Capybaras as Pets: Prepare Your Home For A Pet Capybara.

All the carpets have been removed as capybaras like to mark their territory, mostly with urine that occasionally with faeces. Most of the furniture have been removed to protect the capybaras.

All the carpets have been removed as capybaras like to mark their territory, mostly with urine but occasionally with faeces. Most of the furniture have been removed to protect the capybaras.

 

 

Romeo and Tuff’n, On the Bed, Happy in Each Other’s Company

 “Mouth Traps”

Accidents in the home and garden (yard) account for a significant proportion of pet capybara deaths. These may be caused by unsecured items, electrical cords or other totally unforeseen accidents involving furniture etc. Your capybara may also be involved in a serious accident by, for example, getting its leg trapped and panicking resulting in a broken leg and a bill for an operation to repair the injury costing $3000.

Poor little Romeo after the Operation for his broken leg  Photo by Elizabeth and Marvin

Poor little Romeo after the Operation for his broken leg
Photo by Elizabeth and Marvin

image (11) shaved bot

Poor little Romeo
Photo by Elizabeth and Marvin

Romeo's Broken Leg

Romeo’s Broken Leg

This happened to one friend who briefly left his capybara unattended in his vehicle outside his house. On being left alone his capybara panicked and jumped at the glass window, not understanding the concept of glass and thinking he could jump out of the vehicle.  He smashed up against the glass and as he  slipped down his leg became trapped in the door handle and the force of his body falling wrenched his little leg backwards and broke it.  Fortunately this friend’s sister-in-law is a vet and he was able to take his capybara immediately around to her clinic, where he was given pain medication and mild sedation and then taken to the best surgeon in town. Without this timely sequence of events this capybara would not have survived.

The furniture in the living room has been removed and replaced with bales of Hay for the capybaras to eat. The carpets have also been removed. Capybaras are wild animals whose behaviour patterns are not suitable for a typical family home.

The furniture in the living room has been removed and replaced with bales of Hay for the capybaras to eat. The carpets have also been removed.
Capybaras are wild animals whose behaviour patterns are not suitable for a typical family home.

 

This photo was taken in March 2013 before the carpets were removed. As the capybaras get older their innate behaviour patterns dictate their need to mark their territory. Mostly this is with urine but occasionally with faeces. Romeo Sleeping on his Cushion in the Living Room

 

All the furniture has been removed from the main living room and replaced by 2 bales of hay, a tub of drinking water and and 2 bowls of guinea pig food. Throughout the house all the Carpets have been removed as capybaras do like to mark their territory, mostly with urine but occasionally with faeces.

All the furniture has been removed from the main living room and replaced by 2 bales of hay, a tub of drinking water and and 2 bowls of guinea pig food. Throughout the house all the Carpets have been removed as capybaras do like to mark their territory, mostly with urine but occasionally with faeces.

Capybaras are naturally curious and like small children often use their mouths to investigate new objects.   With their razor sharp teeth this method of investigation can be potentially dangerous.

1.  Place all electrical cables out of reach of the capybara.   If you need to use some electrical wires at ground level considered putting them inside a protective casing. You could slit open a hose and put the wire inside, as in the photo below.

A hosepipe has been slit along its length, the cable, (electrical wire) has been placed inside.

A hosepipe has been slit along its length, the cable, (electrical wire) has been placed inside.

 

The cable to this computer has been put inside a hose so that inquisitive capybaras can't chew on it.

The cable to this computer has been put inside a hose so that inquisitive capybaras can’t chew on it.

2.  Remove all furniture that a baby capybara could crawl under and hide, and therefore be out of reach and inaccessible. This should include bed supports, chests of drawers, sofas etc. Your capybara may be quite nervous and frightened when it first arrives, and rush to hide somewhere it considers safe, but where it would be completely out of your reach.   Don’t ever pull a capybara by its leg, you could easily break  or dislocate the leg.

3.  Remove all but essential furniture. You can set aside one or more rooms, depending on the size of your home, as rooms that the capybara does not have free access to. You will probably want a ‘computer room’ for example.  You should use ‘child gates’ to secure the entrance, as an alternative to closing the door, so that the capybara does not feel abandoned and excluded from the herd.

4.  Remove all ornaments and clutter that would be within reach of a capybara. Remember a capybara can stand on its hind legs and a full grown capybara will be about 5 feet tall when standing upright. This should be obvious.

5.  No capybara should ever have to sleep alone. In the wild it would never sleep alone and capybaras get very distressed if they are separated from the herd; if your capybara is a house pet then you are the herd. A capybara on its own in the wild would not survive so 30 million years of evolution have conditioned this anxiety response. If you are getting a capybara as a house pet, I believe you must let it sleep with you at night. In the early days it will be too small to jump on your bed, so it would be a good idea to put the mattress on the floor so the baby capybara can come and go at will.

No Capybara Should Ever Have To Sleep Alone. Having An Afternoon Nap at Nagasaki Bio Park Yusu, Zabon, baby Io (background right) and Nina, the ‘babies’ at Nagasaki Bio Park

6.  You will also want to prepare an area for your capybara to use as its toilet. Capybaras are eminently trainable, and are naturally very clean. A large pan with water in it is ideal, as capybaras prefer to defecate in water. They also often like to do their poohs when you are  ‘defecating’, so an ideal location for their “potty pan” is in your bathroom.   Little Tuff’n frequently joined me when I went to the bathroom.   When your baby capybara first arrives it would be a good idea to also have a potty pan in the bedroom for ease of access while you are training it to use the potty pan. Then you can easily get up during the night and take baby capybara over to the potty pan and pre-empt any accidents! Capybaras quickly learn words like “Go Potty”, or “Go to the Potty Room”. While they are poohing and after they have poohed, reinforce their good behaviour by saying “Good Boy, Romeo “, using of course the capybaras name. If you are not, and I hope you are not, using food treats as a reward, your capybara will respond very well indeed to praise. Praise is a far more effective reward tool than food.   It also has the added advantage of strengthening the bond between you and your capybara. (More on potty training in a future blog).

Romeo and Tuff'n in the Bathroom doing their 'Potty' routine! They usually like to go together.

Romeo and Tuff’n in the Bathroom doing their ‘Potty’ routine! They usually like to go together.

Marvin and Elizabeth have removed all cables from their house with the exception of those in the computer room. The computer room has a child gate to prevent the capybaras entering, although a baby capybara would be able to squeeze through the bars. The solution to this is to put a thick towel over the child gate so the baby capybara cannot see the bars and therefore does not try to enter the room.   They have also removed all non-essential furniture.

I would recommend keeping a supply of Bene-bac in your refrigerator. It is not expensive and it is not a medicine, but is designed to augment the friendly bacteria in an animal’s gut, and is akin to the Activa probiotic yoghurt that humans eat.   Marvin and Elizabeth believe this product is a lifesaver, and could have saved the life of Templeton, their first capybara.  Time could be of the essence which is why it is recommend to keep a supply on hand.  (Available from Petco)  They use it whenever the poohs indicate that something may be wrong, such as if the capybara becomes constipated or the poohs become soft.  “Bene-Bac Small Animal Powder is a concentrated live culture of four common digestive bacteria found in the intestinal tracts of mammals. Bene-Bac is recommended any time an animal experiences stress from changing nutritional or environmental conditions. Contains 20 million CFU per gram of viable lactic acid producing bacteria. Powder formula is easy to mix with water.”

http://www.petco.com/product/106421/PetAg-Bene-Bac-Small-Animal-Powder.aspx

Little Tuff’n Sleeping on His Bed of Hay

Even with all these changes to their home to ensure a capybara friendly environment for their new family member, an unforeseen disaster can still occur.

On my last day with Romeo and Tuff’n we were all harnessed and ready to go out grazing when the Jehovah’s Witnesses arrived! They were very nice people but stayed a very long time. Romeo began to get a bit bored as he had no interest in converting to this strange human religion. He started sniffing around and somehow got his upper incisors trapped under the metal plate securing the carpet where it bordered the tiled area at the entrance to the front door. He was trapped with his nose pressing against the floor. Fortunately Marvin was there and able to move Romeo’s head and release him. All he suffered was a slightly chipped tooth. He went off to the other side of the living room and spent a few minutes feeling for the damage and recovering, with all of us petting and trying to reassure him.

The good news was  “Romeo’s tooth grew back in 10 days. He has his perfect smile back”.

Romeo's Chipped Tooth

Romeo’s Chipped Tooth

If Marvin had not been there I hate to think what would have happened. Putting myself in Romeo’s position I would have been absolutely terrified and completely panicked finding myself trapped with my nose pushed against the floor and possibly having trouble breathing. At best Romeo might have had the strength to pull the metal plate upwards and release his teeth, but at what injury to his mouth and teeth?   At worst he would have been trapped there for some time in a state of extreme stress, fear and panic.   Animals can die of stress.

All this happened in a house in which a great deal of time and thought had been given to ensuring that there was nothing that could cause injury to a capybara.

The moral is “NEVER LEAVE A CAPYBARA ON ITS OWN”. If you can’t be with it 24 hours a day, please choose another animal.

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

//

About these ads

5 thoughts on “Capybaras as Pets: Prepare Your Home For A Pet Capybara.

  1. I’m Gari’s friend. Quick question – where do they swim? Dobby and Gari swim in their own pool (lucky!). Is that important?

    • Romeo and Tuff’n have their own pool which is much larger than Gari’s. Yes it is very important that capybaras have somewhere to swim. Some people just use a cattle tank which I think is what Dobby temporarily has, I personally don’t consider this big enough.

      This is a video we made of Romeo swimming: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=slUBooqIy0Q

      Marvin and Elizabeth are breaking new ground in terms of developing a relationship with their capybaras, understanding them, and putting them at the centre of their lives, compared with other capybaras I know. They are easily the happiest capybaras I’ve encountered. The happiness of their capybaras comes first.

    • I did reply to this a long time ago but it seems not to have appeared. I think it is very important for a capybara to have somewhere large enough to swim. Romeo and Tuff’n have a large pool, and I was swimming with them yesterday!

  2. Pingback: Q&A: What states allow Capybaras as pets? |PetsandCares.com

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s