Pet Capybara FAQs. The Questions People Always Ask.

Pet Capybara FAQs. ペットのカピバラのFAQ。 (よくある質問)

Part 1 and much of Part 2 by Marvin Reeder who lives with Romeo and Tuff’n. These are the questions Marvin and Elizabeth are asked every day when they take Romeo and Tuff’n to the park:

Tuff'n and Romeo make regular visits to Lake Mead to swim. They do have their own specially treated swimming pool at home, but in the wild they would enjoy a life with wide open vistas. Capybaras like most wild animals do not like to be confined. They hate fences and barriers.

Tuff’n and Romeo make regular visits to Lake Mead to swim. They do have their own specially treated swimming pool at home, but in the wild they would enjoy a life with space and vistas. Capybaras like most wild animals do not like to be confined. They hate fences and barriers.

1. What is that?   A capybara.

What is a capybara?  

(Polite answer):     A Semi-Aquatic Herbivore from South America.

(Straight answer):     The World’s Largest Rodent.

Romeo

Romeo

2. Do they make a good pet?     NO!

It is very hard to create an environment which is healthy and mentally rewarding for the capybara, and safe.

How to pet a baby capybara. Little 2 month old Cookie, Maple’s daughter and Butter’s sister, goes into a trance state when just the right spot is massaged in just the right way.

 

The best experience you may have with capybaras is at Nagasaki Bio Park. Please see my blog:  If You Want a Capybara to Sit in Your Lap Go to Nagasaki Bio Park.  あなたは好きですか?愛情カピバラ?あなたの上に座って?長崎バイオパークに行きます

https://capybaraworld.wordpress.com/2016/04/01/if-you-want-a-capybara-to-sit-in-your-lap-go-to-nagasaki-bio-park-%e3%81%82%e3%81%aa%e3%81%9f%e3%81%af%e5%a5%bd%e3%81%8d%e3%81%a7%e3%81%99%e3%81%8b%ef%bc%9f%e6%84%9b%e6%83%85%e3%82%ab%e3%83%94/

.
3. Are they like a cat or a dog?    No!

They are like a toddler (human) with sharp teeth and an attitude.

Capybara society is very hierarchical. Male capybaras will challenge each other to become the dominant male. With their very sharp teeth this will result in cuts. If you're male capybara decides to challenge you for the dominant position you will get bitten. Capybara skin is much tougher than human skin so it will be very painful

Capybara society is very hierarchical. Male capybaras will challenge each other to become the dominant male. With their very sharp teeth this will result in cuts.
If your male capybara decides to challenge you for the dominant position you may well get bitten. Capybara skin is much tougher than human skin so it will be very painful

4. Are Capybaras Dangerous?:     Capybaras have razor sharp teeth and can be unpredictable. They are after all wild animals.

Do they bite?      Yes, depending on circumstances. I know of several capybaras which have bitten their owners and are now in shelters. It breaks my heart to think how these capybaras have been failed by humans, who probably should never have lived with a capybara in the first place.

Our video: Even the Most Sweet Natured Capybara Can Turn Aggressive 甘い性格のペットカピバラは攻撃的になる
Romeo is the most fantastic Capybara as anyone who has seen the videos of Romeo kissing Elizabeth Ojeda-Reeder Romeo-Tuffn will realise. But capybaras are wild animals and you never know how your actions might play out in the mind of a wild animal. It’s too easy to show how incredibly adorable capybaras are. I’ve seen a couple of blogs lately suggesting capybaras make great pets. This is absolute rubbish and very irresponsible. Capybaras need an incredible amount of love, time and commitment. Very few people would be able to give this. Too many capybaras get rejected as they get bigger and older and end up in refuges or die prematurely.

There is an awful lot of misinformation and inaccurate information about capybaras on the Internet.

 

Romeo nibbles Marvin affectionately. Very few, if any, capybaras could be trusted in this way. Romeo is quite exceptional. Romeo knows that Marvin is number one in the hierarchy and occasionally Romeo challenges him and becomes aggressive. Marvin is powerful enough, and has many decades experience with animals so he has never been seriously injured. This might not be the case with most humans.

Romeo nibbles Marvin affectionately. Very few, if any, capybaras could be trusted in this way. Romeo is quite exceptional.
Romeo knows that Marvin is number one in the hierarchy and occasionally Romeo challenges him and becomes aggressive.
Marvin is powerful enough, and has many decades of experience with animals so he has never been seriously injured. This might not be the case with most humans.

5. How much does IT cost?

The cost could easily exceed thousands of dollars, when you factor in vet’s bills. The time investment the capybara needs is often greater than the (substantial) financial obligation.

Romeo is marking a cushion (with urine, which does not smell) as he frequently does to enforce his territory. He doesn't like the smell of freshly washed cushions. You can see the stains from the faeces on the carpet, faeces is also used for marking. Since this photo was taken all the carpets have been ripped out. In the living room there are now 2 bales of hay instead of furniture. The capybaras eat a lot of hay.

Romeo is marking a cushion (with urine, which does not smell) as he frequently does to enforce his territory. He doesn’t like the smell of freshly washed cushions.
You can see the stains from the faeces on the carpet, faeces is also used for marking.
Since this photo was taken all the carpets have been ripped out. In the living room there are now 2 bales of hay instead of furniture. The capybaras eat a lot of hay.

6. Are they potty trained?

Yes and No.  They are easily potty trained as babies.  However, as they grow older they will probably want to mark their territory using urine and feces. Capybaras need/like to mark their territory (with pooh). Don’t plan on keeping a carpet! Slick surfaces, like tiles, are too slippery, capybaras don’t get good traction with their claws and find it difficult to walk on slick surfaces.

Please see our video: What Capybaras Do When No One Is Looking カピバラアクション。誰も見ていない。   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CvtVm_wN2PY

Romeo doesn’t like the smell of the furnishings especially after they’ve been washed. He needs to make the smells more interesting by marking (using urine and sometimes faeces – you can see the stains on the carpet from the faeces) them. And since there are 2 male capybaras he needs to establish his territory by marking. This should make you think twice about having a pet capybara! Capybaras have not evolved over millions of years to live in homes. Unlike dogs and cats who have had over 10,000 years of domestication in which to adapt to living with humans, capybaras’ natural lifestyles should be respected if they come and live with you. After all they never asked to be your companions. Fortunately Romeo and Tuff’n live in a home with a family who understand their needs, and understand that their needs must be paramount.

 

*******

Part 2 Pet Capybara FAQs – more detailed answers.                   There is a lot of inaccurate information about capybaras on the Internet.

Romeo is about to jump into the pool. You can see the little turds (faeces) he has left behind beside the pool to mark his watering hole.

Romeo is about to jump into the pool. You can see the little turds (faeces) he has left behind beside the pool to mark his watering hole.

1. What is a capybara?

Please see my Blog:    Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Capybaras. Capybara facts and information: https://capybaraworld.wordpress.com/2014/03/29/capybara-facts-and-information-%e3%82%ab%e3%83%94%e3%83%90%e3%83%a9%e3%81%ae%e4%ba%8b%e5%ae%9f%e3%81%a8%e6%83%85%e5%a0%b1/

All the carpets have now been ripped out. It is quite natural for capybaras to mark their territory. It would be cruel to prevent them carrying out this completely natural activity. So for reasons of hygiene you will need to have a floor that is easily washed. However, it must not be slick and slippery, like a tiled floor, as capybaras would not be able to move around comfortably on this type of flooring. The main living room has had all the furniture removed. Now there are just 2 bales of hay for the capybaras to eat.

All the carpets have now been ripped out. It is quite natural for capybaras to mark their territory. It would be cruel to prevent them carrying out this completely natural activity. So for reasons of hygiene you will need to have a floor that is easily washed. However, it must not be slick and slippery, like a tiled floor, as capybaras would not be able to move around comfortably on this type of flooring.
The main living room has had all the furniture removed. Now there are just 2 bales of hay for the capybaras to eat.

 

2. Do they make a good pet?

No!    Capybaras are wild animals whose natural behaviour is not suited to domestication. They are wired for certain behaviours. If you force them to behave by your rules you will destroy some aspect of their spirit and your relationship with them. They did not ask to come and live with you, therefore the onus is on you to adapt to them and to ensure their happiness. You need to establish a very strong bond and good rapport with your capybara so that the capybara wants to do what you ask. Even then, although the capybara may understand perfectly what you are asking them to do, they will only comply if it suits them.

Marvin and Elizabeth have ripped out all their carpets. The largest room in the house has been given over to the capybaras and is covered in hay which provides good traction for capybara feet and a soft nesting area to rest on. There are two large bales of hay for Romeo and Tuff’n to eat.

Capybaras are herd animals and will expect the human they have bonded with to remain with them at all times. They get very stressed and anxious if this human leaves the home. Therefore if you have to go out to work or you need to enjoy a busy social life, please do not even consider having a capybara.

Capybaras are exceptionally social, gregarious herd animals. They become extremely distressed if left on their own. In the wild if a member of their herd became separated it would mean almost certain death.

Capybaras are exceptionally social, gregarious herd animals. They become extremely distressed if left on their own. In the wild if a member of their herd became separated it would mean almost certain death.

Some of the issues you will face include: i) Ensuring the capybaras have access to enough grass. It is far better for their teeth for them to graze, than for you to provide them with ready cut grass; ii) Providing access to a pool which is large enough for them to swim in and sanitised in a way that will not harm the capybara (see my two blogs on swimming pool size and sterilisation, links given below); iii) Placing electrical/power cords out of reach of the capybara; iv) Making sure there is nothing a capybara, especially a baby capybara, can crawl under and hide out of reach (when a baby capybara first arrives at a new home it may well be frightened and try to escape from you).

As Marvin and Elizabeth say with regard to living with a capybara: “Often it’s the little things or something you might not think would hurt them, that you have to look out for. Capybaras are not designed to live in a house. Everything is dangerous to them. We as humans have to look ahead and make it as safe as possible. This is a learning experience for all of us”.

A capybara in a pen would be very unhappy. It would not be getting the social attention it needs, and capybaras are amongst the most social animals I have ever met. In the wild their territory extends over many hectares (average size of territory in the wild is 5 – 16 hectares but can be much larger). To be confined in a cage of 100 ft.², (one Internet site suggests this size pen is appropriate!) would be like a prison. Capybaras don’t like barriers or boundaries.

Capybaras practice cecotrophy. This can get a little messy and you may find small amounts of cecotropes on your bed, sofa etc. The capybara diet is highly fibrous and nutritionally low in value.  Cecotrophy allows the capybara to digest more nutrients from an otherwise low nutrient diet and maximise the absorption of protein. The 'cecotrophy' excreta is different in composition to the usual oval shaped faeces, and contains up to 37% more protein and 30% less fibrous material, depending on the diet. Capybaras most often practice cecotrophy in the early morning hours when protein content is highest.

Capybaras practice cecotrophy. This can get a little messy and you may find small amounts of cecotropes on your bed, sofa etc.
The capybara diet is highly fibrous and nutritionally low in value. Cecotrophy allows the capybara to digest more nutrients from an otherwise low nutrient diet and maximise the absorption of protein. The ‘cecotrophy’ excreta is different in composition to the usual oval shaped faeces, and contains up to 37% more protein and 30% less fibrous material, depending on the diet. Capybaras most often practice cecotrophy in the early morning hours when protein content is highest.

3. Are they like a cat or a dog?

No.   Capybaras are wild animals, they are not domesticated. Unlike cats and dogs they have not had more than 10,000 years of domestication in which to adapt to living with humans. There are people who feel that it is unkind to keep an exotic animal as a pet.

Capybaras are highly intelligent and very sophisticated emotionally. They will plan and strategise behaviours in order to get their way. If capybaras are frustrated or dissatisfied they may defecate on the carpet or in other inappropriate areas. They may pout or throw fits. They may well bite you.

Capybaras have very impressive, razor sharp teeth.  They can do a lot of harm and inflict a very painful bite if they choose to.

Capybaras have very impressive, razor sharp teeth. They can do a lot of harm and inflict a very painful bite if they choose to.

 

4. Are Capybaras Dangerous?   Do they bite?

Capybaras are very territorial and hierarchical. I know of many capybaras who have bitten the humans they live with because of territorial or hierarchical issues which their human did not have the skill, aptitude or knowledge to resolve.

If they are left alone they will become very stressed and unhappy which can lead to bad behaviour and biting. I know of too many capybaras who were living in unhappy circumstances and resorted to biting to express their unhappiness. A capybara bite can be very serious as they have razor sharp teeth.

Our video: Even the Most Sweet Natured Capybara Can Turn Aggressive 甘い性格のペットカピバラは攻撃的になる
Romeo is the most fantastic Capybara as anyone who has seen the videos of Romeo kissing Elizabeth Ojeda-Reeder Romeo-Tuffn will realise. But capybaras are wild animals and you never know how your actions might play out in the mind of a wild animal. It’s too easy to show how incredibly adorable capybaras are. I’ve seen a couple of blogs lately suggesting capybaras make great pets. This is absolute rubbish and very irresponsible. Capybaras need an incredible amount of love, time and commitment. Very few people would be able to give this. Too many capybaras get rejected as they get bigger and older and end up in refuges or die prematurely.

There is an awful lot of misinformation and inaccurate information about capybaras on the Internet.

 

Capybaras love to roll in the mud. It is an essential activity for the health of their skin. Although you may try to keep them out of the house until they have been washed, capybaras are very clever and devious at finding a way into your pristine house. Another reason not to have carpets.

Capybaras love to roll in the mud. It is an essential activity for the health of their skin. Although you may try to keep them out of the house until they have been washed, capybaras are very clever and devious at finding a way into your pristine house. Another reason not to have carpets.

 

5. How much does IT cost?

When considering the cost of living with a pet capybara, you will need an exotic pet vet who is experienced in looking after capybaras. Exotic pet vets are expensive. If you do not follow the right diet you will have health problems and tooth problems. The vet and dental bills will pile up.

Capybara teeth keep growing and need to be kept in check by eating coarse food. In the wild the capybara’s diet consists of wild grasses, some sages and aquatic plants, and bark. Many capybaras chew on twigs or stones to keep their teeth in check. You should follow this diet as closely as possible as capybaras digestion has evolved over 15 million years for this diet.

Video: Adorable Clever Capybara Knows How to Keep Her Teeth Healthy:

The correct diet is critically important for a capybara. Due to the way capybaras digest food, hindgut fermentation, they should not be fed sweet things, even sweetcorn. “What Should I Feed My Pet Capybara?”: https://capybaraworld.wordpress.com/2013/02/11/what-should-i-feed-my-pet-capybara/

If you have a male capybara the cost of neutering will be about $700.

Capybaras need sun for the health of their bones. In the wild they live outside, of course, and are exposed to sun throughout the day. Several pet capybaras have suffered very serious problems with their bones as a result of being kept inside. One young capybara has bones which are in such a poor state that his vet has advised he should be put down.

El Torro Romeo. Every day Romeo and Tuff'n go to the park to graze for 2 or 3 hours. Capybaras' digestive system has evolved over more than 15 million years for a diet of grasses. In the wild capybaras spend between 31% (in the wet season) and 42% (in the dry season) grazing. If they do not get the right diet, with plenty of course material, they may get life-threatening problems with their teeth. They should never be given sweet foods or junk food. Photo by Marvin Reeder

El Torro Romeo.
Every day Romeo and Tuff’n go to the park to graze for 2 or 3 hours. Capybaras’ digestive system has evolved over more than 15 million years for a diet of grasses. In the wild capybaras spend between 31% (in the wet season) and 42% (in the dry season) grazing.
If they do not get the right diet, with plenty of course material, they may get life-threatening problems with their teeth. They should never be given sweet foods or junk food.
Photo by Marvin Reeder

6. Are they potty trained?

Baby capybaras are very trainable without giving treats. They respond very well to the reward of being told “Good Boy/Girl” by the human they are attached to. However as they grow older they very often begin to mark their territory with their morillo and anal gland, using urine and faeces.

They defecate on average every 2 hours. That means you will be cleaning the potty pan at least 10 times a day if not more. This is a messy and unpleasant task.

Romeo Marking His Territory (with urine). It is natural for capybaras to mark their territory. It would be cruel to prevent them from fulfilling their natural behaviour. They never asked to be your companions and live in a house designed for humans. Most people would not be prepared to alter their lifestyle to ensure the happiness of their exotic pet. For this reason they really shouldn't consider keeping a capybara as a pet.

Romeo Marking His Territory (with urine). It is natural for capybaras to mark their territory. It would be cruel to prevent them from fulfilling their natural behaviour. They never asked to be your companions and live in a house designed for humans.
Most people would not be prepared to alter their lifestyle to ensure the happiness of their exotic pet. For this reason they really shouldn’t consider keeping a capybara as a pet.

Other things to consider:

Capybaras understand many words and phrases. You need to be the sort of person who is in tune with animals and able to communicate with animals in a respectful and loving way.

Capybaras are exceedingly cute, perhaps even more so when they are babies. However adult capybaras will take over the house. They are exceptionally smart and opportunistic. You will find yourself feeling bad that you haven’t made their accommodations better so as to fit in with their lifestyle.

Please see our video: What Capybaras Do When No One Is Looking カピバラアクション。誰も見ていない。

Romeo doesn’t like the smell of the furnishings especially after they’ve been washed. He needs to make the smells more interesting by marking (using urine and sometimes faeces – you can see the stains on the carpet from the faeces) them. And since there are 2 male capybaras he needs to establish his territory by marking. This should make you think twice about having a pet capybara! Capybaras have not evolved over millions of years to live in homes. Unlike dogs and cats who have had over 10,000 years of domestication in which to adapt to living with humans, capybaras’ natural lifestyles should be respected if they come and live with you. After all they never asked to be your companions. Fortunately Romeo and Tuff’n live in a home with a family who understand their needs, and understand that their needs must be paramount.

                                                                                                                                                         ********************
For more information on keeping a capybara safe and healthy please read my blogs listed below:

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

A) The correct diet is critically important for a capybara. Due to the way capybaras digestive food, hindgut fermentation, they should not be fed sweet things, even sweetcorn. “What Should I Feed My Pet Capybara?”: https://capybaraworld.wordpress.com/2013/02/11/what-should-i-feed-my-pet-capybara/
B) Protect Your Capybaras and Guinea Pigs from Power Cords and Electric Cables:
https://capybaraworld.wordpress.com/2013/06/29/protect-your-capybaras-and-guinea-pigs-from-power-cords-and-electric-cables-%e9%9b%bb%e6%ba%90%e3%82%b3%e3%83%bc%e3%83%89%e3%81%a8%e9%9b%bb%e6%b0%97%e3%82%b1%e3%83%bc%e3%83%96%e3%83%ab%e3%81%8b/

C) A male capybara kept as a pet will almost certainly need to be neutered between the ages of 4 and 6 months. This is costly at about $700, but also very painful and stressful for both the capybara and for you. Please see my blog: Neutering a Pet Capybara. Tuff’n’s Story: “Who Stole My Testicles”.

https://capybaraworld.wordpress.com/2013/07/07/neutering-a-pet-capybara-tuffn
s-story-who-stole-my-testicles-%E3%83%9A%E3%83%83%E3%83%88%E3%81%AE%E3%82%AB
%E3%83%94%E3%83%90%E3%83%A9%E3%82%92%E5%8E%BB%E5%8B%A2-%E3%83%AA%E3%83%88/

 

E) Please see my blog which gives information about the dangers to capybaras of letting capybaras use your swimming pool. I also give information about the best system to use to clean the water in your swimming pool, with minimal use of chlorine, which would not be good for the capybaras:

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/
F) Pet Capybara Pool Size. What Size Pool Does My Capybara Need?:
https://capybaraworld.wordpress.com/2013/10/07/pet-capybara-pool-size-what-size-pool-does-my-capybara-need/

G) How to Look after a Pet Capybara – The Capybaras Will Tell You Everything You Need to Know
https://capybaraworld.wordpress.com/2013/03/30/how-to-look-after-a-pet-capybara-the-capybaras-will-tell-you-everything-you-need-to-know/

H) Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Capybaras. Capybara facts and information: https://capybaraworld.wordpress.com/2014/03/29/capybara-facts-and-information-%e3%82%ab%e3%83%94%e3%83%90%e3%83%a9%e3%81%ae%e4%ba%8b%e5%ae%9f%e3%81%a8%e6%83%85%e5%a0%b1/

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One thought on “Pet Capybara FAQs. The Questions People Always Ask.

  1. Pingback: A Pet Capybara: Should I Have One? | capybaraworld

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