Capybaras As Pets – Everything You Need To Know

Capybaras As Pets_ Everything You Need To Know

They might be considered rodents – the biggest rodent in the world, in fact – but capybaras make cute pets.

They’re herbivores, can live for many years, and are very social.

Where can you find capybaras?

These animals can be found in every country in South America, except for Chile, and they tend to inhabit areas near lakes, swamps, and rivers. They’re similar to other rodents that hail from South America, such as guinea pigs.

However, their fur is reddish brown, with a bit of gray, and unlike other rodents to which they are similar, you won’t find them in other colors.

If you’re interested in purchasing a capybara, there are some important things to know, such as that it costs a few hundred dollars to purchase one and they require lots of loving care to prevent them from being dangerous.

Here’s the lowdown on having capybaras as pets.

Capybara Fact Sheet

Where they’re originally fromCentral and South America
Other names for capybarasChigüire, chigüiro, carpincho
Scientific nameHydrochoerus hydrochaeris
DietGrass and water plants, squash, grain, and melon. Capybaras eat up to 8 lbs of fresh grass daily. You should give them grass hay, such as Orchard and Timothy hay that you can purchase from pet stores.
LifespanUsually 8 to 10 years, but can go up to 12. In the wild, their lifespan is up to four years due to how they are hunted by other animals, such as pumas.
SizeThey can become 39 to 51 inches long and 20 inches tall. They weigh around 60 to 174 lbs – females usually weigh a bit more than the males, as Live Science reports.
Price rangeBuying capybaras locally can cost between $400 and $1,100, but if you’re purchasing them from overseas then the price can be around $8,000, as Finance 101 reports.
Where they’re legalTexas and Pennsylvania (you will need licenses in other states)

Capybara Care

capybara loves water

Having a capybara as a pet is exciting, but you have to ensure that you give it the healthiest home possible.

Although you might think you can treat this rodent-like any domesticated pet, this isn’t true right off the bat.

Here are some important things to know about owning a capybara  

You Need To Buy Them In Pairs

You should purchase capybaras in pairs because they are highly social creatures. When they’re alone, they don’t do so well, and human interaction isn’t enough for them.

It’s probably best to buy a male and female capybara instead of two males as they can end up fighting each other.

This is especially the case if their enclosure is small as they will become territorial and aggressive under these conditions.

Fill Their Enclosure With Important Things

water and mud is most important things for capybara enclosure

Capybaras can grow to be quite large, as seen in the above table, so you want to ensure you have adequate space for them.

Aim for an enclosure that’s at least 12 feet by 20 feet in size, but the larger the better. Make sure their enclosure has the following must-have items.

  • A small pool. They love water, so make sure that you have a pool of water on your property, especially because their dry skins require constant hydration.
  • Mud! It’s also a good idea to have some mud on your property for the capybaras to enjoy because they sometimes cover themselves in mud to keep their body temperature at a safe level because they don’t have a lot of sweat glands. Mud also provides a barrier from the sun’s harsh rays that can burn them.
  • Enough daylight. Although their enclosure should have shaded areas so they can gain relief from the sun, capybaras are diurnal. They need about 12 hours of sun a day so if the weather’s overcast or cold, you’ll have to provide them with UVB light, as The Spruce Pets reports.
  • Chewable items. Another important tip for your capybara’s enclosure is to have some low branches for them to chew. This is because capybaras need to chew to prevent their long teeth from becoming too large. When that happens, it can be uncomfortable for them and even result in them starving because they can’t eat! Some tree branches to have in their enclosure include birth and willow, as Mom.com reports. If you don’t have these available, make sure you have piles of hay in the enclosure.

Important note: You might be wondering if you can let your capybara graze outside. This should only be allowed if there are no toxic fertilizers, insecticides, or weeds in the grass that can be harmful to them.

Tips For Feeding Your Capybara

man feeding capybaras with carrots

In the above table, we looked at what a capybara diet should consist of. However, it’s also important to ensure your capybara gets enough Vitamin C to prevent scurvy.

You should do this by purchasing guinea pig pellets that contain this essential vitamin.

How do you know if you’re giving your capybara all the right foods and nutrients?

Keep an eye on their droppings. They should be olive-shaped. If they change to anything else, then you need to take another look at their diet, as The Spruce Pets reports.

What To Know About Their Reproduction

These animals reproduce once annually during the rainy season. Once they are 18 months or so, they become sexually mature.

The male knows when a female is ready to mate by her scent. Interestingly, capybaras breed in the water.

The pregnant female will carry her young for about five months, and usually gives birth to around four or five babies.

Are Males Or Female Capybaras Better To Own?

capybara in zoo

As we mentioned earlier, it’s important to ensure that your capybara has company.

Although they like human company, their ideal situation is to have another capybara around to prevent them from becoming lonely and depressed. In fact, the more the merrier, as they tend to live in groups of up to 20 in the wild.

Since males can be quite aggressive with each other, it’s actually a good idea to buy a male and female or two females. 

Whether you choose male or female capybaras, the most important thing is to be the leader of the pack. Capybaras need someone who will be consistent and firm, as Pet Ponder reports – and this is especially the case with male capybaras as they can strive to be dominant.

That said, you also need to be very loving with your capybaras. They are sensitive creatures and need to feel secure. This means, once you’ve set up their living area, try not to disrupt it unnecessarily.

Treat them gently and with love.

Do Capybaras Like Humans – Or Can They Be Dangerous?

two girls with capybara

Whether they’re loving or dangerous really depends on how you raise them. If you’re gentle with them, capybaras will respond well to contact with you – and yes, you can pet them.

Over time, it’s said that you can even teach them to do certain actions, such as sit. Interestingly, there was a story of a blind man who used a capybara as his guide animal, as Animal World and Snake Farm Zoo reports.

However, one look at their sharp razor-like teeth and you’re likely to worry that your pet capybara could be dangerous.

The important thing is to treat these animals with love and care. Mistreatment, such as in the form of teasing or irritating them can make them become aggressive.

Moms.com also advises that you should always give capybaras enough space so that they don’t feel threatened, and move slowly around them.

This is especially important in the beginning because you want to give them enough time to get used to being around humans.

Can I Own Capybaras In My State?

In Texas and Pennsylvania, owning capybaras is completely legal. In other U.S. states you will need to have a special license for them.

However, there are some states in which there are no laws regarding the owning of exotic animals. These states are Nevada, Wisconsin, Alabama, South Carolina, and North Carolina.

Before going ahead with your plans of buying a capybara, however, always check if it’s legal to own one in your state as the laws can vary quite a bit.

Interesting Facts About Capybaras

capybara befriended cat

Capybaras really are fascinating creatures.

Here are five curiosities about them.

The Eat Their Own Stools

Capybara poop is actually really high in nutrients that capybaras need, so they tend to eat it. This is scientifically known as coprophagia, and it has another benefit.

Since animals cannot digest grass too effectively they eat their faeces to ensure that they derive all the nutrients from it, as The Verge explains.

They Sit Down To Eat

This is something really cute about having a capybara as a pet – they sit on their haunches when they eat, similar to a dog.

On the subject of the capybara diet, the word capybara actually means “one who eats slender leaves” in the Tupi language that’s spoken in Brazil, as Animalia reports.

Capybaras that are kept as pets can sometimes also graze lawns, as CBC Kids reports – that’s how much they love grass!

They Are Highly Vocal

If you like a pet that makes a lot of sounds, the capybara will not disappoint you.

These rodents growl, bark, and make whistle-like and clicking sounds. Their young are said to make guttural purrs on a regular basis.

They Can Stay Underwater For Five Minutes

When a capybara feels threatened by predators, it can submerge itself into the water for five minutes without needing oxygen.

They are also excellent swimmers, and they have webbed feet to ensure this.

They’re Referred To As “Nature’s Ottoman”

capybara and monkeys

In the wild, capybara are sometimes seen with smaller animals, such as rabbits and birds, sitting on top of them.

This has given them the nicknames of “Nature’s Ottoman” or “Living Chairs,” as Mother Nature Network reports. You can see amusing pictures of capybaras being ottomans on a Tumblr blog called Animals Sitting On Capybaras.

In these pics, you can see how the capybaras don’t mind being sat on and they’re quite relaxed, easygoing animals.

Where To Buy Capybaras

If your interest in capybaras has grown after reading up to this point, you’re probably keen to know where you can buy these cute, fascinating pets.

However, a word of caution: don’t just conduct a quick internet search and settle for the first place that is said to sell capybaras because it’s essential to choose reputable capybara breeders.     

Books About Capybaras

If you’re interested in learning more about capybaras, there are some interesting books about them. These include:

  • Capybara: A Natural History Of The World’s Largest Rodent by Rexford D. Lord

This book is the most extensive one on capybaras that you’ll find. It has lots of photos, tables, and valuable information, offering a range of resources to anyone who loves capybaras.

It’s available on Amazon for $19.64 (new) and $14.95 (used).

  • Capybara: A Complete Owner’s Guide by Lolly Brown

This book features all the important info you need if you’re interested in purchasing a Capybara, such as its habitat, diet, breeding, as well as how to look after your rodent pet.

This book is available on Amazon for $12.97.

Capybaras Objects For Sale

You can find tons of interesting and funny items for sale that feature capybaras on them. Here’s a rundown of some of the most notable ones:

Capybara T-Shirts

Amazon offers many t-shirts with pictures of capybaras on them.

One of the best is a grey t-shirt that has the image of a capybara on it along with the words ‘Capybaras are my spirit animal.’ You can also find capybara t-shirts on Redbubble that come in a range of colors and designs.

Capybara Mugs

Start your day with a cup of coffee or tea that reminds you of your favorite rodent. Amazon has a large range of capybara mugs.

One that reads ‘Don’t worry, be capy’ is fun, while another with the words ‘Keep calm and love capybaras’ will make a wonderful gift for a loved one.

Capybara Pillows

capybara plush toy

What could be cuter than a capybara pillow?

Tee Republic has lots of colorful capybara pillows on offer on their website that cater to lots of different decor tastes. You can also find fun capybara pillows on Amazon featuring capybara images that will add some uniqueness to your home design.

Capybara GIFs And Emojis

You can find loads of capybara GIFs online, such as on Giphy and Gfycat. Here, you’ll see some interesting GIFs of capybaras socializing with other animals, such as dogs, and being friendly with humans. 

If you love emojis and capybaras, you’ll probably be interested to know that you can find a range of cute and funny capybara emojis on Line Store.

You will have to pay for them, though, but the cost is only $0.99 per emoji.

Animals Similar To Capybaras

Although capybaras are really unusual and striking, there are other animals that are quite similar to them. Here are four worth considering – be warned, they’re so cool, you might want to adopt them too!

Guinea Pig

The capybara and guinea pig are both rodents that are native to South America.

A capybara can reach over four feet in length and weigh over 100 pounds, while the guinea pig only gets to about 10 inches in length and won’t weigh over 40 ounces.

While capybaras love the water, guinea pigs are not natural swimmers.

Agouti

This rodent originates from Central and South America, and it looks like a large guinea pig.

The agouti tends to hide out in dense bushes, but it’s often seen roaming in wide open spaces. By comparison, capybaras love to spend time in the water.

It’s possible to keep the agouti as a pet, although you’ll have to check if it’s legal in your state.

Beaver

beaver eating cracker

A beaver is a rodent that’s similar to the capybara in a lot of ways.

They both have webbed feet, long teeth, and waterproof fur to protect them against the elements. How they differ is that the capybara is twice as large as the beaver.

Beavers are surprisingly legal to own in states such as North Carolina and Nebraska.

Chinchillas

These cute rodents can be kept as pets, but they’re quite nervous and high-strung, so they’re not good pets to have around children.

If you purchase chinchillas when they are still very young, this will make them grow up around humans and become more friendly towards them, in a similar way to the capybara.

Related Questions

Are capybaras an endangered species?

These animals are not listed as endangered species, but there are many threats to them in the wild.

These include illegal poaching and deforestation.

What are health issues afflicting capybaras?

Like other rodents, the capybara is susceptible to respiratory infections and lice infestations.

By keeping their enclosure hygienic, you can prevent them from getting sick to a large degree. As mentioned earlier, they are also susceptible to scurvy, which can be prevented by giving them Vitamin C.

Should you neuter capybaras?

Two newborn capybaras

Since many male capybaras can become a bit aggressive when their testosterone levels increase as they grow, you might have to neuter them.

This can cost several hundred dollars, but it’s important to have it done by a veterinarian who is experienced with neutering capybaras.

Conclusion

You might’ve heard about capybaras before, and maybe you’re interested in purchasing them.

Before you rush out and buy one, or preferably a pair, make sure you follow the important advice featured in this article so that you can give your capybaras a loving, happy, and healthy home.

We’ve also provided you with places where you can purchase capybaras, as it is important to only use licensed breeders.

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