carnie heritage but capybaras are NOT rats (not that there's anything wrong with that).

4. I don't like walking on slick, hard surfaces. When I do, I curl my toes just like I would in the swamp, only instead of making it easier, it just makes me slide around.

5. My favorite food is yogurt, specifically blueberry yogurt. When I eat it I get it all over my nose and chin and then it drips on the floor. My owner always tries to clean my face with a sponge but I don't like that so I resist and try to run away.

6. I like to sleep under the covers. But I wake up hungry around 4:00 am and then I pester my owner and/or Rick by eeping and pushing my nose in their faces trying to get them to give me treats. I really want yogurt but for some reason they don't want to give it to me at that time.

7. I like to take a warm bath when the weather is cold. In the morning, I take one while my owner gets ready for work. She has a TV in the bathroom so she can watch the news while I soak. When she leaves the bathroom, I leave too, and it's always too soon. I could stay in the bath for hours!

8. I always poop in the water. My owner has a water bowl set up for me next to the toilet in the little bathroom. The bowl is kind-of small for me now, I barely fit in, so sometimes I miss a little.

9. Coral and Carl are staying with us now and I like to chase them down the hall. It's not that I don't like them, but they never spend any time with me. They don't pet me or feed me treats or scratch my stomach. And they use my bathroom, which I don't like sharing.

10. Coral and Carl have a guinea pig named Neptune and he is my new best friend. I still miss The Rabbit a lot but Neptune helps fill the void.

11. I have my own store at My owner is its best customer.

12. I mostly swim underwater. Unlike humans, I can close my ears and my nose when I swim so I don't get water in them. I swim with my eyes open. Experts say capybaras can hold their breath for five minutes. I never go more than about 30 seconds.

13. I like to lie on the table in my pool and have people feed me grass one blade at a time. That is the life for a capybara.

14. When we go out, people often mistake me for other animals. The most common misidentifications are: wombat, tapir, potbelly pig and javelina. One person asked if I was a guinea pig who had been exposed to radiation. Yet even a toddler barely able to talk called me a "giant mouse." I don't know how he even knew I was a rodent.

15. When my owner leaves for work, I run down to the corner of the yard and eep for her pitifully. Usually she stops the car and gives me a little treat. But she still leaves, which is wrong of her.

16. I am a picky eater. Some of my favorite foods that I will no longer eat are: yogurt drops, corn-on-the-cob, lettuce, frosted mini-wheats and craizens. Soon there won't be anything for my owner to feed me.

17. I like to eat ice but only after it has been seeped in Diet Coke. Whenever I see my owner drinking a Diet Coke in a glass, I jump up and put my paws on her lap and beg for the ice. She has taken to drinking her cokes with ice just to please me.

18. I have a small tuft of long hairs right between my ears. I think it makes me unique except I'm not sure that all capybaras don't have that.

19. My owner wrote a book about a cat and a capybara. She got a literary agent but the book hasn't sold to a publisher yet. She is thinking of self-publishing so that it will be out in time for my Animal Planet appearance. The capybara in the book is a girl and its name is Caplynn Rous.

20. When I was a baby, my owner thought I was a girl. She didn't find out until I was about four months old that I am a boy.

21. I like to go on long walks on the property. By long I mean time not distance. I am not a fast animal. When we go on walks my owner lets me choose the speed and direction. I wish the drought would end so there would be more interesting things to eat while we're walking. And maybe I could swim in the creek again. That would be heaven.

22. One time when we were walking I almost stepped on a coachwhip snake. My owner says I'm afraid of snakes but that snake didn't scare me. I don't know why.

23. I like to go for rides in the car, especially now that we have a new red car that I look really good in. I stick my nose out the window when I can but my owner mostly keeps it rolled up because she's afraid I'll jump.

24. There are only two people in the world that I hate: Carol and Philip. Philip is my owner's son. One day he stomped his feet at me and this brought out my territorial instincts. I can't seem to get over that. I don't know why I hate Carol.

25. I bit my owner once but I would NEVER do that again. Probably. I mean, you're never supposed to say never, right?