It isn’t every day that you get the opportunity to interview a rodent of unusual size, especially one who readily blogs and updates a Twitter account. So when I learned that the aforementioned rodent lived in the Buda area, I knew I’d need to feature him on the Best of Texas blog. Little did I know that he was quite the talker.
Before we start the interview, how would you like to be addressed? Mr. Rous? Cappy? Caplin? CR?
You can call me Caplin, that’s what my friends call me. My owner sometimes calls me Capybara, but mostly when she’s trying to make a point. Sometimes she calls me Capyboppy after the famous pet capybara from the book by Bill Peet. That always makes us a little sad because the book does not have a happy ending (and real life is even worse).
I know you just had a great big birthday party. Congrats on turning two! Did you have a lot of fun?
My party was the best! I got some great presents including a terrific hand-painted card from Jim Perry, a long time stalker–I mean friend–and blueberries and a gift card for yogurt. But the best thing was seeing all my friends and having them pet me and feed me treats. And I like wearing a birthday hat. Oh, and all the kids got stickers with drawings of me on them.
And how’re you doing this week?
So far this week has been pretty calm. I went for a photo shoot at the Hays County Free Press on Thursday morning. I liked that because it made my owner go to work later than usual and spend more time with me. Otherwise, just hanging out in the pond or taking a dip in the pool. Oh, and I have to “eep” at the gate every morning when my owner leaves and while she’s feeding the horses. I can be surprisingly loud.
Have you started gearing up for the big book reading on August 6th?
I am ready! But I’m not doing the reading. I am doing the “Capybara Encounter” part, which I am very good at. I like to teach people about capybaras and about all rodents, so I am looking forward to that. I get to wear my fancy rhinestone harness that my Facebook friend Mansie OLeary made for me. I love how I look in that. I think when people see how cute I am, they are bound to love rodents and all the kids will want to read a book about capybaras.
Now that it’s getting super hot in Texas, I’ll bet you’ve been swimming a lot?
We capybaras always spend a lot of time in the water. I have three water sources at my disposal. In the morning, I take a soak in the bathtub while my owner gets ready for work. Later I’ll go out and chill in the pond, sometimes in the water and sometimes in the mud around the edges. And then I have my swimming pool for when I want some real exercise. I have a million toys in the pool but my favorite is probably my broom.
Does the chlorine in your pool ever bother you? Turn your hair green?
My owner doesn’t put a lot of chlorine in but we have to use some or the pool will turn green in no time at all. My owner is pretty conscientious about vacuuming out any particulate stuff every day when we have our afternoon swim to try to slow the process. Since I only spend about two hours per day in the pool, the chlorine level doesn’t bother me.
You’ve garnered a lot of fame due to your MySpace, Facebook and Twitter accounts, and I’m actually a big fan of your blog. How did you come about the idea of starting your own blog?
My first blog was on my MySpace page. My owner said people wanted to know what it was like to be a pet capybara. Seems there aren’t very many of us and virtually no information on what it takes to keep one of us happy. That’s how I started being an ambassador for capybaras. And I was only three months old!
How are you handling the fame and attention?
Sometimes when people see me and they ask what kind of animal I am, my owner says I am an “attention hog.” That isn’t really fair, I don’t ask for all the attention, it just comes my way. But I admit, I do like it. And if I ever want to go anywhere–and I love seeing the wider world–I just have to get used to it anyway. Might as well enjoy it.
One of the things I’ve noticed is that your spelling and grammar are impeccable, is that something you got from the Capy side of the family or do you get that from your person?
I have to give my owner some credit for that. She’s a writer, as you may know, as well as an engineer. That combination makes her good at grammar and obsessive about details. Why this matters to my writing is explained more in my next answer.
You have four toes on your front feet but only three toes on your back feet. Do the extra toes in the front help with typing?
I don’t actually do my own typing, or at least not much of it. Like most anipals on the web, I use mind control. Mostly I lie down on my window seat next to the computer or under the computer desk and transmit my thoughts directly to my owner. She does the typing for me and I supervise. It’s funny because when we’re done she will often rub her eyes and say something like, “How did it get so late?”
I know you live with some other critters; can you tell us your thoughts on being a part of such a diverse menagerie?
I have two tortoise co-pets, Leopolda and Casseo, who are out in the yard with me during the day. I have to say, tortoises do not respect your space. I have a corner that I have claimed as my own and they know it. But they like to walk the fence and they’ll just barrel into my corner without any regard as to whether I’m there or not. I get up, charge them, click and huff, but it makes no difference. I’d bite them but I can’t figure out how to get a grip.
My snake co-pets are another matter. They stay in their cages and that’s the way I like it. I know they are too little to eat me but they are boas and anacondas are boas and anacondas eat capybaras. So I’m not too happy about them. Sometimes they give me nightmares.
Of the four horses, the only one I really interact with is Buzz. He is twenty-two years old and a nice, friendly, calm horse. We get along great. Once when I was little, Phoenix, who is the youngest, tried to step on me so my owner doesn’t let me interact with the others anymore.
Who do you think is the alpha animal at your house?
That should be me but I think you’ll have to read my discussion of Maple in the answer to your next question.
Do you have any pets?
I consider our new Dutch bunny, Maple, to be my pet. I am bigger and I have seniority so that makes her mine. But she is fast and she can hop onto almost anything. My owner and I are working on a 9,000+ piece puzzle, which has taken us months, and one day there’s Maple hoping all over the table and scattering pieces around. Now we have to push the chairs in so she can’t get up there. Another thing about Maple is that she comes up and bites my whiskers while I’m sleeping. She’s cute but she’s a bit of a pain.
I saw that you took a trip to visit other capybaras. What was that like?
In the wild, capybaras live in bands with several females and their offspring and just one or two males. When I met the other capybaras, I was confused. I couldn’t figure out who was the boss. I even clicked at my baby siblings, which is crazy and just shows how stressed out I was. In fact, I sometimes forget I am a capybara or how a capybara is supposed to act.
Do you get along well with cats or dogs?
I see dogs and cats all the time when I go out with my owner. I like dogs, they are interesting animals. They come in so many sizes and colors! Most dogs are pretty nice and we get along fine but some dogs bark at me, which I don’t like. Cats tend to be afraid of me, pretty much like the cats in my owner’s book. I don’t know why because I like cats.
For the record, you are a rodent, albeit a very handsome and wise looking rodent. Why do you think rodents get a bad rap? Personally, I blame horror movies and the plague.
I think the plague should be blamed on fleas and poor living conditions and leave the rats blameless. It wasn’t really their fault. Lots of rodents are kept as pets including rats, mice, guinea pigs, hamsters and gerbils. People in the know, know rodents are (mostly) smart, affectionate, clean animals. I am doing my part to make sure everyone is exposed to rodents in a positive way.
What would your ideal day consist of?
Ideally, my owner would not have to go to work and would spend the whole day with me. We’d start with some yogurt for breakfast followed by an hour long soak in the tub. More yogurt would probably be good at that point. Then a nap over in my corner of the living room. After the nap, maybe my owner could feed my blueberries on the couch while I sit in her lap. A bit of grazing could be followed by a nap in my corner of the yard. More yogurt or a popsicle or a yogurt popsicle. A long swim in the pool with my owner and then some work on that ridiculous puzzle before more yogurt and bed. Oh, and maybe go out to lunch or a pet store during the day so I can meet people.
How do you spend your days and weekends?
Pretty much some variation of what I said for the previous answer but probably without so much yogurt. Weekends, my owner really does spend most of the day with me except when she’s out with the horses or goes to the store or something. Weekdays I am on my own but I still do most of that stuff.
Do you take baths often? Do you have a preferred shampoo and conditioner?
I am in the water a lot, tub, pond or pool, not sure if any of it qualifies as a “bath.” I don’t scrub or use any kind of soap, shampoo or conditioner. I am naturally a pretty clean animal except when I deliberately get dirty. I have to admit, I love mud but with the weather the way it’s been, I haven’t had much opportunity to indulge.
I know you love yogurt and popsicles, do you have any other favorite treats? I heard a rumor that you really enjoy eating toothpaste.
Toothpaste is a new favorite but my owner will only give me a little dab twice a day. I also love crispy, green pears. Blueberries are about my favorite thing in the world, next to yogurt. Blueberry yogurt is amazing. Best of all is blueberry yogurt frozen into a popsicle! My male human, Rick, makes those for me and I love him for it.
Do you have any favorite toys?
In the tub I have a Frisbee that I like. In the pool I have my broom (mentioned above) and my inner tube that I like to use for floating. I also have a slide that my owner forces me to go down if I want a treat. I wish I had more will power.
Do you have any favorite local animal organizations or charities?
My owner and I just “adopted” one of the capybaras at the San Antonio Zoo with some of the proceeds from my book (my owner thinks she wrote it but see my reference to mind control above). We also give some things to PAWS, the animal shelter in Hays County where we live.
Who is your favorite Beatle?
That’s tough. I think I have to go with Paul for two reasons: he’s alive and he’s “the cute one.” Personally, I can hardly tell one human from another but I am cute myself so if I were human I’d like to still be cute.
If forced to choose, what color nail polish would you wear?
Black. My toenails are black anyway.
If you could have any super power in the world, what would it be?
I would like to change size that way my owner could take me everywhere with her. I especially would like to sneak into the theater to watch the new G-Force movie because it is about guinea pigs. It is really hard to hide a full-sized capybara in your coat pocket.
Who will play the part of Caplin Rous when Hollywood makes a story of your life?
I think the movie should be animated, I can’t imagine there is another capybara out there to play my part. Well, maybe my little brother Dobby. He lives in Seattle.
If you could be a spokescapy for any product in the world, what would it be?
I think I would promote the ice skating costumes designed by Mansie OLeary. She does wonderful work and she did a great job on my harness. Or I would promote the art of Jim Perry. If it had to be more of a commodity, then I can see myself promoting Yoplait.
Thanks so much! I really appreciate you taking time out of your very hectic schedule to visit with me. Do you have any final thoughts?
Thank you for interviewing me. I hope everyone comes to our book reading on at the Buda Public Library. I’m sure my owner is going to pick a fascinating part of the book to read and while she’s reading you can watch me!
So there you have it folks! Be sure to visit the Buda Public Library on August 6th for a reading of Melanie Typaldos’ book ‘Celeste and the Giant Hamster’, and be sure to say hello to Caplin! Click here for details.