Perhaps you’ve heard of orphaned puppies being hand raised. Lacking a mother, humans often step in to do their best at mothering duties for unfortunate pups. Well, this group of puppies was raised by the most unlikely of mothers, one of the world’s largest species of rodents.
Meet Cheesecake, a capybara living in an animal sanctuary, Janice the caregiver to the sanctuary and a litter of orphaned puppies. Janice explains, “One day I had a litter of orphaned puppies that were ready to move out of the house and this” referring to the Cheesecake’s pen “was the most secure pen for a little puppy and I knew she was social with other animals and she took right to it. She’s had every litter since.” And how many litters has she raised? “Well, this year alone she’s on litter number four” Janice reports.
Raising puppies can be fun but a daunting task if the human caregiver needs to be their full-time mom. Thankfully Cheesecake who has never had young of her own greatly lightens Janice’s load. “She sleeps with them. She eats with them” Janice explains. So we know Cheesecake is a natural mom, but how do the puppies feel about having a large rodent for a mother? “They’ll play with her. They’ll groom her,” Janice said.
This seems to be a perfect and unlikely match born out of unfortunate circumstances that benefit both Cheesecake and the puppies. “She seems to enjoy it. I think she just has that aura around her that makes them feel safe and secure.”
Interestingly Capybara’s are the world’s largest rodent, a relative of the guinea pig, rock caive, and chinchilla. They are highly social animals, sometimes living in groups as large as 100 through 10-20 are more common. They are a semi aquatic animal indigenous to South America.