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

Romeo and Tuff'n Playing at the Bottom of Their Pool

Romeo and Tuff’n Playing at the Bottom of Their Pool

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.

Romeo Rests on the Swimming Pool Steps

Romeo Rests on the Swimming Pool Steps

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.

Yasushi Loves Being Nuzzled. He and his female admirers at Nagasaki Bio Park have a huge pond to play in.

Yasushi Loves Being Nuzzled. He and his female admirers at Nagasaki Bio Park have a huge pond to play in.

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.

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.


Little Tuff'n Gains an Advantage over Bigger Romeo By Standing on the Step above Him

Little Tuff’n Gains an Advantage over Bigger Romeo By Standing on the Step above Him

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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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

 

 

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Marvin and Elizabeth have asked me to write this blog to warn people who live with capybaras of the  potential health risks to a capybara if he or she is swimming in a chlorinated swimming pool primarily designed for human use.

The first danger is from the chemicals used to chlorinate the water in the pool and kill off dangerous bacteria.  Chlorine can be harmful to capybaras in a number of different ways.  Therefore the amount of chlorine used should be kept to the lowest possible level; see information below.

The second danger is that the water in the swimming pool may not be sufficiently fresh and pure.

The dangers are compounded by the effects of evaporation wherein the concentration of chemicals and impurities builds up over time. This is called an Accumulative Effect.

One capybara became listless and weak as a result of swimming in a chlorinated pool. He lost his appetite and blood began to trickle from his nose. The vet diagnosed chlorine in the swimming pool as being responsible for his deteriorating condition. He made a fairly rapid recovery once he stopped swimming in chlorine.

A capybara will drink the water in the swimming pool thereby imbibing any toxins and chemicals that might be harmful. The chemicals which are designed to kill off the dangerous bacteria in the pool water may also kill off the beneficial bacteria in the capybaras’ gut leading to digestive problems.

In the case of Romeo and Tuff’n, Marvin and Elizabeth were finding that they had to resort to giving the capybaras Bene-Bac on an increasingly frequent basis. Marvin and Elizabeth monitor Romeo and Tuff’n’s stools to assess their health. If the stools are individual, capsulated olives, that is a good sign. If the stools become softer and sausage shaped this could be a sign of potential ill health.

In Marvin’s words: “we were inadvertently slowly poisoning Romeo and Tuff’n”.

Romeo and Tuff’n never defecate in the swimming pool.

021 used in blog swimming pool health risks

Marvin and Elizabeth have resolved the problem to their satisfaction by completely draining the swimming pool and installing the following two pool filter systems, which are designed to destroy bacteria and control algae using a formula that is low in chlorine, relying on minerals instead:

The Name of this filter is Nature 2 SP http://www.zodiacpoolsystems.com/

The Name of this filter is Pool RX Mineral Unit:   http://www.poolrx.com/

They will also be draining the swimming pool once a year in order to ensure that the pool water is reasonably fresh.

The cost of the filters is approximately $150. The cost of changing the water in your swimming pool once a year is unlikely to be more than $100, I am told.

Marvin tells me that before they switched to the new water filtering system and changed the water in the swimming pool, which he reckons was several years old, Romeo and Tuff’n had not been feeling particularly well and their tummies were swollen. This effect was most noticeable on a Monday, as Romeo and Tuff’n spend more time in the swimming pool over the weekends. Romeo’s skin had become dry and flaky and he was scratching more often than any other capybara I have seen. Now their skin and fur is back to normal, as are their poohs.

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. Romeo and Tuff’n never defecate in the swimming pool.

 

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 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 sufficiently large, many people would say.

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.

If the capybaras have a dedicated pool and are not swimming in the pool that they share with the humans, the following information might be useful:

One friend on the East Coast who has two capybaras, gave me the following information:  “Chlorine isn’t great for anyone’s health but it’s better than fecal contamination. Zoos use it in the marine mammal pools and possibly also in the bears’ pool and in some other animals’ pools.  Public swimming pools are supposed to be kept at 3 parts chlorine per million, and this is the recommended level for home pools. Because our capybaras use their pool so often and also drink the water in it, we aim for 1 ppm and we change the water about once a month. We also do not use a floating chlorine tab, like most home pools use. We pour in chlorine (ie. we ‘shock’ the pool) as we think the pool needs it (this is usually done overnight to allow time for the pool to be sanitized and for the chemicals to dissipate), using the filter pump to circulate the chemicals. The capybaras are not allowed back into the pool until the chlorine isn’t as strong. If the capybaras are not defecating in their pool (they rarely defecate in the pool but very occasionally they do) then we barely treat the pool. Just enough to compensate for skin and body oil contamination. During the summer, with algae and pooh and heat, we practically treat every night. However we don’t stabilize the chlorine, so much of that will dissipate into the atmosphere (chlorine that binds with contaminates will stay in the pool and build up). We also have the cattle trough which they use and it only has fresh water. It is pretty standard practice in the summer, to see them leave the pool and go rinse off in the fresh water.  The reason the capybaras rinse in the fresh water may have as much to do with the pH level in the water, as with the chlorine level.

Here is some information about the size of pool a capybara needs:

https://capybaraworld.wordpress.com/2013/10/07/pet-capybara-pool-size-what-size-pool-does-my-capybara-need/

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Protect Your Capybaras and Guinea Pigs from Power Cords and Electric Cables. 電源コードと電気ケーブルからあなたのカピバラとモルモットを保護します。

These beautifully behaved capybaras would never dream of chewing on a cable or power cord. Don't they look so innocent...

These beautifully behaved capybaras would never dream of chewing on a cable or power cord.
Don’t they look so innocent…

If you haven’t managed to train your capybara, or guinea pig, not to chew power cords and electric cables, here are three ideas to protect your beloved animal.

1.  You can slit a hosepipe and hide the electric cable/power cord inside. If your capybara/guinea pig does decide to chew he won’t come into contact with the electric cable so he won’t be electrocuted. See photos below.

2. In some countries you can buy plastic tubing, to feed power cords through, which would provide some protection.

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

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

 

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

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

 

3.  Smear neat washing-up liquid on the cables. This tastes horrible and when your beloved capybara/guinea pig starts trying to chew on the cable his saliva will dissolve the dried washing-up liquid and create a most unpleasant taste. Your capybara/guinea pig will stop chewing immediately (hopefully).   After a few unpleasant encounters with the dried washing-up liquid  most capybaras should cease to show any interest in the potentially life-threatening cables.

These two would never dream of chewing on a cable

These two would never dream of chewing on a cable

Of course you will have sensibly placed most of your power cords and electric cables out of reach of your capybara and guinea pig. And hidden those that need to remain at floor level.

You wouldn't want such an incredibly enchanting animal to be electrocuted!

You wouldn’t want such an incredibly enchanting animal to be electrocuted!

You can make life easier for yourself by providing your capybara with the right diet. Romeo and Tuff’n eat Grass, Hay, and Guinea Pig Food. All of these require lots of chewing so they are not inclined to chew cords, cables, furnishings etc.    If they want something to chew they can go to the Hay and Guinea Pig Food which is available 24/7. This diet is also very good for their teeth; capybaras teeth grow continuously and if they are not fed the right diet they may end up with very painful and costly teeth problems.

Eating Hay in the Dining Room. When ever Romeo or Tuff'n want to chew on something they have a choice of Hay or Guinea Pig Food; both require a lot of chewing

Eating Hay in the Dining Room. Whenever Romeo or Tuff’n want to chew on something they have a choice of Hay or Guinea Pig Food; both require a lot of chewing

(Information courtesy of Marvin and Elizabeth)

 

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

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

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

 

Romeo sleep on the bed

Romeo asleep on the bed

 

 “Mouth Traps”

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

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

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

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Poor little Romeo
Photo by Elizabeth and Marvin

Romeo's Broken Leg

Romeo’s Broken Leg

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

No Capybara Should Ever Have To Sleep Alone.   Snuggling and sheltering from the rain. When each baby arrives she tries to push into the middle of the group for maximum warmth!, Jostling and waking up all the others. Hinase's babies, Aoba and Butter at Nagasaki BIO PARK

No Capybara Should Ever Have To Sleep Alone.  In this photo you can see how capybaras like to snuggle together when they sleep.  When each baby arrives she tries to push into the middle of the group for maximum warmth!, Jostling and waking up all the others. Hinase’s babies,  Ricky, Ryoko, Keiko and Sumera together with Aoba and Butter at Nagasaki BIO PARK

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

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

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

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

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

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

Little Tuff'n sleeping on his bed of hay

Little Tuff’n sleeping on his bed of hay

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

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

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

Romeo's Chipped Tooth

Romeo’s Chipped Tooth

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

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

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

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