A Better Friend Than a Porcupine

A Better Friend Than a Porcupine

March 18, 2020

Capybara eating watermelon with friends

Fun furry animals like mice, rats, squirrels, beavers, and porcupines are all part of one big family. They’re “rodents,” meaning their front teeth grow all the time, and their chewing wears them down. But who’s the biggest rodent of all? The capybara. It almost looks like a small bear or a very big-nosed dog, and it’s happy to hang out with other creatures. At an animal shelter in Arkansas, a group of puppies met a rescued capybara named Cheesecake, and right away decided she should be their new mom. They snuggle up to her, climb on her, and splash in the kiddie pool with her. Cheesecake also happily shares watermelon with a baby deer and a turtle. They’re probably all glad she isn’t a porcupine!

Wee ones: If there are 9 puppies plus the capybara, how many furry animals are in this “family”?

Little kids: If you took Cheesecake for a walk, how many legs would the two of you have together?  Bonus: How many legs do the capybara, deer and turtle have all together?

Big kids: Porcupines weigh about 35 pounds, but capybaras weigh around 100 pounds more than that!  About how much does a capybara weigh?  Bonus: If Cheesecake is exactly 4 feet long, is she longer or shorter than you – and by how many inches?

The sky’s the limit: If the shelter has twice as many turtles as capybaras and 10 times as many puppies as turtles, and there are 69 animals in total, how many animals of each type do they have?




Wee ones: 10 animals.

Little kids: 6 legs.  Bonus: 12 legs.

Big kids: 135 pounds.  Bonus: Different for everyone…subtract 48 inches from your height, or subtract your height from 48 inches.

The sky’s the limit: 3 capybaras, 6 turtles and 60 puppies.  Each capybara is part of a “set” of 23 animals: 1 capybara, 2 turtles, and 20 puppies – and 69 is 3 x 23. So there are 3 sets in total.

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About the Author

Laura Overdeck

Laura Overdeck

Laura Bilodeau Overdeck is founder and president of Bedtime Math Foundation. Her goal is to make math as playful for kids as it was for her when she was a child. Her mom had Laura baking before she could walk, and her dad had her using power tools at a very unsafe age, measuring lengths, widths and angles in the process. Armed with this early love of numbers, Laura went on to get a BA in astrophysics from Princeton University, and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business; she continues to star-gaze today. Laura’s other interests include her three lively children, chocolate, extreme vehicles, and Lego Mindstorms.

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