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