World’s Largest Rodents Overtake Wealthy Community Built on Their Habitat

by Josh Lanier

Residents of a gated community in Argentina say their new neighbors are a nightmare. They moved in and started harassing everyone’s pets and pooping everywhere. Capybaras, the world’s largest rodents, have moved back into the area after being kicked out more than 20 years ago.

Developers bulldozed more than 3,000 acres of wetlands in the 1990s to create the Nordelta neighborhood, the New York Post notes. It nearly eradicated the capybaras’ population that lived there. Only nearly though. The rodents are thriving again, and they want their stuff back.

The capybaras and the Nordelta homeowners association are in an all-out war. A spokesperson told La Nación that homeowners are working to rebuild a nearby habitat so the rodents can move into there. But, as a counter, the capybaras pooped all over the neighborhood’s manicured lawns and chewed up everyone’s flowers.

It’s important to note that these rodents aren’t big rats. Capybaras can grow to be as big as labradors. They can reach four feet long and weigh more than 175 pounds as adults. Though, the animals are known to be peaceful and pose no direct threat to humans other than being a nuisance.

Compounding matters for the more than 40,000 homeowners in Nordelta, however, is that the capybaras have no predators left in the area. Jaguars and other animals hunt them, but they left when developers evicted the rodents, the NY Post reported. And the problem only going to get worse.

Right now, experts estimate that about 400 capybaras live in the Nordelta area. But with no predators and abundant food and romantic partners, their numbers are likely to balloon to more than 3,000 rodents shortly, Live Science said.

Activists: Homeowners Started War with Rodents

The owners of the multi-million dollar homes are fed up with the pests. They want the government to step in and build deterrents to keep the rodents out. But activists and environmentalists have joined forces with the capybaras.

They say the rodents didn’t invade the neighborhood. It’s the other way round.

“Nordelta invaded the ecosystem of the (capybara),” said Enrique Viale, an Argentine environmental lawyer, in a statement to the Guardian. “Wealthy real-estate developers with government backing have to destroy nature in order to sell clients the dream of living in the wild,” he added, “because the people who buy those homes want nature, but without the mosquitoes, snakes or (capybara).”

Unfortunately, there’s a good chance this will end in bloodshed. Some homeowners have threatened to shoot the rodents if the pests continue to harass the neighborhood. To protect the animals, environmentalists are lobbying the government on behalf of the capybaras. And it has grown into a full-fledged movement, La Nacion said.

Thousands have turned up to protests wearing cardboard capybaras heads and demanding the government protect the furry creatures.

“Nordelta is an exceptionally rich wetland that should never have been touched,” Sebastian di Martino, a biologist, told AFP. “Now that the damage has been done, the residents need to reach a certain level of coexistence with the (capybaras).”