The world's largest known rodent, the capybara, was spotted roaming the waters of the Paso Robles Wastewater Treatment Plant in California.

Based on photos taken by a plant employee and an examination of the footprints by the Department of Fish and Game, the animal weighted an estimated 100-120 lbs.

Capybaras can reach the size of a large dog and are South American natives who roam from Panama to northeast Argentina, east of the Andes.

The animal spotted in Paso Robles, a city in a wine growing region about 175 miles northwest of Los Angeles, was seen near the Salinas River and hot spring, a water habitat that resembles the regions where the rodent lives in South America.

Capybaras are avid swimmers and can hold their breath underwater for upwards of five minutes. Also, according to the Department of Fish and Game, the rodent spends most of its roughly four-year lifespan near the water.

"I received a call from the city of Paso Robles sewer plant," Tom Tognazzini of the Department of Fish and Game told local station Fox 35.

"A capybara was consuming vegetation in the sewer ponds. It actually worked its way from south to north along each pond strip," he added.

Surprisingly, though this is the first time it's been caught on camera, this is not the first time a capybara has been spotted in the Paso Robles area. In fact, this is the third sighting in three years. Officials believe all are likely the same rodent and that there are no other capybaras in the area.

"About three years ago, we had a second hand report from Hunter Ranch Golf Course of a capybara in the lake system. That sighting was never verified," Tognazzini told Fox 35.

"The second sighting was a on a farm. The property owner called to report they had a capybara stealing alfalfa hay from their horses. The property owner came out, discharged a shotgun round at the capybara and didn't know whether or not they had hit it," he said.

Officials believe that the capybara is an escaped pet, though in California it is illegal to have the rodent without a special permit, normally given to zoos or individuals who exhibit wild animals.

For now, the capybara is believed to be roaming free in the Paso Robles area.

View footage of the plant and the photos of the rodent below:

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy