California Water Worker Snaps Pics of Giant Rodent
Turns out to be a capybara, the world's biggest rodent
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 18, 2011 4:57 PM CDT
Updated Aug 21, 2011 6:32 PM CDT
A capybara eats a plant at the zoo in Asuncion, Paraguay. The capybara is a semi-aquatic rodent of South America.   (AP Photo/Jorge Saenz)
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(Newser) – Turns out that a giant 100-pound rodent recently spotted in California is ... well, a giant 100-pound rodent. Called a capybara, it was photographed by a water treatment plant worker who posted the pics—which quickly went viral, the Los Angeles Times reports. "He seemed pretty content," said one worker of the creature, which was wandering around the watery facility. "He was pretty happy in there." (See the photos here.)

Illegal to own in California, the South American rodent probably escaped or was released by an owner and allowed to roam Paso Robles, Calif. Stories of a capybara in a pond near a golf course, and frightening horses on private land, aroused officials but led to little else. Now a Fish and Game spokesman is advising people to avoid the capybara, which is more "weird-looking" than dangerous but could get defensive if cornered. "We hope that it lives a happy capybara life in Paso Robles," he said.