August 18, 2011 in Nation/World

Rodent is wanderer far from home

Associated Press
Associated Press photo

This image provided by the city of San Luis Obispo shows a capybara spotted in Paso Robles, Calif. Capybaras weigh about 100 to 120 pounds.
(Full-size photo)

PASO ROBLES, Calif. – A giant rodent native to South America has been spotted roaming in a city on California’s Central Coast.

Workers at a Paso Robles sewage treatment plant captured photos of the capybara swimming in the water storage pond before making its way toward the Salinas River late last month, the Tribune of San Luis Obispo reported Wednesday.

The California Department of Fish and Game estimates the capybara weighs 100 to 120 pounds and may be the same one seen at a ranch about a mile from the treatment plant a few years ago.

Known as the world’s largest rodents, capybaras have brown hair, short heads and barrel-shaped bodies.

“We had an idea of what it was, but we knew it wasn’t anything that was native to around here,” Nick Kamp, who works at the treatment plant, told the Los Angeles Times.

Bob Stafford, a Fish and Game wildlife biologist, said it was likely somebody kept it as a pet and it either escaped or was released into the wild.

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