Why Is A Pelican Trying To Eat Capybara? Can A Pelican Eat Capybara?

Pelicans are large water birds that are known for their unique feature, the mouth pouch. 

Intro Video - Backtobirds
Intro Video - Backtobirds

The bird swoops their prey directly into the pouch and swallows them. 

Another characteristic of pelicans is that they are birds with a huge appetite.

Both these features of pelicans often make it easier to assume that the bird may also be capable of eating other animals than just fish.

A member of the rodent family, the capybara is one such animal that is often seen near pelicans. To help you know whether pelicans eat capybaras, below is detailed information about the same.

Pelican vs capybara | Can a pelican eat capybara?

Despite a few images and videos of pelicans trying to eat capybara going viral on the internet, it is not possible for a pelican to eat capybara. A capybara is too large for a pelican to swallow and digest.

Pelicans have a large gular pouch under their lower bill which might make it seem that they can eat a capybara. But even the pouch cannot help pelicans in eating a whole capybara.

Another reason why it is impossible for pelicans to eat capybaras is that the bird lacks sharp claws and teeth which are required to tear flesh. 

Also, pelicans’ beaks are not so sharp that they could get the job done. Their beaks are designed to scoop the food and not tear it.

A recent video of a Japanese zoo shares a similar scene in which a pelican suddenly lunges on a young capybara and tries to engulf it through its bill. 

Even being young, the capybara was too large for the pelican’s pouch.  It manages to get off its grip and moves away.

The pelican tried to scoop the capybara into its mouth again, but it simply couldn’t. After several attempts, the bird gives up.

Why do pelicans always follow capybara?

Pelicans always follow capybaras because of the common trait they share, that is, their love of water. 

While pelicans are dependent on rivers, lakes, and other sources of water for their food, the capybaras and other rodents enjoy a nice swim in these water sources.

Hence, undoubtedly, the paths of pelicans and capybaras cross. Also, pelicans have made an understanding that following capybaras will lead them to water and ultimately, to their favorite food- fish. Thus, the bird-like to be around rodents.

Why do pelicans try to eat capybaras?

Pelicans are not picky carnivores rather, they are ferocious eaters; they would try to eat anything to quell their hunger.

As both capybaras and pelicans live in areas near water, it is possible that sometimes capybaras are the nearest target the bird sees when they are hungry. 

This makes it easier to understand why pelicans often try their luck to see if capybaras can be their prey.

The video circulating the internet resembles the same behavior in which the pelican tries to eat the capybara to fulfill its appetite even if it is several times bigger than the bird.

It may also be possible that the pelican is simply goofing around with the capybara as they are known to nudge, peck, and play with their fur.

Can a pelican swallow a capybara whole?

As discussed above, a pelican cannot swallow a whole capybara because the rodent is too big to fit into its pouch.

Related FAQ’s

1. Will a pelican eat another bird?

A pelican can eat smaller birds if it can have a hold on them. Anything that fits into its mouth pouch can be considered its food; it does not matter whether it’s a bird, fish, or other small-sized animals.

2. Do pelicans choke?

Gulping a large-sized fish or a group of many small-sized fishes altogether may sometimes become difficult for pelicans. Due to this, the bird may end up choking on its food.

3. What predators eat capybara?

Capybaras are mostly eaten by jaguars, anacondas, and caimans. The young ones serve as prey to harpy eagles and ocelots.

The main threat to capybaras is humans who eat their meat and also use their hide to make leather.


Pelicans and capybaras are both related to water sources for different reasons.

This makes it common for them to cross each other paths. But this does not mean that any of them serves as prey for another.

A pelican may try to eat a capybara but it is not possible practically.