Keeping a capybara as a pet in your home requires more than just buying the animal and hoping for the best. These large rodents have specific needs when living in captivity, especially since most people can’t provide them with a natural setting akin to their natural habitat in the wild. Capybaras are fairly common as exotic pets, and many people are intrigued by their appearance and interesting habits. However, there are some things you should know before bringing one home as a pet. Read on to learn more about what it means to own a capybara and how to care for one at home.
Things to Know Before Buying a Capybara
Many people are drawn to the idea of keeping a capybara as a pet, but there are a few things to consider before making the decision to buy one. Capybaras are large animals, full-grown adult capybaras can weigh as much as 100 pounds, and they can be several feet long from nose to tail. This means they have specific needs when it comes to housing, diet, and care. Capybaras are also fairly high-maintenance when they are babies. They are also relatively expensive animals to keep. Keep these points in mind before bringing a capybara home. They might not be the right pet choice for you if you don’t think you can provide the proper care and meet their needs.
Should You Keep a Capybara as Pet?
Diet and Nutrition
Capybaras are herbivores that eat almost entirely vegetation. In the wild, they feed primarily on aquatic plants, roots, and grasses. In captivity, they should be given a high fiber and low-protein diet that mimics what they would eat in nature as closely as possible. You should avoid feeding them meat, dairy, and foods that are high in fat. Some foods to feed your capybara include cabbage, kale, carrots, and lettuce. You can also feed them alfalfa hay and grass hay. If your capybara is growing, you can feed them a balanced diet for growing animals that’s high in protein. Be sure to talk to your vet about what diet is best for your capybara and how much to feed them.
Housings and Environment
Capybaras need a large space to live, preferably one that mimics their natural habitat. In the wild, capybaras live in groups in areas that are flooded seasonally, such as swamps and marshes. Captive capybaras should have an enclosure that is large enough for them to move around in and that has water for them to swim in. Keep in mind that capybaras defecate in water and can be prone to swim bladder disease, so it’s important to clean their water often. Your capybara’s enclosure should have plenty of room for its food and water, a shelter for protection in bad weather, and plenty of room for it to move around. The enclosure should be escape-proof and have an opening for you to enter and clean it. It’s also a good idea to have a fence around the bottom of the enclosure to keep your capybara from digging out.
Activities and Exercise
Capybaras are very active animals, and they need plenty of space, enrichment, and exercise to stay healthy and happy. Some ways to keep your capybara entertained are by changing up their environment, providing them with toys, and letting them out for supervised walks on a leash. You can change up the environment in your capybara’s enclosure by adding new toys, moving furniture around, or growing new plants for them to eat. Be careful not to give your capybara anything that could harm them, like broken jars or pieces of metal. Letting your capybara out on a leash is an excellent way to give them exercise and mental stimulation while preventing them from escaping their enclosure. It’s best to start out by walking your capybara during the day when it’s warmer outside, and you can use a harness and leash to keep them safe.
Breeding and Care of Capybara Pups
Capybaras can mate and have babies year-round, and they tend to have large litters of around five pups. Make sure you are prepared to care for the entire litter if your capybara is pregnant. If the pups are born in water and can swim, you don’t need to do anything special. If they are born on land, you will need to help them get back into the water so they can finish developing. Newborn capybaras are called pups, and they are born hairless and blind. Their mothers take care of them for about a month until they are ready to be on their own. During this time, it’s important to keep your capybara’s enclosure clean and safe for the pups.
Capybara - A Complete Owner's Guide - Habitat, Diet, Breeding, Care, And More
How to Choose a Healthy Capybara
When you are shopping for a capybara, it’s important to buy one that is healthy. Here are some things to look for when shopping for a capybara:
Weight - A healthy capybara should have a discernible waist between its stomach and ribs.
Eyes - A healthy capybara’s eyes are bright and clear, and they are not swollen or appear to have any discharge.
Ears - Healthy capybaras have clean, dry ears and no sign of a foul smell coming from them.
Nail length - Healthy capybaras have nails that are the same length or just slightly longer than the ends of their toes.
Healthy capybaras are also curious, active, and interested in their surroundings. If a capybara seems lethargic or uninterested in its surroundings, it could be sick and not a good choice to bring home.
The Bottom Line
Keeping a capybara as a pet is a big commitment, but it can be incredibly rewarding. Before bringing one of these animals home, make sure that you can provide the proper care and that you are prepared for their high-maintenance nature. Capybaras are social animals that need plenty of room, lots of space to move around, lots of enrichment and exercise, and a healthy diet. They are also fairly expensive animals to keep. If you can provide the proper care and meet their needs, owning a capybara can be an exciting experience that you will enjoy for many years to come.