Capybara Diet. Includes Treatments For Dietary Health Issues. 水豚飲食. カピバラダイエット

The correct diet is very important for the health, welfare and longevity of a capybara.

Includes details of Critical Care Formula for capybaras, Probiotic treatments for capybaras and details of Milk Formula specifically formulated for baby capybaras

The capybara digestive system evolved over 30 million years to take advantage of a diet that was high in fibre and low in calories. If you want your capybara to live a long and healthy life you should try to replicate this diet as closely as possible.

Sugar and Stress are two of the most potentially life-threatening causal factors a pet capybara can encounter. Capybaras should not be given anything with sugar in it like candy, ice cream, sweetened yoghurt, ice lollies etc. Neither should they be given junk food. This seems like common sense but it is surprising how many people, out of ignorance, will feed their pets whatever junk food they are eating. In addition, Exotic Animal Vets warn about the potential harm in feeding the naturally occuring ‘sugar’ in sweet vegetables and fruit, specifically mentioning sweetcorn because of the high sugar content, so you can imagine how disastrous any food with added sugar would be.

A leading breeder of wild animals, Kapi’yva Exotics, posts this information on their website: “I DO NOT recommend feeding fruits, vegetables or other items containing large amounts of sugar on a daily basis. There is some evidence that diets containing large amounts of sugar, even from healthy sources, can cause liver and heart problems.” Kapi’yva Exotics no longer sells capybaras as pets because too many pet capybaras suffer, they only sell to zoos.

Animals do not have the same tolerance for unnatural feed that humans have. This is especially true in the case of a capybara, whose digestive system is exceptionally sensitive, and has been described by at least one expert as the ‘weak link’ in terms of capybara health. I know of several capybaras who died prematurely, in one case after only a few months, because of diet.

This is the perfect enclosure for a capybara: lots of grass and a large pond. Photo by Martin MurmelTier Hees

The healthiest pet capybaras that I have met are fed a diet of fresh untreated grass, hay (Orchard Hay and Timothy Hay), palm fronds to chew on and guinea pig feed.

Put simply:  DO NOT FEED YOUR CAPYBARA ANYTHING WITH ADDED SUGAR AND ABSOLUTELY NO CANDY or  JUNK FOOD; or  SWEET FRUIT or Bird seed. In the Tropics; capybaras spend 31% of their time grazing during the wet season; and 42% in the dry season.

The olive shaped, green, separated droppings  are a sign of a healthy capybara in the wild.  Softer, sausage shaped faeces may indicate that the capybara is being fed the wrong diet. Fruit, carrots, sweet corn etc may be responsible.

Please also see this blog for information about plants, chemicals and other potentially lethal dangers that capybaras may encounter:


https://capybaraworld.wordpress.com/2014/06/29/capybaras-beware-of-toxic-plants-chemicals-and-poisonous-animals-like-scorpions-and-snakes-humans-remove-these-from-your-land-garden-and-yard-%e3%82%ab%e3%83%94%e3%83%90%e3%83%a9%e3%81%ab/

Keep some hay or a bale of hay in the living room so your capybara always has something to eat and chew on. Capybaras have evolved to spend at least 31% of their day chewing (on high fibre, coarse food like grasses) in order to keep their teeth healthy. Hay adds a beautiful aroma to the smell of a living room.

Romeo never chews on furnishings or plastic because he always has hay to eat in the house

Romeo Never Chews Pillowcases or Plastic, if he wants something to chew on he goes to his Bale of Hay in the living room

HEALTHY TEETH:  To avoid your pet capybara ending up with very painful, life threatening (not to mention expensive) tooth problems, it is essential to include a lot of coarse grazing in a capybara diet.  Unlimited Fresh grass should be a staple part of every capybara diet.  Hay that is of lower nutrition is more suitable for a capybara’s digestive system and means they will eat more, which equates to more fiber and more tooth wear. The coarseness of the hay keeps their teeth ground down and healthy. This need to keep their teeth healthy should never, ever be underestimated. It is very important for capybara teeth to be kept in check, as the teeth would be in the wild grazing on coarse grasses. I have seen capybaras chewing on twigs, bark and stones as a method of self-help dentistry. Capybaras may grind their teeth when they sleep, which also helps keep their teeth in check.

The Hay and Guinea pig feed should be available 24/7.

Capybaras I know have some Orchard/Timothy hay mix in the living room. Whenever the capybaras want to chew on something, or they feel hungry, they go to the hay (or guinea pig feed). This means they do not chew pillowcases, plastic, comforters or any other inappropriate items of furniture. Swallowing plastic is potentially very dangerous.

The best treatment for diarrhoea is a probiotic. In America this probiotic is called Benebac. In Japan, zoos use a probiotic called Bio 3. This probiotic could be a lifesaver.

Bene-bac

Many people with capybaras and guinea pigs believe the probiotic ‘Bene-bac’ is a lifesaver. Some friends use it whenever the capybara’s poos become softer and sausage shaped, rather than the encapsulated, olive shaped faeces which capybaras living in their natural habitat pass. 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.   It comes in 4 different types – the Bene-bac designed for guinea pigs is the correct one to use.

Constipation: Bene-bac can also be used to treat constipation. It is important to ensure your capybara drinks enough water and has access to fresh water to drink 24 hours a day. A healthy diet of unrestricted access to fresh grass should ensure a capybara does not become constipated. Chewing coarse grasses is essential for the health of capybara teeth. You should always consult your vet as soon as you become concerned.

Bene-bac Product Information

Bene-Bac® Plus Small Animal Powder is recommended any time an animal experiences changing nutritional or environmental conditions.

  • Contains seven fat-encapsulated, common microorganisms found in intestinal tract of small mammals
  • Provides help for changing conditions, including, but not limited to birth, breeding, post-surgery, antibiotic therapy, weaning, worming, showing, boarding and travel
  • Guaranteed 20 million colony-forming units (CFU) of viable bacteria per gram
  • Recommended as part of the management program for all animals subjected to adverse conditions
  • May be used for regular maintenance

https://www.petag.com/products/bene-bac-plus-small-animal-powder

Critical Care Formula for Capybaras. Capybara Health Care. This Formula Could Save the Life of Your Capybara.

If you have a capybara who is not eating properly, or becoming very thin, this nutritional formula made by Oxbow, Critical Care for Herbivores, is recommended by a vet who specialises in treating capybaras. Your capybara may have tooth problems (which will need to be attended to) which makes chewing painful, or he might have an illness, or be recovering from surgery. This product has everything a capybara needs for optimum nutrition and health and recovery.

Remember that if your capybara has not been eating very much, his stomach will have shrunk. This means he will only be able to eat small quantities of food at any one time. You will need to keep offering him this formula, in small quantities, throughout the day to ensure he gets adequate nutrition.

Critical Care for Herbivores is a high protein, high energy, high fibre, easily digested powdered formula, with all the essential vitamins and minerals.. It is designed to be palatable so that your capybara enjoys it and wants to eat. It contains high-fibre Timothy hay to support proper gut physiology and digestion. It comes as a powder to be mixed with liquid.

A Critical Care Formula in the form of a crunchy “biscuit”, is also available, and chewing it will be good for your capybara’s teeth.

For more information please see the link below:

            Excessive mucus in faeces may be a sign of a bacterial infection, a blockage or tumours. The gut and intestines rely on a certain amount of mucus to function normally. Excessive amounts of mucus could indicate a blockage. This could be caused by anything from a foreign body to a bad diet with not enough roughage to keep the tract moving. Dehydration and constipation can also cause an increase in mucus. You should definitely consult your vet.

A constant intake of high fibre, low calorie grazing, grass or hay, is essential to keep the capybara’s intestinal tracts from slowing and going into stasis. Fruit might cause fermentation in the gut which can lead to bloat. In guinea pigs this is a big killer and often very hard to reverse. Fluids, fibre and lots of grass can be used to treat this.

A leading rodentologist in Britain recommends a sheep wormer, or genetically similar product, be used on guinea pigs and grazing animals for digestive health.

The U.S. Navy, the US Police Force and the best animal trainers do not use food as a reward. In the words of one US naval dog trainer “food complicates training”. Capybaras are highly intelligent. In the opinion of many capybara owners they are at least as intelligent as the most intelligent dogs. They are also highly sophisticated emotionally; i.e. they have high emotional intelligence. They respond very well to praise, and are very sensitive to the tone of voice, with a surprisingly large vocabulary. Instead of using food as a reward, use praise, such as “Good Boy together with the capybaras name”. The capybara will swell up with pride. This is far more rewarding to him than a sweet toxic food treat.

A new study suggests that most dogs respond more positively to praise than to food.

http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/08/dogs-would-rather-get-belly-rub-treat?utm_source=newsfromscience&utm_medium=facebook-text&utm_campaign=wantatreat-6517

One danger with giving capybaras inappropriate food treats is that they may soon only do what you want in return for a treat. If it is a high energy treat they may no longer eat the copious amounts of grass and hay that they need to maintain a healthy digestive system.

Capybaras are highly emotional animals and do not react well to stress, which can lead to digestive problems. In the wild capybaras have the support of the herd, and close proximity to other herd members, for their emotional well-being. I have never met a pet capybara who is bonded with humans who did not suffer. Every time the human, with whom the pet is bonded, leaves the home the capybara suffers acute separation anxiety. This is something I have witnessed many times and it is absolutely heartbreaking. The light goes out in the capybara’s eyes as the human he loves disappears out of view. The capybara will sit for a long time facing in the direction his loved one departed in. The capybara may sit by the entrance gate or front door waiting for his beloved human to return, and call and call.

A capybara bonded with a human will view this human as a herd member. This reaction to separation and the disappearance of a herd member probably reflects 30 million years of evolution wherein a lone capybara, abandoned by the herd or separated from it, would have little chance of survival.   If you are going to live with a pet capybara it would be kinder to let the capybara bond with another animal who will remain at home all day with the capybara, rather than have him/her bond with you and suffer everytime you have to go out (to work, shopping etc).  A Mara or a calm dog such as a labrador or border collie might be the ideal companion.

Milk Formula For Baby Capybaras: Wombaroo Capybara Milk Replacer

This is the only milk formula specifically formulated for baby capybaras. It has a higher protein content and fat content than other milk formulas for most other species. It comes from Australia.

https://wombaroo.com/shop/ols/products/wombaroo-capybara-milk-replacer-2kg

DIRECTIONS FOR USE: To make 1 litre of milk mix 190g of powder with 870ml of preboiled warm water. Add about half of the water first, mix to a paste then make up to 1 litre with remaining water and mix thoroughly. An electric whisk can be used for mixing.

Feed Impact Colostrum Supplement to new-borns who did not receivesufficient maternalcolostrum.

GROWTH & DEVELOPMENT of capybara pups: Typical birth weight is 1.5 – 2.0 kg. Average daily weight gain is about 50-100g per day until weaning at 3 months (approx. 8kg body weight)3.

(for further information about Wombaroo Baby Capybara Milk Replacer, see the end of this blog)

Rodents are addicted to sugar and sweet foods (more so than cocaine!). This is another reason I would be very careful about introducing anything sweet into a capybara’s diet as this can lead to the capybara becoming curious about other unhealthy foods which he/she had never shown any interest in before.

This is the information Kapi’yva Exotics, a leading breeder of exotic animals, provides for capybara diet on its website:

“Capybaras are true herbivores, their diet in the wild consists almost exclusively of various grasses. In captivity, their diet should consist primarily of guinea pig or livestock feed and plenty of fresh grass or hay. Capybaras do not naturally produce adequate amounts of vitamin C and they can develop scurvy as a result of vitamin C deficiencies. In the wild the large amounts of fresh grass they consume provides the extra vitamin C they need. In captivity, their diet must contain either plenty of fresh grass for grazing or a vitamin C supplement. Most commercial guinea pig diets will contain a vitamin C supplement but these can be very costly if you are feeding multiple adult capybaras. Mazuri and LabDiet guinea pig formulas are available in 25lb and 50lb bags and can be found at, or specially ordered at most feed stores. A much cheaper alternative is livestock or rabbit feed. If used as a staple diet extra vitamin C should be added. The easiest method I’ve found of doing this is to dust or mix their feed with ascorbic acid powder.

I DO NOT recommend feeding fruits, vegetables or other items containing large amounts of sugar on a daily basis. There is some evidence that diets containing large amounts of sugar, even from healthy sources, can cause liver and heart problems.

They have evolved as grazers, feeding primarily grass/hay and guinea pig feed is the best way to mimic their natural diet.”

Some people give horse feed instead of guinea pig pellets primarily for reasons of cost. It is important to read the ingredients of any formula feed as this will dictate your choice.   As horses are considered more valuable than cattle, horse feed is likely to be made of more high-quality ingredients.”

Below I include some information on what not to feed and why. The information comes from exotic pet vets and experienced capybara owners who have done a great deal of research.

Grazing on Unknown Grass: One capybara owner wrote: “We are very cautious about feeding unknown grass. Our rule of thumb, is that if it’s long and neglected, we’ll try it. If it looks too well taken care of, we fear poisons and leave it. It is more likely that fertilisers and weedkillers will be applied to well cared for grass. You also have to always check grass for toxic weeds. We have nightshade in this area. I don’t even know if they would actually eat it, but I’m very cautious.  Water effects fertilizers, but that would not be my main concern. I worry about insecticides and herbicides, which are usually designed to have residual effects that erode over time, not by water.”

Alfalfa:  An exotic pet vet at a leading university veterinary school is quoted as saying ” Absolutely no alfalfa, it is too rich.”  It may also be too high in calcium.

Calcium:  “There may be a concern about too much calcium for rodents and animals who extract extra nutrients through hindgut fermentation, this includes capybaras. There may be a risk of bladder stones or grit from excess calcium. Here’s a hay chart on calcium levels: http://www.guinealynx.info/hay_calcium.html “.

Vegetables:  The Capybaras at Nagasaki Bio Park, some of whom lived to a ripe old age, at least 13 years, were fed vegetables in season. When I was there it was cabbage, carrots and pumpkin. The capybaras at the Bio Park who eat the most carrots do not produce healthy olive shaped faeces. The faeces associated with parents is soft, barely even sausage shaped.   One capybara owner had this to say about carrots: “I have read online that the sugar level in carrots is on a par with apples and that because of the fat soluble vitamin A, if fed too much (or in a combination with other sources like alfalfa) the vitamin A can build up to toxic levels. She feeds one carrot a day.”

Sweetcorn: every Exotic Pet Vet with experience of capybaras was unanimous in saying you should not feed sweetcorn to capybaras. It is far too sweet.

I would remove all seeds and berries from my garden/yard as soon as they fall from trees.

Below is some information taken from research done on capybaras in the wild in South America:

This excellent book, see link below, is a collection of research papers on capybara, unfortunately finance for research comes from the agricultural industry so that is the primary focus of the research, but there is still a lot of very useful information:

http://www.springer.com/life+sciences/ecology/book/978-1-4614-3999-8

The capybara, Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris, is a herbivorous semi aquatic mammal that grazes near water. A number of physiological and morphological adaptations of the capybaras digestive system allowed this species to meet its energy requirements from a diet with a high fibre and low nutritional content and silica deposits.

These highly fibrous diet components are extremely difficult to digest, therefore herbivores possess specific adaptations for the digestion of these materials. The best known and most common adaptation to a high fibre diet among mammals is fermentation by symbionts (by bacteria and fungi and protozoa), coupled with mechanisms for the digestion and absorption of the products of fermentation. Among mammals there are two distinct types of symbiotic digestion where fermentation occurs. 1) foregut fermentation, as found in cows, and 2) hindgut fermentation as found in rodents.

Hindgut fermenters use the cecum, located between the small and large intestines, as a fermentation chamber, which precludes regurgitation and re-swallowing the fermented plants as a strategy for the absorption of nutrients. In the case of the capybara the process of cecotrophy allows a daily cycle of feeding and reingestion: food goes once along the digestive tract, entering the cecum where it is fermented and then excreted. These excreted products are taken directly from the anus by the herbivore and they pass one more time through the entire digestive tract.  The waste products bypass the cecum and move onto the large intestine, where hard dry faeces are excreted (but not reabsorbed this time). The two processes occur within a 24 hour cycle. It has been argued that, since hindgut fermenters can take advantage of any available directly digestible (i.e. non-fibre) nutrients before the bacterial fermentation takes place, they are more efficient at extracting nutrients from food than foregut fermenters.

The capybara diet, in the wild, consists mainly of grasses, aquatic grasses with varying a portion of sedges and just a few other plants. Capybaras gnaw on the bark of bushes and trees. Bark is nutritious and keeps their teeth healthy and in check.

During the wet season when plants are more abundant, capybaras are more selective and spend more time grazing on Hymenachne amplexicaulis, an aquatic grass of high caloric and low fibre content, then on less palatable reeds.

Capybaras are considered predominately diurnal, however groups have been observed grazing during the night.

In the tropics, capybaras spend 31% of their time grazing during the wet season, and 42% in the dry season.

The 3 products below could be life-saving for your capybara:

1. Critical Care Formula for Capybaras. Capybara Health Care. This Formula Could Save the Life of Your Capybara.

If you have a capybara who is not eating properly, or becoming very thin, this nutritional formula made by Oxbow, Critical Care for Herbivores, is recommended by a vet who specialises in treating capybaras. Your capybara may have tooth problems (which will need to be attended to) which makes chewing painful, or he might have an illness, or be recovering from surgery. This product has everything a capybara needs for optimum nutrition and health and recovery.

Remember that if your capybara has not been eating very much, his stomach will have shrunk. This means he will only be able to eat small quantities of food at any one time. You will need to keep offering him this formula, in small quantities, throughout the day to ensure he gets adequate nutrition.

Critical Care for Herbivores is a high protein, high energy, high fibre, easily digested powdered formula, with all the essential vitamins and minerals.. It is designed to be palatable so that your capybara enjoys it and wants to eat. It contains high-fibre Timothy hay to support proper gut physiology and digestion. It comes as a powder to be mixed with liquid.

A Critical Care Formula in the form of a crunchy “biscuit”, is also available, and chewing it will be good for your capybara’s teeth.

For more information please see the link below:

2. Bene-bac

Many people with capybaras and guinea pigs believe the probiotic ‘Bene-bac’ is a lifesaver. Some friends use it whenever the capybara’s poos become softer and sausage shaped, rather than the encapsulated, olive shaped faeces which capybaras living in their natural habitat pass. 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.   It comes in 4 different types – the Bene-bac designed for rabbits is the correct one to use.

Constipation: Bene-bac can also be used to treat constipation. It is important to ensure your capybara drinks enough water and has access to fresh water to drink 24 hours a day. A healthy diet of unrestricted access to fresh grass should ensure a capybara does not become constipated. Chewing coarse grasses is essential for the health of capybara teeth.

Product Information

Bene-Bac® Plus Small Animal Powder is recommended any time an animal experiences changing nutritional or environmental conditions.

  • Contains seven fat-encapsulated, common microorganisms found in intestinal tract of small mammals
  • Provides help for changing conditions, including, but not limited to birth, breeding, post-surgery, antibiotic therapy, weaning, worming, showing, boarding and travel
  • Guaranteed 20 million colony-forming units (CFU) of viable bacteria per gram
  • Recommended as part of the management program for all animals subjected to adverse conditions
  • May be used for regular maintenance

https://www.petag.com/products/bene-bac-plus-small-animal-powder

3. Milk Formula For Baby Capybaras:

This is the only milk formula specifically formulated for baby capybaras. It has a higher protein content and fat content than other milk formulas for most other species. It comes from Australia.

https://wombaroo.com/shop/ols/products/wombaroo-capybara-milk-replacer-2kg

Wombaroo Capybara Milk Replacer

DIRECTIONS FOR USE: To make 1 litre of milk mix 190g of powder with 870ml of preboiled warm water. Add about half of the water first, mix to a paste then make up to 1 litre with remaining water and mix thoroughly. An electric whisk can be used for mixing.

Feed Impact Colostrum Supplement to new-borns who did not receive sufficient maternal colostrum.

GROWTH & DEVELOPMENT: Typical birth weight is 1.5 – 2.0 kg. Average daily weight gain is about 50-100g per day until weaning at 3 months (approx. 8kg body weight)3 .

Analysis

  • Protein 42%
  • Fat 24%
  • Carbohydrate 22%
  • Ash 6%
  • Moisture 4%
  • Metabolisable Energy (ME) 20MJ/kg

©Wombaroo Food Products, Dec 2017. 10 Oborn Rd, Mt Barker SA 5251 http://www.wombaroo.com.au

CAPYBARA MILK REPLACER 1,2,3

TYPICAL ANALYSIS (Powder)

INGREDIENTS: Whole milk solids, whey protein, casein, vegetable oils, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, stabilised vitamin C, vitamins and minerals.

TYPICAL COMPOSITION PER LITRE OF PREPARED MILK Protein83gVitamin E14mgFolic Acid1.0mgSodium500mg
Fat49gVitamin K1.0mgVitamin B1219μgMagnesium80mg
-Omega 31.4gVitamin C520mgBiotin80μgZinc5.1mg
-Omega 63.4gThiamine7.1mgCholine130mgIron5.5mg
Carbohydrate42gRiboflavin1.9mgInositol100mgManganese3.1mg
Energy (ME)3.9MJNiacin29mgCalcium2.2gCopper0.8mg
Vitamin A470μgPantothenic Acid11mgPhosphorus1.6gIodine100μg
Vitamin D34.6mgPyridoxine2.4mgPotassium1400mgSelenium25μg
TYPICAL ANALYSIS (Powder) Protein42%
Fat24%
Carbohydrate22%
Ash6%
Moisture4%
Energy (ME)20 MJ/kg

https://wombaroo.com/shop/ols/products/wombaroo-capybara-milk-replacer-2kg

Bene-bac

Many people with capybaras and guinea pigs believe the probiotic ‘Bene-bac’ is a lifesaver. Some friends use it whenever the capybara’s poos become softer and sausage shaped, rather than the encapsulated, olive shaped faeces which capybaras living in their natural habitat pass. 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.   It comes in 4 different types – the Bene-bac designed for rabbits is the correct one to use.

Constipation: Bene-bac can also be used to treat constipation. It is important to ensure your capybara drinks enough water and has access to fresh water to drink 24 hours a day. A healthy diet of unrestricted access to fresh grass should ensure a capybara does not become constipated. Chewing coarse grasses is essential for the health of capybara teeth.

Product Information

Bene-Bac® Plus Small Animal Powder is recommended any time an animal experiences changing nutritional or environmental conditions.

  • Contains seven fat-encapsulated, common microorganisms found in intestinal tract of small mammals
  • Provides help for changing conditions, including, but not limited to birth, breeding, post-surgery, antibiotic therapy, weaning, worming, showing, boarding and travel
  • Guaranteed 20 million colony-forming units (CFU) of viable bacteria per gram
  • Recommended as part of the management program for all animals subjected to adverse conditions
  • May be used for regular maintenance

https://www.petag.com/products/bene-bac-plus-small-animal-powder

Essential Information If You Already Have a Capybara, Or Are Thinking of Getting a Capybara

These are blogs you might find useful if you are thinking of getting a pet capybara and you want your capybara to live a happy and healthy and long life:

A Pet Capybara Should I Have One:

Momiji and Donut

Pet Capybara FAQs: The Questions People Always Ask

Capybara Diet. Includes Treatments for Dietary Health Issues.

What Should I Feed My Pet Capybara? The Capybara Diet

Pet Capybara Pool Size. What Size Pool Does My Capybara Need?

Capybaras Beware of Toxic Plants, Chemicals and Poisonous Animals Like Scorpions and Snakes. Humans Remove These from Your Land, Garden and Yard.

Capybara Health Warning: It Will Be Potentially Dangerous To Let Your Capybara Swim in a Chlorinated Swimming Pool Designed and Intended for Human Use

Protect Your Capybaras and Guinea Pigs from Power Cords and Electric Cables

Critical Care Formula for Capybaras. Capybara Health Care. This Formula Could Save the Life of Your Capybara.

The Sounds Capybaras Make. Capybaras’ Vocalisations, Calls and Barks 水豚發出的聲音。 水豚的發聲、叫聲和吠叫 サウンドは、カピバラメイク。カピバラ発声、呼び出し、樹皮

You can hear all these magical capybara sounds if you click on the videos in this blog 請觀看視頻以聆聽神奇的水豚發聲 魔法のカピバラの発声を聞くためにビデオを見てください

The Sounds Capybaras Make. Capybaras’ Vocalisations, Calls and Barks サウンドは、カピバラメイク。カピバラ発声、呼び出し、樹皮

Capybaras are a very vocal species and vocal communication is very important to them in terms of regulating social encounters and alerting other members of their herd to what is happening in their environment such as the presence of predators or babies becoming isolated from the herd.

Capybaras are very gregarious and frequently vocalize. Some of their vocalisations are outside the range of human hearing at ultrasonic or infrasonic levels. Capybaras also communicate through body language and smell. Capybaras have very high olfactory and emotional intelligence.

Hinase Momiji 在長崎生物公園的等級中排名第一和第二。 他們是最好的朋友,一起玩耍,一起睡覺,互相跟隨。 紅葉通常領先,但在食物方面,日瀨總是獲勝。 在這段視頻中,他們互相呼喚,似乎在說來和我一起在池塘里玩吧

ヒナセとモミジは親友です。長崎バイオパークヒエラルキーで1位と2位.  Hinase, number 1 in the herd hierarchy, and Momiji, number 2 in the herd hierarchy, are the best of friends. They play together in the pond every day for several hours, guard the entrance to the Onsen in winter and sometimes they won’t allow any other capybara to enter the Onsen. They often call each other, often a strident “come here” vocalisation, especially when one of them is in the pond and wants the other to join her. On hearing the “come here” call the other capybara will usually swim over, but not always. Momiji is a very intense capybara and her call sounds particularly urgent and strident. Momiji usually leads when they go off together, and takes much more interest in herd activities. Where food is concerned Hinase always wins. Hinase can be a bit of a bully and when they are playing in the pond she usually rides on Momiji and sometimes becomes aggressive, at which Momiji swims away quickly but soon returns so she must know Hinase’s aggression will be short lived. Hinase gets very frustrated because despite being number 1 in the hierarchy she is not allowed to mate with Kona, the breeding male, who is in a separate enclosure. Aoba, Momiji’s daughter, should be the next female capybara to mate but the current chief capybara keeper has no understanding of capybara behaviour or capybara husbandry and chooses the female capybaras who will allow her to “interfere” with the pups as soon as they are born.

NWN Cookie 21 Dec 2016 024

Cookie

Capybaras make the most beautiful sounds and vocalisations. When they are happy, or pleased to see you, they make a soft, chuckling sound known in academic circles as “click call”.

A Capybara chorus, when a number of capybaras sing in unison, is truly magical.

In the video below you can hear a herd of female capybaras singing in unison. Capybaras make the most beautiful vocalisations when the females sing to the males and the males sing to the females. In this video the female capybaras set off en masse to visit Toku, the male capybara. This procession may start when a very high ranking female capybara, it used to be Donguri, sets off towards Toku’s enclosure. She will sometimes bark to announce her departure and she very often makes a deep, gruff call. Toku also often sings when they arrive. When they arrive at Toku’s enclosure some of the capybaras rub their morillos on the fence of his enclosure or on the rope barrier just before the entrance to his enclosure. This morillo rubbing is usually done by the most senior capybaras in the hierarchy, Donguri, Hinase, Maple, Momiji and Zabon, although Ryoko, Aoba and some of the younger ones also rub their morillos.

This is the sound of a very happy capybara: Tuff’n is one of the most vocal capybaras I have met. When he was a young pup Tuff’n sometimes vocalised for much of the day; a juvenile i.e., very young capybara does this vocalisation to keep in touch with his herd and to let the herd know where he is.  Tuff’s herd was Romeo.  Now that he is an adult Tuff’n only “sings” for specific reasons, for example, in anticipation of being petted or being given food, making his ‘happy sound’ (click call) as he wanders round the house, or when he is eating or even when he “poohs”! Tuff’n is a hedonist and loves to be pampered or to laze all day in the sun. He has a very loud voice as well, even though, in this video, he is still just a 2-month-old baby. Sometimes his happy call is interspersed with a shrill call, as in this video. Tuff’n is bonded to Romeo, whereas Romeo is bonded to the humans he lives with. Tuff’n becomes very anxious if he doesn’t know where Romeo is. Romeo becomes very anxious if his humans leave the home.

2. The sound of a whole herd of capybaras singing in unison is truly magical. Here you can hear the herd singing loudly in the background as you watch young Yuzu slipping about as she tries to scratch herself on a slippery, mossy ledge in the pond.カピバラの群れの曲の全体的な音が一斉に素晴らしい、本当に魔法です。ここでは、滑り若いゆずを見ることができます。彼女は苔むした、滑りやすい棚の上に自分自身を傷つけしようとします。池の中

Here is another video of fifteen Capybaras singing in unison. Everything comes alive with the magical sound of Capybaras. This chorus goes on for up to half an hour or longer. Some afternoons we were treated to this chorus on at least two or three occasions over the course of the afternoon, other afternoons no chorus at all. After watermelon time, one or two capybaras make their escape to the freedom of the pond, while the others remain in the petting area. Then the chorus starts as the capybaras begin to think about moving en masse into the water. After about 10 minutes the exodus begins. The four youngest tend to be reluctant to leave since they get the most pampering and feeding, and they know that if they stay behind every visitor who comes into their enclosure will buy some bamboo or at least one container of ‘Capybara’ pellets to feed them.

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最大限に音を上げてください Please turn sound up to maximum
斉に歌っている15頭のカピバラたち、これほど不思議な光景はありません。すべては、カピバラたちの不思議な音声で盛り上がっています。 このコーラス(合唱)は、少なくとも30分に及んでいます。

3. The sound a capybara mother makes as her babies suckle is truly magical. She goes into a trancelike state, her eyes glaze over and she starts to “sing”. She relaxes and seems to be very happy. Based on my observations it seems to me the sensation of the babies suckling at her teats maybe a very pleasurable one for a mother capybara.

4. This is the joyful sound of capybaras romancing: Female capybaras rub and nibble the male capybara and vocalise:

5 At the start of this video Kaede, a female capybara, emits a series of calls. Kaede frequently escapes from the enclosure, but unlike the other capybaras who like to escape, she doesn’t always go to the lush green grass near the enclosure. She often goes to visit Ran, a male capybara all alone in a tiny pen nearby. She sits against the wall of his pen and he comes over to be as close to her as possible on the other side of the wall. They cannot see each other because of the solid wall. Kaede is low down in the female hierarchy so perhaps she sees her chances of mating with the very desirable Yasushi as slender and is setting her sights on Ran instead.

The capybaras sitting by the gate in the video are all hoping to escape. It tends to be the same capybaras all the time who like to escape. Yasushi is the magnificent long-haired male in this video, showing an interest in some of the females; you will notice that the females are also showing an interest in Yasushi by sniffing his rear end and his testicles. He is always the centre of attention for the female capybaras at Nagasaki Bio Park.

“ビデオの始まりはカエデから(2008年9月10日に生まれた雌のカピバラ)は一連の囁きを発します。私は彼女が何を言ったのか、囁いたのか、知っていいればと思います。カエデは、一番の脱出の名人。(カピバラのエリアから)しかし、逃げるのを好む他のカピバラとは異なり、彼女は構内の近くの青々とした緑の芝生に必ずしも行きません。 彼女はランを訪ねにしばしば行きます。そして、オスのカピバラの近くで小さな囲いの中で一人きりで居ます。彼女はオスのカピバラの反対側に座ります。そしてオスは、出来るだけ親しくしようと近寄ってきます。カエデは、女性のカピバラ階級の中では下位にいます。おそらく彼女はヤスシと結婚する可能性を感じいますが、、ランにも興味を持たせるようにしています。ランはたぶん生物学的にみると、将来パークのカピバラのボスになる存在でしょう。                                                                                        ビデオの中で門のそばに座っているカピバラのすべては、逃げることを望んでいます。 誰が逃げるのが好きかは、常に同じカピバラである傾向があります。 ヤスシはこのビデオの中の素晴らしい長髪のカピバラです。そして、女性の何人かに対する関心を示します。あなたは、女性が彼の後部と彼のピンク色の大事なところ(男性自身)のにおいを嗅ぐことによってヤスシに対する関心も示していると気がつきます。 彼は、常に長崎バイオパークの雌のカピバラの注目の的です

6. I believe this unusual sounding capybara vocalisation is sometimes a sign of frustration. This vocalisation is usually made by very high ranking females and breeding males. Donguri makes this call when she wants to visit the male capybara, Toku, however he is in a separate enclosure and she cannot be with him. Hinase and Momiji, number 1 and number 2 in the Bio Park hierarchy, frequently call each other like this, to come to them.  In summer, they often do this at around 1 pm to play in the pond or to go to visit the breeding male.

On the occasion shown in this video Donguri has already made this strange vocalisation several times. It is barely audible the second time (after about 28 seconds). She is calling to Momiji who is in a separate enclosure with her three babies. Donguri is Momiji’s mother. In the wild Donguri would have access to all the capybaras in the herd including her grandchildren and great grandchild, so it must be very upsetting and frustrating for her that she cannot get to them. Donguri also got very upset when a film crew entered Momiji’s enclosure and Momiji became very stressed. Donguri makes the same call when she hurries over to Toku’s enclosure. She has been rubbing her morillo and marking and urinating in Toku’s presence so she may be coming into oestrus.

This is a very interesting sounding call.  I have never seen reference to it in research papers on capybara vocalisations.

The Bark:

8.  Capybara Alarm Calls “Danger Humans” カピバラアラームが呼び出し「危険の人間」

Most afternoons at about 4 PM Goemon, a 4-year-old male capybara who was born at Nagasaki Bio Park and is in a separate enclosure to keep him apart from the females, makes the most compelling, frantic calls. (see video below)!

In the video below, Syu repeatedly makes this alarm call (whistle) alerting the rest of the herd.

9. Tooth Chattering 歯のチャタリング

You can hear and see tooth chattering just after 1 minute and 8 seconds and again for longer at about 1 minute and 32 seconds. Yuzu is doing the tooth chattering. She has been put in a separate enclosure because six of the capybaras in the main herd attacked her. I was told she doesn’t defend herself which is why these capybaras pick on her, but I don’t know if that is accurate.

 This is the anxious call/vocalisation of a baby capybara. In this case little Donut has lost his mother, Momiji. Momiji hears his cries and comes looking for him, then Donut and brother Choco suckle.

10. The Appeasement Call/Vocalisation: this is the call made by a subordinate capybara who is being chased or attacked by a more senior capybara. In essence it is saying “please don’t attack me, I am no threat to you, I respect your place in the hierarchy”. I have seen no reference to this vocalisation in research papers. 

Alarm Calls and Distress Calls

When Aoba was injured she went into hiding in the pond under the boardwalk at Nagasaki Bio Park. When she still had not appeared the next morning the keepers became anxious and called her to come out with no response. Aoba’s mother, Momiji, understanding the situation then began calling frantically to her five-year-old daughter. About 10 minutes later Aoba swam out. I found this extremely interesting; it showed how strong the relationship between mother and daughter capybara was and what an exceptional mother Momiji was. You can see this in part of the video below:

Você pode ter uma experiência maravilhosa de capivara no Brasil no Sitio das Capivaras. You Can Have a Wonderful Capybara Experience in Brazil at Sitio das Capivaras

Há uma fazenda em São Pedro do Butiá de propriedade do Gervasio onde você pode passar o dia todo com as capivaras por apenas R $ 30 o carro (£ 4,50).

Existem parques em muitas cidades brasileiras com rebanhos de capivaras selvagens. Existem pelo menos 2 parques em Curitiba com manadas de capivaras selvagens. Algumas dessas capivaras podem não ter medo de humanos e podem permitir que você os acaricie. No entanto, sempre existe o perigo de que essas capivaras selvagens confiem muito nos humanos e isso possa deixá-las vulneráveis a ataques, ferimentos ou morte. Amigos meus em Curitiba dizem que nem todo mundo que visita os parques é simpático com as capivaras. Em 2016, antes dos Jogos Olímpicos realizados no Brasil, uma capivara foi morta com uma besta em um parque em Curitiba.

Tragicamente, esta capivara foi baleada com uma besta em um parque em Curitiba, e posteriormente morreu. Tragically, this capybara was shot with a crossbow in a park in Curitiba, and subsequently died

As Capivaras vivem uma vida natural em um habitat gramado com acesso a um grande corpo de água. (Não estive lá, então não sei se é um rio ou lagoa.)

Esta é a página deles no Facebook com muitas fotos e vídeos das capivaras:

https://www.facebook.com/sitiodascapivaras/

O Sítio das Capivaras está localizado na Linha Taipão Fundo no município de São Pedro do Butiá-RS.

Este é um vídeo da bela cidade de São Pedro do Butia, incluindo alguns de seus encantadores moradores de capivara:

There are parks in many Brazilian towns and cities with resident herds of wild capybaras. There are at least 2 parks in Curitiba with herds of wild capybaras. Some of these capybaras may not be frightened of humans and may let you pet them. However, there is always the danger that these wild capybaras might become too trusting of humans and this could leave them open to attack, injury or death. Friends of mine in Curitiba say not everyone who visits the parks are nice to the capybaras. In 2016, prior to the Olympic Games held in Brazil, a capybara was killed with a crossbow in a park in Curitiba.

Tragicamente, esta capivara foi baleada com uma besta em um parque em Curitiba, e posteriormente morreu. Tragically, this capybara was shot with a crossbow in a park in Curitiba, and subsequently died

There is a farm in Sao Pedro do Butiá owned by Gervasio where you can spend all day with the capybaras for only R$ 30 per car (£4.50).

The Capybaras live a natural life in a grassy habitat with access to a large body of water. (I haven’t been there so I don’t know if it’s a river or pond.)

This is their Facebook page with lots of photos and videos of the capybaras:

https://www.facebook.com/sitiodascapivaras/

Sítio das Capivaras is located on the Linha Taipão Fundo municipality of São Pedro do Butiá-RS.

This is a video of the beautiful town Sao Pedro do Butia, including some of its enchanting capybara residents:

What Happened to Ryoko Capybara and How Has That Affected Her Position in The Hierarchy? 涼子さんカピバラは8月16日木曜日の午後に部分的な流産に苦しんでいますか?

                        I am afraid I have had to remove the photos as some nasty person has been removing the watermark from my photos and uploading them to the internet. It is illegal to remove the watermark.

In the afternoon of Thursday, August 16, 2018 Ryoko and her sister Keiko were sitting beside the entrance gate to the capybara enclosure hoping to escape. Ryoko is the biggest capybara in the herd and her sister Keiko is by far the smallest. They are from the same litter and for the first few months they were a similar size. Because of her small size it is much easier for Keiko to escape which she frequently does. The keepers are quite happy to let her stay outside the enclosure grazing as she needs to put on weight and she never strays far.

Ryoko was heavily pregnant having mated with Kona, the breeding male capybara, at both the beginning and the end of April. I was told the keepers did not think she had become pregnant at the beginning of April. The gestation period for a capybara is generally considered to be five months, although some people believe it is four and a half months.

On seeing that Keiko had escaped the keeper, quite unnecessarily, ran over to the gate at great speed. This alarmed Ryoko who ran as fast as she could to the edge of the pond and sat there looking very upset. She then lay down and experienced three violent spasms. I was very worried that Ryoko had miscarried and when we arrived the following morning I was expecting to see her in a distressed state.

Missing photo

Ryoko gave birth on September 5. She gave birth to 3 pups, one was already dead, another was very weak and died shortly after. Only little Ryosuke survived.  Ryoko is the largest capybara in the herd and was in her prime at four and a half years old. In the wild capybaras reach their prime reproducing age at 4 years and give birth to 4.2 pups on average per litter. Capybaras can give birth to up to 8 pups in one litter.

As the largest capybara in the herd, and in her prime, it might be reasonable to assume that Ryoko is also the healthiest and fittest. I had expected Ryoko to give birth to at least 3 healthy pups and very possibly 4 or 5. I believe the trauma she experienced on August 16 may have caused a partial miscarriage in which the umbilical cord attaching the weak pup (who only lived a short time) to his mother’s uterus was compromised.

  Missing photo

Being heavily pregnant for the first time must be stressful. I was also worried about an additional, unnecessary stress that Ryoko was subjected to. From about the second week in August Ryoko was being separated from the herd for 17 hours a day even though I was told she was not expected to give birth until about the middle of September at the earliest. (On one occasion Ryoko was put in her separate enclosure over an hour and a half early, presumably because the keeper on duty wanted to make a quick getaway at the end of her working day. Ryoko never presented a problem being put in her separate enclosure so subjecting her to this extra separation time was quite unacceptable.)

It is very stressful for a member of this highly social species to be separated from the herd and there is a danger that separation will undermine a capybara’s position in the hierarchy and leave her vulnerable to being attacked. On our last day Maple was aggressive to Ryoko and Ryoko swam away giving the appeasement vocalisation. Maple would never have done this before Ryoko was separated. Ryoko is number three in the hierarchy and Maple is about five in the hierarchy. It is my belief that Ryoko could safely have given birth in the main enclosure as Donguri and Ayu both did. Ryoko is a very intelligent capybara, one of the two most intelligent capybaras in the herd, and I believe she would have found a safe place to give birth.  Obviously once Ryoko gave birth she would have to be separated together with her babies to protect the babies from visitors.

In an email to the chief animal keeper I warned that I thought Ryoko might be in danger of attack because of being separated from the herd for so long. This separation could weaken her place in the hierarchy and leave her vulnerable to aggression from capybaras seeking her place in the hierarchy.

Shortly after giving birth Ryoko suffered a dramatic loss of weight. From a video made at the end of September she appeared to be almost skin and bones. It was heartbreaking to see the largest, fittest capybara in the herd reduced to this. When she was released back into the herd in the main enclosure she was attacked (I have not yet been able to ascertain which capybara or capybaras attacked her). Because of the attack she has had to be separated from the herd once again. In her separate enclosure Ryoko looked extremely stressed and unhappy. Her surviving male pup spends part of every day away from his mother mixing with the capybara herd in the main enclosure. This must have been extremely stressful for Ryoko to be separated from her very young pup.

WN Momiji with bloody nose Maple attack September 4, 2013 149

When Momiji and her babies, Choco, Donut and Ayu’s son Macaroni, rejoined the main herd after 12 weeks of separation before and after she gave birth, Momiji came under constant attack from Maple. It was heartrending to watch poor Momiji. Life was very stressful for her

Researchers in South America have concluded that the dangers of separation for a pregnant female capybara outweigh any possible danger to the pup if the pup is born without the mother being separated from the herd. On my first visit to the capybaras, Fujiko, was separated from the herd at least six weeks before she eventually gave birth. She was put in an enclosure out of sight of the herd which caused a great deal of stress and distress not only to Fujiko but also to members of the herd. Every afternoon her daughters, Ayu and Hinase, would sit by the boundary fence closest to where their mother was, joined by Fujiko’s mother, Donguri, all calling plaintively to her. On some occasions the entire herd would sit here calling to Fujiko.

One afternoon when I was sitting petting Donguri she suddenly stood up and called frantically, then she began to walk over to the boundary fence nearest Fujiko. As we neared the boundary fence Donguri looked up at me appealingly and I realised she wanted me to open the gate so she could be with Fujiko. It broke my heart that I did not have the authority to open the gate and that I could not explain to her how much I wanted to help her but that it was not within my power to do so. Fujiko was moved to an enclosure adjoining the main enclosure after she gave birth and remained there for a further six weeks. In addition to her own two pups, she also nursed Syu and Autumn whose mother, Aki, had died five days after giving birth. When Fujiko returned to the herd she found life very stressful having lost her place in the hierarchy. Seven months later she died.

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Momiji after she was attacked by Maple

In 2013 Momiji found life very stressful when she was separated from the herd before and after giving birth to Choco and Doughnut. She frequently called to the herd. Her mother Donguri came and sat beside the entrance gate to her enclosure for long periods, calling softly to her. When Momiji was reunited with the herd following twelve weeks of separation the very intelligent chief animal keeper put Maple in a separate enclosure during the day for the first few weeks to prevent her from attacking Momiji. After this when Momiji and Maple were in the same enclosure Maple frequently tried to attack Momiji. Maple wanted Momiji’s place in the hierarchy and sensed that the demands of childbirth and nursing her two pups had weakened Momiji. Momiji had lost a lot of weight and was always hungry as I pointed out to the keepers. For some very strange reason there seems to be a reluctance to give a nursing mother extra food.

The demands of giving birth and nursing can undermine the health of a mother if she does not get enough to eat. Capybara babies suckle for four months; the second half of this period of lactation, i.e. the final two months place the heaviest demands on the health and fitness of the mother capybara. Momiji survived in part because of the intelligent intervention of the chief capybara keeper. (Ryoko was given no such protection by the current chief capybara keeper; whoever was attacking Ryoko was not put in a separate enclosure to protect Ryoko.) It also helped that Momiji is very fit and an incredibly strong minded capybara and her mother, Donguri, was leader of the herd. Having Donguri as her mother ensured that Momiji could always share her mother’s food trough.

Missing photo:  Ryoko is always trying to escape. Like Choco she was able to open the gate until they changed the handle, but even now she still tries every day. However, when the chief capybara keeper tried to lure her out of the enclosure for a walk with a huge branch of bamboo, Ryoko was deeply suspicious and refused to go near the gate. She even stopped eating the bamboo she loves rather than follow the chief capybara

The keeper who frightened Ryoko is new and is a very nice person he just needs a little more training. The zookeeper course should teach trainee zookeepers that they must always move amongst the animals in a calm, unhurried way, showing consideration and respect for the animals at all times. This keeper is always rushing, sometimes running, and this always disturbs and sometimes frightens the capybaras.

Missing photo:  On one occasion Marc and I gave Ryoko a few sprigs of bamboo. She looked so happy and sang sweetly for us. Immediately afterwards the chief capybara keeper went over to her with several huge branches of bamboo. As she approached Ryoko stood up nervously, ready to move away quickly if she had to. Ryoko is extremely intelligent and does not trust the chief capybara keeper at all 

Keepers who understand animals would of course instinctively know how to move around the enclosure. They always show respect for the capybaras and move In a calm, relaxed and unthreatening manner. Even when the capybaras escape, keepers who understand animals are always gentle and considerate as they usher the escapees back into their enclosure.

It is imperative that anyone working with animals is able to see the world from the animals’ perspective. This is a fundamental teaching of Animal Welfare Science. Also fundamental to Animal Welfare Science is the knowledge that every behaviour an animal exhibits is meaningful and is the animal’s way of communicating with humans. Animals in captivity must be able to exhibit their natural behaviours, which in the case of capybaras means they should have access to grazing at will and access to a large pond or other body of water as they are semiaquatic. Animals in captivity must also have some control over their lives. Some keepers do not understand this and one keeper uses dog training methods and food to control and manipulate the capybaras in her care. This particularly affects the most senior capybaras in the hierarchy who are already under stress at not being able to fulfil their two most important natural behaviours: to mate and to graze at will. Capybaras are very intelligent and exceptionally sensitive emotionally. They know exactly what this keeper is trying to do and like most rodents species they respond negatively to any effort to control their lives. Capybaras are quite different to dogs who have evolved into a domesticated species over the course of 25,000 years! The result of this unnecessary control and manipulation is extra stress on the herd and capybaras who do not trust the keepers. Ryoko, in particular, is nervous whenever the chief capybara keeper approaches her. This chief capybara keeper should work in the dog section of the zoo.

Capybara Facts and Information. Everything You Wanted To Know About Capybaras カピバラの事実と情報. カピバラについて知りたいすべてのもの. 水豚事實和信息。 你想知道的關於水豚的一切

I am afraid I have had to remove the photos as some nasty person has been removing the watermark from my photos and uploading them to the internet. It is illegal to remove the watermark.

Capybara Facts and Information (Hydrochoerus Hydrochaeris).

The capybara has attracted the attention of explorers and writers to South America from the 16th century onward. They were struck by both its size and its gregariousness and relative tameness. The capybara is the last survivor of a long line of gigantic grass eating rodents that evolved in South America over millions of years. The salient feature of capybara behaviour is undoubtedly their gregariousness.   It is the world’s largest rodent.

Scientific name: Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris.

NWN Aoba 18 Sep 2015 126

In the past capybaras were also known as Water Pig.

The name, capybara, originates from a word in the language of the indigenous Tupi people (ka’pii which means grass + gwara which means eater). The language of the Tupi was the most widely spoken language in South America in the 16th century and means grass eater although the translation “Master of the Grasses” is more poetic and reflects their diet and to some extent their habitat. There are many, many different names for the capybara in South America, the most common of these include: carpincho, capivara, chiguire, ronsoco.

There are 2 species of capybara:    The less common species is the Lesser Capybara (Hydrochoerus Isthmius) found in eastern Panama, northwestern Colombia and western Venezuela. This is a scientifically distinct species with anatomical differences, a smaller size and genetic differences. The species is fairly common in Panama but increasingly rare in Venezuela. It is threatened by subsistence hunting, the destruction of forested areas and the drainage of swamps. The Lesser Capybara breeds year round, with an average litter size of 3.5 pups. Individuals may be diurnal or nocturnal and solitary or social depending on season, habitat and hunting pressure.

Geographical Location:   Capybaras, Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris, are found in Central and South America from Panama to Northern Argentina primarily east of the Andes. They inhabit several types of wetland including gallery forest along rivers, mangroves and marshes. Capybaras reach their highest densities in the seasonally flooded savannas of the Llanos of Venezuela and Colombia, and the Pantanal of the Mato Grosso and on Marajo island in Brazil. They are always found in close proximity to water. The highest altitude at which capybaras are found is 4, 500 feet (1500 m). The only South American country with no capybaras is Chile.

Size and Weight: An adult capybara is large! Adult capybaras weigh on average from 40 to 50 kg in the wild (range 35 – 65 kg). In captivity the average weight is between 50 – 60 kg for a healthy capybara. There is no difference in weight between the sexes, but there are differences in size across the capybaras’ geographical distribution, with capybaras in Venezuela smaller than those of central and south eastern Brazil and Argentina, and those found in north-eastern Brazil being smaller still. In length they average about 4 feet (1.2 m) and are up to 2 feet tall (.60 m).

Physical Description:   Capybaras’ skin is thick and sparsely covered with coarse, oily water-resistant fur, varying in colour: red, grey, brown and straw coloured. Some black hairs can be found on the face, rump and limbs.

NWN 40% crop Syrup Q best sparse hair 28 Dec 2016 070

Capybaras have very coarse, sparse hair which dries very quickly

Capybaras have a vestigial tail but this is not visible from a distance. The front legs are shorter than the hind legs. The feet are partially webbed with four toes on the front feet and three toes on the hind feet. The head is large with the nostrils, eyes and ears (which are small and sparsely covered with short hairs, with a mobile fold that closes the ear canal when they submerge) located on the top of their head, so they can hear, smell and see while remaining almost completely submerged, an adaptation to their semi aquatic lifestyle which allows them to keep a lookout for any dangers while remaining almost invisible.  You can see this in the video below:

Semi aquatic lifestyle: Access to water is essential for capybaras. Capybaras’ territory always includes water which is used both as a refuge from predators and to control body temperature. They often seek refuge in water to escape predators (except the Cayman, which will rarely attack a capybara on land, but will often attack a capybara in water).  A Jaguar has to be within 3 feet of a capybara to have a chance of a successful attack.

NWN 40% XXX Aoba heart shaped paw 10 Jan 2017 086

Capybara front paw with 4 toes. Hind paws have 3 toes. This is a photo of the underside of a Capybara’s front foot. Capybaras have partially webbed feet. They have 4 toes on each front foot and 3 toes on each hind foot

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The Capybara Scandal

I am trying to stop capybaras becoming the next “must have” exotic pet craze, and suffering the same fate as potbellied pigs, when they become large and difficult to handle.

I was talking to a lady who runs an Animal Refuge in Indiana who already has 2 capybaras who she rescued. She said there was a growing number of people buying female capybaras in order to mate them, and make money out of selling their babies. She expects to have many more capybaras who need to be rescued, because there are now so many breeders, and so many people who want a cute pet capybara.

When capybaras are portrayed as “cute” (dressed in clothes, hats and sunglasses) you create a market for pet capybaras among people who are not really interested in capybaras, but just love their cuteness. These people have no understanding of a capybara’s needs, and no desire to spend time doing the necessary research.

Capybaras are happiest as part of a herd in their natural habitat. These capybaras are in the Llanos of Colombia

People need to know that pet capybaras are sometimes aggressive. As they grow older and bigger, capybaras become very powerful. They have very sharp teeth (the Amerindians, in South America, use capybara teeth as weapons, attached to poles). Not many people want a pet who can cause painful, even serious, injuries.

Please see my blog: A Pet Capybara: Should I Have One?    https://capybaraworld.wordpress.com/2013/02/20/a-pet-capybara-should-i-have-one/

The leading breeder of capybaras stopped selling capybaras to the public as pets, about 8 years ago, because so many pet capybaras suffered, often dying prematurely or ending up in animal refuges.

This is the perfect enclosure for a capybara: lots of grass and a large pond. Photo by Martin MurmelTier Hees

Many pet capybaras die prematurely due to tooth problems, inappropriate diet and stress.

A friend, who runs an animal refuge, reminded me of the craze for potbellied pigs, not so long ago. When these potbellied pigs grew larger, many were abandoned and ended up in refuges. The same is beginning to happen with capybaras.

Capybaras are very sensitive emotionally; they are intelligent, sentient beings who can think and feel.

If you look in Ran’s eyes you can see how frightened he is

I was heartbroken to learn that during the extreme cold spell in February 2021, many pet capybaras suffered frostbite. This indicates that most people who get pet capybaras should not. This has happened before. Over the years I have been horrified to hear of capybaras suffering frostbite in North America. If I had capybaras living outside in extreme weather conditions, I would usher them into my house, and if necessary cover them with blankets. No capybara should suffer frostbite.

I find it very depressing that people who say they care about capybaras like to see capybaras dressed in clothes. No one who dresses a capybara in clothes should have one of these remarkable animals.

It seems that most people cannot see life from an animal’s perspective. Like everyone who understands animals, I don’t understand why people like seeing capybaras in dresses. One of the reasons people love capybaras is they are so cute – naked!

People should know that capybaras don’t like wearing clothes. This should not come as a surprise to anyone who understands animals. I have witnessed first-hand how uncomfortable and unhappy capybaras are in clothes. Being made to wear clothes also interferes with the relationship between a pet capybara and their owner. The capybara is confused why someone they love is doing this to them.

I came across a website, by accident, which advertised capybaras for sale. These were capybaras who had outgrown their “baby” cuteness. They varied in age from about nine months to 3 years. The way in which they were described by the people selling them was heartbreaking. One seller described his capybara as “Sold as is, with defects”, as if he was selling a used car. Another advertised his capybara as: “Cannot be handled”; I wondered what had caused this capybara to become so unhappy and aggressive. Another seller described the capybara he was selling as “Suitable for display” as though this sensitive, living being was an inanimate object with no feelings or needs. I was in tears thinking about the unhappy lives humans had created for these loving animals. And I was appalled at the lack of compassion, concern or morality of the people selling these unwanted capybaras.

I was in conversation recently with a man who wanted to keep a capybara as a pet. He was convinced he could give the capybara a better life than the capybara would experience in the wild! Research has shown that wild animals kept as pets suffer much more stress than if they were living in the wild, in their natural habitat.  I was horrified at this man’s lack of understanding and arrogance. He obviously had no understanding whatsoever of animals, and unfortunately was not interested in learning.

Capybaras do not like to wear clothes. Dressing a pet capybara causes stress and interferes with the bond between the capybara and the human, as the capybara cannot understand why the human is doing this to him
Capybaras do not like to wear clothes. Dressing a pet capybara causes stress and interferes with the bond between the capybara and the human, as the capybara cannot understand why the human is doing this to him

It is well known that the market for “cute” animal photos and videos is detrimental to Animal Welfare. In some countries it encourages people to buy wild animals as pets when in fact these wild animals are totally unsuited to becoming pets and usually suffer. It also results in an increasing number of zoos, often very small and cramped, which house cute animals in prisonlike conditions. These animals suffer immense stress in small, unsuitable enclosures, often with concrete floors. In the case of capybaras, who are semi aquatic, their water source is a small plastic tub often barely larger than the capybara himself, when they need a body of water large enough for them to swim and play.

Capybara cafes should be banned. A cafe is a very stressful and unsuitable habitat for a wild animal. Animals in captivity should always be able to express their natural behaviours and have some control over their lives. Capybaras need to have access to grazing and a pond 24/7. Nobody who understands animals would want to see a capybara, or any other wild animal, in a cafe.

We humans cause so much suffering to the animals we call “cute”. Capybaras, and all other species, are so VERY MUCH MORE than cute.

For more on this topic see my blog: “Animal Manifesto, Animals Are Real Not Cute”

https://capybaraworld.wordpress.com/2018/01/01/animal-manifesto-animals-are-real-not-cute/

Anyone who understands animals and cares about capybaras will be very concerned about the welfare of the growing number of capybaras being bought as pets.

There is an increasing number of people breeding capybaras for sale as pets to meet this demand. The result is capybaras suffer, and end up in refuges.

Some of the people who say they love capybaras, understand animals and care about the welfare of capybaras. Other people who say they like capybaras, just like their cuteness and want them as entertainment, but have no understanding of, or interest in, their welfare. Unfortunately, I believe the majority of people who say they like capybaras, are in the latter category. I believe this is partly because most people cannot see life from an animal’s perspective. My mission is to prevent capybaras from suffering by helping people to understand the needs of these remarkable, sentient beings.

What Should I Feed My Pet Capybara? Capybara Diet

 

Please see my latest blog about capybara diet:

Capybara Diet. Includes Treatments for Dietary Health Issues.

https://capybaraworld.wordpress.com/2021/10/10/capybara-diet-includes-treatments-for-dietary-health-issues-%e6%b0%b4%e8%b1%9a%e9%a3%b2%e9%a3%9f-%e3%82%ab%e3%83%94%e3%83%90%e3%83%a9%e3%83%80%e3%82%a4%e3%82%a8%e3%83%83%e3%83%88/

Includes details of Milk Formula specifically formulated for baby capybaras

A lady who has an Animal Sanctuary with capybaras, recently told me: “I do believe diet has killed most pet capybaras who die prematurely. People feed them a diet which is too “rich”, as well as other foods which capybaras have not evolved to eat. Some people feed dairy for the life of the capybara which is crazy. Many people also feed junk food, popsicles, other foods with sugar, too much fat, and too much food like corn and fruit. One person even fed her capybara toothpaste every day because he liked it! Toothpaste contains fluoride which is a toxin, and is used in rodent killer products. This lady’s capybaras are living to a ripe old age on a diet of: Hay, grass, bamboo, some vegetables and sometimes sweet potato, and very occasionally fruit. They also get guinea pig pellets or rabbit pellets daily, and extra vitamin C. They have never been sick or had tooth problems.

Marvin and Elizabeth asked me to write this blog. They felt that when their first capybara came to live with them the information they needed was not available on the Internet.

Please Don’t Let Any More Capybaras Die Prematurely.

Templeton, The Brightest of Stars, who should still be with us today

Templeton, The Brightest of Stars, who should still be with us today

Templeton, The Brightest of Stars, two weeks before he passed away In the wild baby Capybaras stand look out on their Mother while she sleeps.

Templeton, two weeks before he passed away
In the wild baby Capybaras stand look out on their Mother while she sleeps.

What Should I Feed My Pet Capybara?

This blog is written in memory of Templeton, a young capybara, the brightest of stars, who died far too prematurely when he was only four months old. Marvin and Elizabeth believe that his diet caused his death. They did not feed him junk food, but they did feed him a lot of corn and carrots which his young digestive system could not cope with

Put simply:  DO NOT FEED YOUR CAPYBARA ANYTHING THAT IS HIGH FAT, LIKE PEANUTS, SUNFLOWER SEEDS, OR BIRD SEED OR ANYTHING WITH ADDED SUGAR AND ABSOLUTELY NO CANDY or  JUNK FOOD, AND ONLY OCCASIONALLY  SWEET FRUIT.

Rodents are addicted to sugar and sweet foods. Another reason I would never introduce anything sweet into a capybara diet as this can lead to the capybara becoming curious about other foods which he/she had never shown any interest in before.

Templeton, So Full of Life and Oh So Cute. Here he is with Yellow Cat

Templeton, So Full of Life and Oh So Cute. Here he is with Yellow Cat

The capybara digestive system evolved over 30 million years to take advantage of a diet that was high in fibre and low in nutritional content. If you want your capybara to live a long and healthy life you should try to replicate this diet as closely as possible.

Sugar and Stress are two of the most potentially life-threatening causal factors a pet capybara can encounter. Capybaras should not be given anything with sugar in it like candy, ice cream, sweetened yoghurt, ice lollies etc. Neither should they be given junk food; this seems like common sense but it is surprising how many people, out of ignorance, will feed their pets whatever junk food they are eating. In addition, Exotic Animal Vets warn about the potential harm in feeding the naturally occuring ‘sugar’ in sweet vegetables and fruit, specifically mentioning sweetcorn because of the high sugar content, so you can imagine how disastrous any food with added sugar would be.

Templeton, So Friendly and Adorable

Templeton, So Friendly and Adorable

Animals do not have the same tolerance for unnatural feed that humans have. This is especially true in the case of a capybara, where its digestive system is exceptionally sensitive, and has been described by at least one expert as the ‘weak link’ in terms of capybara health. I know of at least two capybaras who died very prematurely, in one case after only a few months, because of diet.

The healthiest pet capybaras that I have met are fed a diet of fresh untreated grass, hay (Orchard Hay and Timothy Hay which are not too high quality), aquatic reeds and guinea pig feed.

The olive shaped, green, separated droppings  are a sign of a healthy capybara in the wild.  Softer, sausage shaped faeces are an indication that the capybara is being fed the wrong diet. Fruit, carrots, sweet corn etc may be responsible.

Please also see this blog for information about plants, chemicals and other potentially lethal dangers that capybaras may encounter:
https://capybaraworld.wordpress.com/2014/06/29/capybaras-beware-of-toxic-plants-chemicals-and-poisonous-animals-like-scorpions-and-snakes-humans-remove-these-from-your-land-garden-and-yard-%e3%82%ab%e3%83%94%e3%83%90%e3%83%a9%e3%81%ab/

HEALTHY TEETH:  To avoid your pet capybara ending up with very painful, life threatening (not to mention expensive) teeth problems, it is essential to include a lot of coarse grazing in a capybara diet.  Unlimited Fresh grass should be a staple part of every capybara diet.   Lower quality hay is more suitable for a capybara’s digestive system and means they will eat more, which equates to more fiber and more tooth wear. The coarseness of the hay keeps their teeth ground down and healthy. This need to keep their teeth healthy should never, ever be underestimated. It is very important for capybara teeth to be kept in check, as they would be in the wild grazing on coarse grasses. I have seen capybaras chewing on twigs and stones as a method of self-help dentistry. Capybaras may grind their teeth when they sleep, which also helps keep their teeth in check.

The Hay and Guinea pig feed should be available 24/7. In the case of Romeo and Tuff’n, there is a large bale of Orchard/Timothy Hay mix in the living room. Whenever the capybaras want to chew on something, or they feel hungry, they go to the hay (or guinea pig feed). This means they do not chew pillowcases, plastic, comforters or any other inappropriate items of furniture.

The best treatment for diarrhoea is a probiotic. In America this probiotic is called Benebac and in Japan, zoos use a probiotic called Bio 3. This probiotic could be a lifesaver.

Bene-bac

Many people with capybaras and guinea pigs believe the probiotic ‘Bene-bac’ is a lifesaver. Some friends use it whenever the capybara’s poos become softer and sausage shaped, rather than the encapsulated, olive shaped faeces which capybaras living in their natural habitat pass. 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.   It comes in 4 different types – the Bene-bac designed for guinea pigs is the correct one to use.

Constipation: Bene-bac can also be used to treat constipation. It is important to ensure your capybara drinks enough water and has access to fresh water to drink 24 hours a day. A healthy diet of unrestricted access to fresh grass should ensure a capybara does not become constipated. Chewing coarse grasses is essential for the health of capybara teeth. You should always consult your vet as soon as you become concerned.

Bene-bac Product Information

Bene-Bac® Plus Small Animal Powder is recommended any time an animal experiences changing nutritional or environmental conditions.

  • Contains seven fat-encapsulated, common microorganisms found in intestinal tract of small mammals
  • Provides help for changing conditions, including, but not limited to birth, breeding, post-surgery, antibiotic therapy, weaning, worming, showing, boarding and travel
  • Guaranteed 20 million colony-forming units (CFU) of viable bacteria per gram
  • Recommended as part of the management program for all animals subjected to adverse conditions
  • May be used for regular maintenance

https://www.petag.com/products/bene-bac-plus-small-animal-powder

The best animal trainers do not use food as a reward. Capybaras are highly intelligent. In the opinion of many capybara owners they are at least as intelligent as the most intelligent dogs. They are also highly sophisticated emotionally. They respond very well to praise, and are very sensitive to the tone of voice, with a surprisingly large vocabulary. If you say to Romeo “Good Boy, Romeo”, he swells up with pride. This is far more rewarding to him than a sweet toxic food treat.

A new study suggests that most dogs respond more positively to praise than to food.

http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/08/dogs-would-rather-get-belly-rub-treat?utm_source=newsfromscience&utm_medium=facebook-text&utm_campaign=wantatreat-6517

The danger with giving them inappropriate food treats is that they will soon only do what you want in return for a treat. If it is a high energy treat they will no longer eat the copious amounts of grass and hay that they need to maintain a healthy digestive system.

Capybaras are highly emotional animals and do not react well to stress, which can lead to digestive problems. In the wild capybaras have the support of, and close proximity to the herd, for their emotional well-being. As house pets they suffer from separation anxiety to a very high degree if the human with whom they have bonded is not with them. This probably reflects 30 million years of evolution wherein a lone capybara, abandoned by the herd or separated from it, would have little chance of survival.   If you are going to live with a pet capybara it would be kinder to let the capybara bond with another animal who will remain at home all day with the capybara, rather than have him/her bond with you and suffer everytime you have to go out (to work, shopping etc).  A border collie might be the ideal companion.

Milk Formula For Baby Capybaras:

This is the only milk formula specifically formulated for baby capybaras. It has a higher protein content and fat content than other milk formulas for most other species. It comes from Australia.

https://wombaroo.com/shop/ols/products/wombaroo-capybara-milk-replacer-2kg

Wombaroo Capybara Milk Replacer

DIRECTIONS FOR USE: To make 1 litre of milk mix 190g of powder with 870ml of preboiled warm water. Add about half of the water first, mix to a paste then make up to 1 litre with remaining water and mix thoroughly. An electric whisk can be used for mixing.

Feed Impact Colostrum Supplement to new-borns who did not receive sufficient maternal colostrum.

GROWTH & DEVELOPMENT: Typical birth weight is 1.5 – 2.0 kg. Average daily weight gain is about 50-100g per day until weaning at 3 months (approx. 8kg body weight)3 .

Analysis

  • Protein 42%
  • Fat 24%
  • Carbohydrate 22%
  • Ash 6%
  • Moisture 4%
  • Metabolisable Energy (ME) 20MJ/kg

©Wombaroo Food Products, Dec 2017. 10 Oborn Rd, Mt Barker SA 5251 http://www.wombaroo.com.au

CAPYBARA MILK REPLACER 1,2,3

TYPICAL ANALYSIS (Powder)

INGREDIENTS: Whole milk solids, whey protein, casein, vegetable oils, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, stabilised vitamin C, vitamins and minerals.

TYPICAL COMPOSITION PER LITRE OF PREPARED MILK Protein 83g Vitamin E 14mg Folic Acid 1.0mg Sodium 500mg
Fat 49g Vitamin K 1.0mg Vitamin B12 19μg Magnesium 80mg
-Omega 3 1.4g Vitamin C 520mg Biotin 80μg Zinc 5.1mg
-Omega 6 3.4g Thiamine 7.1mg Choline 130mg Iron 5.5mg
Carbohydrate 42g Riboflavin 1.9mg Inositol 100mg Manganese 3.1mg
Energy (ME) 3.9MJ Niacin 29mg Calcium 2.2g Copper 0.8mg
Vitamin A 470μg Pantothenic Acid 11mg Phosphorus 1.6g Iodine 100μg
Vitamin D3 4.6g Pyridoxine 2.4mg Potassium 1400mg Selenium 25μg
TYPICAL ANALYSIS (Powder) Protein 42%
Fat 24%
Carbohydrate 22%
Ash 6%
Moisture 4%
Energy (ME) 20 MJ/kg

_________________________

https://wombaroo.com/shop/ols/products/wombaroo-capybara-milk-replacer-2kg

This is the information Kapi’yva Exotics, a leading breeder of exotic animals, provides for capybara diet on its website:

“Capybaras are true herbivores, their diet in the wild consists almost exclusively of various grasses. In captivity, their diet should consist primarily of guinea pig or livestock feed and plenty of fresh grass or hay. Capybaras do not naturally produce adequate amounts of vitamin C and they can develop scurvy as a result of vitamin C deficiencies. In the wild the large amounts of fresh grass they consume provides the extra vitamin C they need. In captivity, their diet must contain either plenty of fresh grass for grazing or a vitamin C supplement. Most commercial guinea pig diets will contain a vitamin C supplement but these can be very costly if you are feeding multiple adult capybaras. Mazuri and LabDiet guinea pig formulas are available in 25lb and 50lb bags and can be found at, or specially ordered at most feed stores. A much cheaper alternative is livestock or rabbit feed. If used as a staple diet extra vitamin C should be added. The easiest method I’ve found of doing this is to dust or mix their feed with ascorbic acid powder.

I DO NOT recommend feeding fruits, vegetables or other items containing large amounts of sugar on a daily basis. There is some evidence that diets containing large amounts of sugar, even from healthy sources, can cause liver and heart problems.

They have evolved as grazers, feeding primarily grass/hay and guinea pig feed is the best way to mimic their natural diet.”

Some people give horse feed instead of guinea pig pellets primarily for reasons of cost. It is important to read the ingredients of any formula feed as this will dictate your choice.   As horses are considered more valuable than cattle, horse feed is likely to be made of more high-quality ingredients.”

Below I include some information on what not to feed and why. The information comes from exotic pet vets and experienced capybara owners who have done a great deal of research.

Grazing on Unknown Grass: One capybara owner wrote: “We are very cautious about feeding unknown grass. Our rule of thumb, is that if it’s long and neglected, we’ll try it. If it looks too well taken care of, we fear poisons and leave it. It is more likely that fertilisers and weedkillers will be applied to well cared for grass. You also have to always check grass for toxic weeds. We have nightshade in this area. I don’t even know if they would actually eat it, but I’m very cautious.  Water effects fertilizers, but that would not be my main concern. I worry about insecticides and herbicides, which are usually designed to have residual effects that erode over time, not by water.”

Alfalfa:  An exotic pet vet at a leading university veterinary school is quoted as saying ” Absolutely no alfalfa, it is too rich.”  It may also be too high in calcium.

Calcium:  “There may be a concern about too much calcium for rodents and animals who extract extra nutrients through hindgut fermentation, this includes capybaras. There may be a risk of bladder stones or grit from excess calcium. Here’s a hay chart on calcium levels: http://www.guinealynx.info/hay_calcium.html “.

Vegetables:  The Capybaras at Nagasaki Bio Park, some of whom lived to a ripe old age (at least 13 years) were fed vegetables in season. When I was there it was cabbage, carrots and pumpkin. The capybaras at the Bio Park who eat the most carrots do not produce healthy olive shaped faeces. The faeces is soft, barely even sausage shaped.   One capybara owner had this to say about carrots: “I have read online that the sugar level in carrots is on a par with apples and that because of the fat soluble vitamin A, if fed too much (or in a combination with other sources like alfalfa) the vitamin A can build up to toxic levels. She feeds one carrot a day.”

Sweetcorn: every Exotic Pet Vet with experience of capybaras was unanimous in saying you should not feed sweetcorn to capybaras. It is far too sweet.

I would remove all seeds and berries from my garden/yard as soon as they fall from trees.

Below is some information taken from research done on capybaras in the wild in South America:

This excellent book, see link below, is a collection of research papers on capybara, unfortunately finance for research comes from the agricultural industry so that is the primary focus of the research, but there is still a lot of very useful information:

http://www.springer.com/life+sciences/ecology/book/978-1-4614-3999-8

The capybara, Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris, is a herbivorous semi aquatic mammal that grazes near water. A number of physiological and morphological adaptations of the capybaras digestive system allowed this species to meet its energy requirements from a diet with a high fibre and low nutritional content and silica deposits.

These highly fibrous diet components are extremely difficult to digest, therefore herbivores possess specific adaptations for the digestion of these materials. The best known and most common adaptation to a high fibre diet among mammals is fermentation by symbionts (by bacteria and fungi and protozoa), coupled with mechanisms for the digestion and absorption of the products of fermentation. Among mammals there are two distinct types of symbiotic digestion where fermentation occurs. 1) foregut fermentation, as found in cows, and 2) hindgut fermentation as found in rodents.

Hindgut fermenters use the cecum, located between the small and large intestines, as a fermentation chamber, which precludes regurgitation and re-swallowing the fermented plants as a strategy for the absorption of nutrients. In the case of the capybara the process of cecotrophy allows a daily cycle of feeding and reingestion: food goes once along the digestive tract, entering the cecum where it is fermented and then excreted. These excreted products are taken directly from the anus by the herbivore and they pass one more time through the entire digestive tract.  The waste products bypass the cecum and move onto the large intestine, where hard dry faeces are excreted (but not reabsorbed this time). The two processes occur within a 24 hour cycle. It has been argued that, since hindgut fermenters can take advantage of any available directly digestible (i.e. non-fibre) nutrients before the bacterial fermentation takes place, they are more efficient at extracting nutrients from food than foregut fermenters stop

The capybara diet, in the wild, consists mainly of grasses with varying a portion of sedges and just a few other plants

During the wet season when plants are more abundant, capybaras are more selective and spend more time grazing on Hymenachne amplexicaulis, an aquatic grass of high caloric and low fibre content, then on less palatable reeds.

Capybaras are considered predominately diurnal, however groups have been observed grazing during the night.

In the tropics, capybaras spend 31% of their time grazing during the wet season, and 42% in the dry season.

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Pet Capybara Pool Size. What Size Pool Does My Capybara Need?

 

I am afraid I have had to remove the photos as some nasty person has been removing the watermark from my photos and uploading them to the internet. It is illegal to remove the watermark.

 A recommended minimum size of pool/pond is 9 ft x 16 ft with a depth of 4 ft. The pool or pond should have a few shallow places where the capybara can sit and rest while still remaining mostly or partly submerged. If your pool does not have any steps or ledges that would provide this, you should put something like a plastic table in the pool for the capybara to sit on. Make sure it is securely anchored and does not tip over when the capybara climbs onto it.

A large, 8 foot, cattle tank is not sufficient, many people would say . There is no way a capybara can swim properly in something this small. And of course it is not very deep either.

Capybaras are outstanding swimmers and need a pool/pond that is at least 4 feet deep. They love to swim underwater and are very playful, rolling and turning. Capybaras can stay under water for up to 5 minutes.

In the wild capybaras spend much of the afternoon in water. Submerging in water is a way for them to thermoregulate, i.e. cool themselves.

NWN Romeo Swimming

Capybaras are very agile and graceful in water. A cattle tank is not big enough to allow them to express themselves physically and aquatically, as they would in the wild.   It is a wonderful sight watching a capybara swim, and roll, and play with gay abandon.

 

Please see my blog which gives information about the dangers to capybaras of letting capybaras use your swimming pool. I also give information about a recommended filter system to use to clean the water in your swimming pool.  It is recommended that you do not use chlorine.

https://capybaraworld.wordpress.com/2013/07/26/pet-capybara-health-warning-it-might-be-potentially-dangerous-to-let-your-capybara-swim-in-a-chlorinated-swimming-pool-designed-and-intended-for-human-use/

This is a video of Romeo and Tuff’n playing in their swimming pool, you will see how they really make use of, and enjoy, the space available to them:

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Capybara Enclosure Design. Husbandry and Welfare of Capybaras in Zoos and Captive Environments

 

I am afraid I have had to remove the photos as some nasty person has been removing the watermark from my photos and uploading them to the internet. It is illegal to remove the watermark.

 When designing an enclosure for capybaras it is essential to provide them with an environment in which they can display their natural behaviours. The two most important requirements for a capybara enclosure are a large pond/pool and access to grazing.

wn-branfere-july-2012-murmel-tier

This is the perfect enclosure for a capybara: lots of grass and a large pond. Photo by Martin MurmelTier Hees

Animal Welfare is the foundation of what all good zoos do. We can provide good Animal Welfare by taking a behaviour-based husbandry approach to how we manage animals. That means we do not focus on what we are providing for the animals. Rather we focus on what the animal’s behaviour is telling us that the animals’ need. We do this by recognising that all of the behaviours which an animal exhibits are meaningful, and therefore helpful in informing us about what that animal may need.

Behaviour based husbandry incorporates all elements of good animal welfare: good health, psychological well-being, and the expression of natural behaviours. In addition to the design and enrichment of the enclosure, we MUST also ensure positive human animal relationships. The capybara must have choices so that he/she has some control over his life, his environment and his daily routines, as he would in the wild in his natural habitat.

 

This video:  This excellent keeper has put branches of bamboo hanging from bushes around the enclosure to enrich the lives of these capybaras kept in captivity. Capybaras love bamboo. It is vitally important that animals kept in captivity live in an environment that stimulates them mentally and physically. Many animals in zoos suffer extreme stress because they are bored, often living in small, totally unsuitable enclosures. Every capybara should have access to grass in their enclosure and a decent sized pool. Many capybaras in Japan and America live in small enclosures with a concrete or hard earth floor and a small tub of water, sometimes barely large enough for them to fit into. Capybaras are semiaquatic, with partially webbed feet, and it is essential that they have a pond or pool large enough to swim around freely and exercise.

It is imperative that keepers do not try to control capybaras. Rodents, as a species, are particularly intolerant of being controlled. Keepers must understand capybara behaviour. They must be sensitive to a capybara’s mood and what the capybaras’ behaviour is communicating, otherwise the capybara will suffer stress.

In order to understand capybara behaviour the keeper must immerse himself in the lives of the capybaras in his care. He must learn the relationships between the capybaras in the herd. He must be aware that these relationships may change. He must be able to distinguish between different behaviours in order to understand their significance. A good capybara keeper will intuitively understand animal behaviour. He will need to be sensitive and intelligent. He will need to have the patience and interest in capybara behaviour to spend long hours observing capybara behaviour.

Positive human capybara interactions are the foundation of providing good welfare for the capybaras we manage. These capybaras rely on us to provide for all their needs: food, shelter, enrichment, mating opportunities and companionship. If we are unresponsive, negative, unpredictable or aggressive in our interactions with our capybaras we can create significant stress for them.

At all times it is vitally important that we are aware of how what we do may affect our capybaras.

In 2009 Vicky A. Melfi, Zoologist and Animal Welfare Scientist, Identified three primary gaps in our knowledge and approach to zoo animal welfare. Two of these are relevant to capybaras:

One: We tend to focus on indicators of poor welfare and assume that a lack of poor welfare is equivalent to good welfare. However, a lack of poor welfare does not necessarily indicate good welfare.

Two: it is important that we look at an animal’s housing and husbandry from the perspective of what that species needs and not from a human perspective.

Zoos have traditionally built hygienic enclosures that meet human requirements in terms of cleaning and sweeping and housing structures, but which do not provide for the psychological needs of the animals they are designed to house.

In good zoos today these traditional enclosures have been redeveloped or modified as we recognise that animals have very different behavioural priorities to people. Understanding Animal Behaviour is vital in order to provide appropriate housing and husbandry. It is important to remember that the expression of their natural behaviours has evolved over millions of years and conferred evolutionary success and indeed the survival of this species.

The size of the enclosure should be about one acre or half a hectare for a herd of about 15 capybaras. The size required for the enclosure will depend to some extent on the size of the herd. The landscape of the enclosure should reflect the natural habitat of a capybara living in the wild as far as possible.

Capybaras are semiaquatic, and can be very energetic and playful in water, therefore a large pond or pool should be provided. Capybaras are grazing animals, grasses form the staple of their diet, which means they should have access to grass.

 This five year old female capybara escaped from her enclosure where there was no grazing in order to eat grass. Interestingly capybaras often know what food is best for them. The capybaras at one zoo do not like the carrots which are given to them and try to escape in order to eat grass.It is also essential that the keepers who care for the capybaras have a deep interest in and understanding of capybara behaviour and animal welfare. They must spend time observing the capybaras so that they can recognise behaviours and understand the relationships between the individual capybaras in order that they can manage the herd to ensure the best welfare and to avoid aggression. They should observe the condition of the capybaras including their size/weight, the condition of their coat/hair, how much they eat, how they chew (for possible tooth problems) and any signs of abnormal behaviours so if there are any developing health issues these can be treated at an early stage.

Capybaras in captivity may be fed pellets and appropriate vegetables to ensure that their dietary requirements are met. There should be a feeding station for each capybara to ensure that every capybara gets enough to eat. If capybaras in a herd are competing for food this will lead to aggression. Once aggression becomes established in the herd it is extremely difficult to eradicate. For this reason every effort should be made to ensure that feeding does not involve competition between capybaras for food. The keepers may need to sit beside and guard some capybaras at the bottom of the hierarchy if they are not getting enough to eat because other larger and more senior (in the hierarchy) capybaras intimidate them and push them away from food.

In their natural habitat in South America researchers have not found evidence of a female hierarchy. However, in captivity where the capybaras are living in a confined environment and sometimes competing for food or facilities, a strong female hierarchy develops. The keepers will need to be observant and ensure the well-being of capybaras at the bottom of the hierarchy. Male capybaras are hierarchical and can be very aggressive to other males including their own adult male offspring.

If a capybara is so badly injured that he/she has to be taken out of the herd and put in a separate enclosure to recover from the wounds, it will almost certainly be impossible for that capybara to be reintroduced back into the herd. The capybaras most likely to attack an injured capybara are those immediately below the injured capybara in the hierarchy.

Enclosure Enrichment: the purpose of enrichment, both environmental and cognitive, is to ensure the well-being of animals in captivity. Enrichment allows animals to make choices and lead interesting and stimulating lives, and to be able to exhibit their natural behaviours.

The physical enrichment of the enclosure should include:

A large pool or pond. The capybaras should have easy access to this pond or pool. Depending on the number of capybaras the size of the pond/pool should be at least 12 feet/4 m x 24 feet/8 m. Most of this pond should be 4 feet/1.3 m in depth, but some areas should be at shallow depths of 1 and 2 feet, .3 and .6 m, so that the capybara can rest partially submerged in water, and also easily get in and out of the pond/pool. When the weather is hot capybaras go into the water to thermoregulate, i.e. to keep cool. They also seek water as a refuge from danger. In captivity a capybara might be being chased and therefore seek refuge in water. Additionally, if the capybara is injured in some way, perhaps his/her teeth have broken at the root (capybaras have hypsodont teeth which means they grow continually. These broken teeth will grow back in just over two weeks) and the capybara feels vulnerable, he/she will seek refuge in water.

Shelter: the enclosure must provide some shelter from sun, heat and rain. This could be provided by trees and bushes, or by a man-made structure.

Enclosures in Cooler Climates: Capybaras prefer a temperature of at least 24°C or 75°F. If the capybara enclosure is in a climate with cold winters than the capybaras must be provided with a sheltered hut with heating to prevent suffering and frostbite.

Grass: it is essential for capybaras to have access to grazing. Capybaras’ digestive system has evolved over 30 million years for a diet of grasses which are high in fibre but low in calories. In their natural habitat, in South America, capybaras eat grasses, aquatic plants, sedges and chew on the bark of bushes and trees. For the health of capybara teeth it is essential that they have access to coarse materials to chew on in order to control the growth of their teeth. Several capybaras in captivity have died because their diet was based on soft foods which did not ensure the health of their teeth. It is essential for animals in captivity to exhibit their natural behaviours and grazing is one of the most important behaviours for a capybara. Capybaras did not evolve to eat two meals a day; they must be allowed to have access to grazing/appropriate food when they are hungry.

Diet: the capybara diet should be augmented by the provision of appropriate pellets. If there is insufficient grass to provide enough grazing daily than green leaf vegetables such as cabbage, lettuce etc can also be fed. The vegetable should not have a high sugar content. Capybaras should not eat carrots as carrots have too high a level of Vitamin A and this can cause liver damage. Many capybaras in Japan suffer an early death due to liver damage. Capybaras should also not eat fruit because of the high sugar content. A probiotic like Benebac or Bio 3 can be given to treat mild cases of diarrhoea.

Appropriate Vegetation: this should include branches or palm fronds and perhaps leaves which provide soft bedding for the capybaras to lie on when resting or sleeping. Capybaras like to mark their territory by rubbing their anal scent glands over vegetation such as branches and palm fronds. As mentioned above it is essential for the health of capybara teeth that they have access to coarse vegetation, like branches or palm fronds, to chew on. Some capybaras like to chew on stones. These stones must be hard so that they do not disintegrate in the capybaras mouth when chewed, and get swallowed causing injury to their digestive tract.

It is essential that animals in captivity are able to express their natural behaviours. It is also very important that the visiting public should see how animals behave in their natural habitat.

The lives of animals in captivity can be very boring and boredom leads to stress. To avoid boredom and stress the enclosure should provide cognitive and occupational activities to stimulate the minds of the capybaras and encourage physical activity to keep the capybaras healthy.

These enrichment activities can include the appropriate vegetation mentioned above and other natural objects which can be manipulated or played with. Feeding can also be done in a way that provides entertainment for the capybaras. For example, branches of bamboo can be positioned in different parts of the enclosure so that the capybaras have to rise up on their hind legs to eat it or pull it down. Branches of bamboo can be tied to the bushes overhanging the pond/pool so that the capybaras can entertain themselves trying to rise up to eat it. Food pellets can be scattered, or hidden in different areas for the capybaras to find.

The activities described above would also provide cognitive enrichment as the capybaras engage in problem-solving to achieve their food reward.

Sensory and Social Enrichment: capybaras are a highly social and gregarious species. A capybara should never be housed alone, on its own in an enclosure. This would be extremely stressful and would lead to changes in the capybara’s behaviour and personality. Stress levels can be determined by analysing faeces for the presence of stress hormones like cortisol. Extreme stress can lead to changes in the brain structure and an early death.

As capybaras are extremely social and very responsive to tactile stimulation, it is important that the zookeepers responsible for the capybaras pet them and are very friendly. Initially the capybaras may not trust the keeper, so the keeper first has to gain the trust of the capybara in order to get close enough to pet the capybara. To achieve this the keeper could offer food or perhaps a branch of bamboo, and when the capybara comes close to eat the food the keeper can slowly and gently begin to pet the capybara. Capybaras love to be petted; their hair rises, they lie down and roll over and vocalise. Capybara vocalisations include the most beautiful sounds. Positive human animal relationships are vitally important for the well-being of the capybaras living under the care of humans.

If visitors to the zoo will be able to enter the capybara enclosure it is essential that there is an area of the enclosure which is not accessible to these visitors. This is to allow the capybaras to go somewhere private otherwise they may become stressed if they cannot choose whether they wish to be in the company of human visitors or not. Also, ideally, there should be an island in the pond to which the capybaras can go to escape humans.

Mud: capybaras love to roll in mud. It is good for the condition of their skin and can help to exterminate mites or ticks. Mud provides capybaras with enjoyment and relaxation. Rolling in mud is a natural behaviour which capybaras should be able to exhibit in a captive environment.

At all times it is vitally important that we are aware of how what we do may affect our animals.

The basic Animal Welfare protocol is The Five Freedoms:     

Freedom from hunger and thirst: by ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigour.

Freedom from discomfort: by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area.

Freedom from pain, injury or disease: by prevention through rapid diagnosis and treatment.

Freedom to express normal behaviour: by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal’s own kind.

Freedom from fear and distress: by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering.

The Five Welfare Domains: However, The Five Freedoms protocol was developed in 1965 to rectify the suffering of farm animals, i.e. animals used in agriculture. The Five Freedoms protocol simply emphasises what is our basic duty but does not go far enough to ensure the well-being that we would want for animals kept in captivity and in zoos. We need to provide animals with enjoyable and positive experiences. To address this, David Mellor, an Animal Welfare Scientist working in New Zealand, has developed The Five Welfare Domains. The aim of The Five Welfare Domains is to ensure that animals have positive physical and emotional experiences. This is essential for good animal welfare and the well-being of animals in captivity.

Capybara Diet. Includes Treatments for Dietary Health Issues.

https://capybaraworld.wordpress.com/2021/10/10/capybara-diet-includes-treatments-for-dietary-health-issues-%e6%b0%b4%e8%b1%9a%e9%a3%b2%e9%a3%9f-%e3%82%ab%e3%83%94%e3%83%90%e3%83%a9%e3%83%80%e3%82%a4%e3%82%a8%e3%83%83%e3%83%88/