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.


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


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:

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.


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


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.


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.


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 .


  • 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



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



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:


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.


















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.


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.



How to Pet a Capybara. Capybara Erogenous Zones: The Parts of the Body Where Capybaras Love to Be Petted. カピバラをマッサージする方法 Как домашнее животное водосвинку

Capybaras are the most responsive animals I have ever encountered. They love to be petted and their response is overwhelming. Their hair rises (pilo erection), they start to sing (capybaras make the most beautiful sounds and vocalisations) and they roll over on their backs with a look of complete ecstasy on their faces.

These are the places on their bodies which are most responsive to petting:

Capybaras love to be petted near their anal pocket. Capybaras have the cleanest bottoms as their anus and reproductive organs are hidden inside their anal pocket and when they defecate their faeces is expelled through their anal tube so their bottoms are completely clean. Also since they spend a lot of time in water they are very clean animals. I personally think they are much cleaner than humans.

NWN Fluffy Momiji 219 24 Aug 2014

The soles of their feet are very sensitive, the hind feet slightly more so than their front feet. They love to have the soft pad behind the toes and the toes rubbed. One capybara I know goes into a trance when you rub the soft pad behind his toes.

The muscles of their buttocks, on either side of the cloaca are very responsive to massage.

Just behind where their forelegs meet their bodies is another area they love having rubbed. One capybara I know goes into a trancelike state of ecstasy when this area is rubbed. Just in front of where their hind legs meet their bodies they love having rubbed as well.

When you pet a capybara you should rub its skin pushing the hair in the opposite direction to the way their hair grows, and in the opposite direction to the way you would pet a cat or dog. Some capybaras like to be petted very vigourously. Some capybaras may even like you to use your fingernails as if you were scratching him/her. Other capybaras hate to be petted vigourously. Some capybaras respond to even the lightest touch as you gently disturb the hair on their backs or other parts of the body. Once a capybara gets to know you and enjoys the way you pet him/her, he/she may react to your presence even before you touch him/her in anticipation of the forthcoming pleasure. One friend wriggles her fingers in a petting motion to indicate to the two capybaras she lives with that she is about to pet them, and their hair rises in blissful anticipation.

In the wild capybaras often go into this blissful state with their hair raised when birds “groom them” looking for ticks. The touch of the bird’s feet and beak create a very pleasurable sensation for the capybara. Capybaras in captivity often respond in this way to the touch of other animals brushing against their bodies or nuzzling and nibbling them. Pet capybaras often respond in this way to pet dogs, or other pet animals.

How to Make a Baby Capybara Very Happy 赤ちゃんカピバラをとても幸せにする方法 Zabon’s male baby who has inherited his father, Kona’s, love of being petted.  Kona is the most responsive capybara I have ever met;  he loves being petted.  Kona came from a petting zoo in Osaka but sadly at Nagasaki Bio Park it is very difficult for visitors to pet him and his life is very stressful.

Some capybaras love to be rubbed under their chins. Most baby capybaras adore being rubbed under the chin. Capybaras nuzzle each other under their chins and even the gentlest touch from another capybara will make a capybara’s hair rise – a blissful experience for the capybara.

Some capybaras adore having their ears rubbed, other capybaras hate this. There are many different ways to rub a capybara’s ears. You can pass the flat of your hand over the ear from front to back, you can gently rub different areas of the ear and where it attaches to the head with your thumb and forefinger.

There is a place on the sides of a capybara’s nose a bit further back than its mouth which is particularly sensitive, especially with baby capybaras. Rubbing or massaging this area may send a capybara into a trancelike state.

Capybaras love to be rubbed on their chests and on their tummies/stomachs/bellies. One capybara I know begins to sing loudly when rubbed on the lower part of his tummy.

Once a capybara is rolling on his back in a state of bliss almost anything you gently do will create a response. I know one baby capybara who likes to be gently prodded with a fork. This probably mimics the feeling a capybara in the wild would have when a bird grooms him eating any ticks with his sharp beak. Capybaras love being groomed in the wild by birds.

Capybaras love the gentle touch of other animals and will roll over in ecstasy very often if another animal gently rubs against him. I know one baby capybara who, in the midst of jostling and fighting with his siblings for a bite of bamboo, will go into a trancelike state with his head raised, his nose pointing to the sky, if one of his brothers or sisters accidentally rubs him under the chin while trying to get the bamboo. This baby capybara will lose all interest in eating and hold his head high waiting for the experience to be repeated.

Some capybaras, particularly baby capybaras, will nuzzle another capybara and rub their chins on the other capybara’s back in the hopes of the second capybara nuzzling him/her in return.

I sometimes use a leash/lead and gently run it over the hair starting near the capybara’s bottom, then moving on to the feet and other favourite places. Most capybaras adore to be petted in this way. I have also found that by very gently rubbing my foot under a capybara who is standing, starting in front of the hind legs and moving up its tummy to the front legs, and then gently rubbing my foot against his/her bottom capybaras go into a state of absolute bliss. If I am behind a standing capybara and gently rub between his/her hind legs, capybaras adore this. One capybara I know went into a trancelike state when I gently rubbed her under the chin with my foot.

It helps if you can judge the mood of a capybara before you start petting. If a capybara is sleepy he/she is unlikely to be responsive.

Every capybara is an individual with different preferences so by watching a capybara’s responses you can work out whether he or she is enjoying what you are doing. The rise and fall of their hair will indicate the degree of pleasure you are giving the capybara. You may need to keep moving between the different areas to create the greatest response. If you just keep rubbing one place the response may begin to die down.

How To Make 3 Capybaras Blissfully Happy  3人のカピバラをとても幸せにする  Choco, Cookie in the middle, Cream nearest the camera.  Cookie was probably the most responsive capybara at Nagasaki Bio Park to being petted. If you stroked her under her chin, she would go into a trance as in this video.

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