Maybe you’ve heard of the fox village and the bunny and cat islands, but did you also know the biggest rodent in the world likes to hang around in hot springs in Japan? The capybara as the rodent is called likes the hot water in the winter so much they have a regular ‘bath time’ in the zoo’s.
Credit: Meerkat Mania
Every year during the coldest months (check the website of the zoos) the capybara’s relax in the same way the Japanese do: by chilling out in a hot spring. And that is incredibly funny to watch! By now it’s become a more than 30 year old tradition that has spread to zoos throughout the country.
Introducing the capybara hot spring in Japan
How did this wacky but fun tradition start? We’ll have to thank a zookeeper at Izu Shaboten Park for that. Capybara are known for loving the water. However, in the winter they had to stay out of it because of the freezing temperatures and could only huddle together to stay warm (aaahhw…). The zookeeper was cleaning out the capybara exhibit with hot water and noticed how all the rodents huddled up in the pools that formed while he was cleaning. When they saw the capybara relaxing like that the idea for a ‘hot spring’ for the rodents was born.
Credit: izu shaboten park group
And I have to say that they look extremely cute in the onsen, sometimes even bathing with citrus fruits because that’s a winter solstice tradition of the Japanese. It gives the water a nice aroma and some rodents even stay in the hot springs for an hour! I’m a bit jealous of that… As I said before, the hot springs are only open during the coldest months, so check the website of the zoo you want to go to before you visit to see if they are open.
Capybara lemon bath
Watch the capybara’s soak in a well-deserved (at least that is how they look) lemon bath. I can’t get enough of those rodents looking completely comfortable when they’re all neatly lined up in the hot spring.
Capybara hot springs in Japanese zoo’s
Luckily we don’t have to search for one particular zoo to see this funny happening. Nowadays most zoo’s have their own capybara hot spring, although they differ in size. Some may look like an extensive pool while other zoo’s are more likely to have a big wooden tub for the rodents. If you want to visit a zoo that has a capybara hot spring for sure you can visit the one in the Nagasaki bio park in Nagasaki, Nagano’s Suzakashi Zoo in Nagano, the Izu Shaboten Park in Shizuoka and in the Saitama children’s zoo in Saitama.
Take a soak with the capybara’s!
Yeah, I’m not kidding, you have an opportunity to take a soak together with the world’s largest rodent! The Izu Shaboten Park in the Shizuoka prefecture created a Capybara Rainbow Plaza, where you can play with the rodents and even swim together. During winter the water will be heated (just like the ‘ordinary hot springs’ for capybara’s), so you can visit a hot spring with capybara, how cool is that?!
Want to visit more places with animals? Read the article about the fox village Japan.