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.


















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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How To Get To Nagasaki Bio Park. It’s very easy. 長崎バイオパークへの到達方法。

    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.

NWN view from top of hill 2012 Biopark

The View from the Top of the Hill Just before You Enter the Capybara Enclosure.

To see the Enchanting Capybaras.   Of course there are lots of other Animals, many of which you can pet, and Botanical Gardens.

Having a capybara come over to you and sit affectionately in your lap is the most wonderful experience. Many of the capybaras at Nagasaki Bio Park will sit on the laps of visitors these days.


Visiting Nagasaki Bio Park is very easy to achieve.  The Bio Park is set in an area of outstanding natural beauty, The Saikai National Park with over 400 small islands (the Kujukushima Islands and the Gotō Islands).  Hiring a car is expensive, but with GPS you could easily spend a day or two driving around around this scenic area.   Road signs and route numbers are in English.

I would avoid major holidays like Golden Week which runs from about April 29th through May 6th.    This link gives holidays in Japan for 2015:


Nagasaki is an attractive city, with European architectural features from its past as one of the few places in Japan that allowed foreigners to settle.


NWN 2 black baby Aoba on Momiji 2014

Baby Aoba loves to sleep on top of her mother Momiji. Momiji is a fantastic mother. おめでとう!リトル青葉はミイラもみじの上で寝大好き。もみじは素晴らしい母親であります

Brief History of Japan’s Period of Seclusion:

From 1641 to 1853, the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan enforced a policy which it called kaikin. The policy prohibited foreign contact with most outside countries. However, the commonly held idea that Japan was entirely closed is misleading. In fact, Japan maintained limited-scale trade and diplomatic relations with China, Korea , the Ryukuyu Islands and the Netherlands”

Sakoku—seclusion from the outside world.   During the early part of the 17th century, the shogunate suspected that foreign traders and missionaries were actually forerunners of a military conquest by European powers. Christianity had spread in Japan, especially among peasants, and the shogunate suspected the loyalty of Christian peasants towards their daimyō, severely persecuting them. This led to a revolt by persecuted peasants and Christians in 1637 known as the Shimabara Rebellion which saw 30,000 Christians, rōnin, and peasants facing a massive samurai army of more than 100,000 sent from Edo. The rebellion was crushed at a high cost to the shōgun’s army.

Missing photo:  Hinase’s 4 babies spent several hours sleeping as close together as they could possibly be. 

After the eradication of the rebels at Shimabara, the shogunate placed foreigners under progressively tighter restrictions. It monopolized foreign policy and expelled traders, missionaries, and foreigners with the exception of the Dutch and Chinese merchants who were restricted to the man-made island of Dejima in Nagasaki Bay and several small trading outposts outside the country. However, during this period of isolation (Sakoku) that began in 1635, Japan was much less cut off from the rest of the world than is commonly assumed, and some acquisition of western knowledge occurred under the Rangaku system. Russian encroachments from the north led the shogunate to extend direct rule to Hokkaidō, Sakhalin and the Kuriles in 1807, but the policy of exclusion continued.

The end of this period of seclusion was signalled by the arrival of Commodore Perry on July 8, 1853, Commodore Matthew Perry of the United States Navy with four warships, the Mississippi, Plymouth, Saratoga, and Susquehanna, which steamed into Yokohama bay. He requested that Japan open to trade with the West. These ships became known as the kurofune, the Black Ships.

During this period of isolation the culture of Japan developed with limited influence from the outside world.  Japan had one of the longest stretches of peace in history.   It developed thriving cities and castle towns and increased commodification of agriculture and domestic trade.   This, together with increasing literacy and the concomitant print culture, laid the foundations for modernization, even as the shogunate itself grew weak.

WN Crop XXX Doughnut guards babies 29 Sep 2019 016

Donut looks after Zabon’s babies just 10 days old

As a foreigner, you will find most people will go out of their way to be friendly and helpful;  they want you to have a good impression of their country.  You will be surprised how little English is spoken.   My Japanese friends tell me this is because English lessons at school concentrate on written English, so many people may be able to read and write a little English, but fewer will speak it.

It’s worth checking TripAdvisor to get information and other people’s opinions  on planned accommodation, etc.


Missing photo:  Yasushi, who has longer hair then many capybaras, responds to being petted by “pilo-erection” – his hair rises in response to the pleasurable stimulus. 


There are Information Desks, with English speaking staff, at all the main airports (including Nagasaki), and main Bus and Rail stations, including Sasebo.

Most international flights arrive at Tokyo’s Narita Airport.  British Airways flies to both Haneda Airport, which is closer to Tokyo and from which most domestic flights go, as well as Narita.   From Narita there is a straight forward connection to Tokyo Haneda Airport.  There is a Limousine Bus which costs 3000 Yen per adult, and takes between 65 – 85 minutes depending on traffic.  There is also a rail link;  depending on the time of day, you may have to change trains.  Ask at the Information Desk for details.    For the latest transport information regarding travel into Tokyo, and between Narita and Haneda Airports, go to this site:


British Airways has daily flights  between London-Heathrow (LHR) and both Haneda and Narita airports.

You can fly from Haneda to either Nagasaki or Fukuoka.  Nagasaki airport is more convenient for getting to the Bio Park, but there are more flights between Haneda and Fukuoka.

Domestic flights to Nagasaki go from Haneda Airport, Tokyo’s other main Airport.  There are flights throughout the day.  At the time of writing:

JAL has 6 flights a day.   This is their website:


ANA  has 8 flights a day, 4 of which are operated by its partner airline, Solaseed.     This is their website:


The cheapest option is with Skymark, a low cost carrier.  Many of their pilots are Westerners.   http://www.skymark.co.jp/en/

Nagasaki Airport Website has information on how to get to and from the airport: including to Huis Ten Bosch , Nagasaki and Sasebo:


You can also fly from Tokyo Haneda airport to Fukuoka airport; Fukuoka is the main city on the island of Kyushu and there are more flights from Haneda to Fukuoka, than from Haneda to Nagasaki. The journey from Fukuoka airport to Huis ten Bosch is longer and costs more, than from Nagasaki airport to Huis ten Bosch. You will have to take the underground/subway called “chikatetsu” in Japanese, from Fukuoka airport to Hakata station. Then you will need to take the train from Hakata station to Huis ten Bosch; the journey time is 1 hour 50 minutes if you catch the direct train, otherwise you will need to change trains.

Missing photo:  Capybaras Resting on Capuchin island 

The best place to stay is Huis Ten Bosch,  (Huis is pronounced “Haus” in Japan).  There are a number of luxury (4 and 5 star) hotels here including the Lorelai (from which the Bio Park bus goes) which often has the best rates, the Nikko Hotel, and the Okura Hotel.   Holders of a Bio Park pass receive a 20% discount at The Lorelai.   The hotels run a free shuttle bus service to the central bus station, which is by the Okura Hotel.

Hotel Lorelei:  http://www.lorelei.co.jp/index.html

The Okura Hotel is a re-creation of the historic Amsterdam Central Railway Station.  You can’t miss it!  http://www.okura.com/hotels/huistenbosch/index.html

I recommend the Lorelei Hotel. I injured my foot badly and we had to extend our stay by 3 months while it healed. The hotel was incredibly helpful spending over an hour trying to find us an English-speaking doctor (in fact it turns out many of the doctors speak English) and later contacting the Immigration Office in Nagasaki as we had to extend our visa. Everyone working at the Lorelei Hotel was exceptionally helpful and one staff member gave us a huge bag of tangerines, which are in season in Kyushu at this time of year.

If you get a Bio Park Annual Pass you will get a 20% discount on room rates at The Lorelai Hotel.

If you are looking for budget accommodation there are hostels, including one run by the Catholic Church, in Nagasaki.   There is a public bus, bus number 20, which runs between the central bus station in Nagasaki and The Bio Park.  The fare in 2014 was 780 yen one way.  Journey time is approximately one and a half hours.

The Bio Park runs a free bus service from 2 points in Huis Ten Bosch to the Bio Park.    These are:  1) From outside the Lorelai Hotel and 2) from the Bus Station outside the Okura Hotel.   The journey from Huis Ten Bosch to The Bio Park takes about 45 minutes through sometimes stunning countryside and seascapes.  The bus schedule is available from their website:   BioPark access – http://www.biopark.co.jp/en/access/.

The easiest way to get to Huis Ten Bosch from Nagasaki Airport is by bus.  Buses run at frequent intervals.  The Information Desk at Nagasaki Airport will give you all the information you need, including bus timetables, fares etc.

Information about the Japanese Railways (JR) Pass and the Timetable can be found at this website.  It is hosted by a Japanese gentleman who is only too happy to answer in English your questions about the rail system:   http://jprail.com/travel-informations/fare-calculation.html

Japanese Railways  have an excellent timetable at this site:  http://www.hyperdia.com/en/

The nearest railway station to Nagasaki BioPark is Huis Ten Bosch.

NWN capybaras waiting for breakfast

Capybaras sleeping waiting for breakfast. 長崎バイオパークで眠るカピバラ。ミドル、リアビューでどんぐり


There is a bus from Nagasaki Airport to Huis Ten Bosch Bus Station which is in front of the Okura hotel.  From here there are free shuttle buses to other hotels in Huis Ten Bosch

There is also a free shuttle bus from Huis Ten Bosch Bus Station to the Bio Park (see above and below).

By bus from Nagasaki city to Nagasaki Bio Park:

To get to Nagasaki Bio Park from Nagasaki City go to Shinchi bus station (there are several bus stations in Nagasaki so be sure to go to this bus station). Then take a number 1 bus (see next paragraph). There are about 7 buses a day. The Bio Park is open from 10 AM to 5 PM. Not every bus makes the short detour from Futamata to Nagasaki Bio Park: 1 in the morning arrives at approximately opening time at the Bio Park, and one late afternoon which leaves the Bio Park at approximately 16. 50 p.m. (I would be there for 16. 45 p.m.). Otherwise you get off at Futamata, which is a very short 5 minute walk from the Bio Park. The Biopark is clearly signposted at the traffic lights at Futamata. When you get off the bus at Futamata, cross the road at the traffic lights, and continue across the first bridge. Then turn right and cross a second bridge. You will see the entrance to the Bio Park car park to your left. Futamata is tiny.

Please note: not every number 1 bus goes to Futamata. You can get a bus timetable in English from the Information Office at Nagasaki train station (not Nagasaki bus station!) if you happen to be going to Nagasaki train station. At Shinchi bus station ask at the information kiosk which platform the bus to Futamata or Nagasaki Bio Park goes from – not every number 1 bus goes to Futamata/Nagasaki Bio Park. The journey time by bus from Nagasaki Shinchi bus station to Futamata/Nagasaki Bio Park is approximately 1 and half hours if you take the direct bus. It’s a very beautiful drive for much of the way. You should allow plenty of time to find your way around the bus station and connect with your bus. Make sure you have plenty of change. The bus fare in 2018 was approximately 1,100 yen. Board the bus at the door in the middle of the bus, and take a ticket. You pay on reaching your destination when you exit at the front of the bus beside the driver.

The bus back from the Bio Park is the number 20. You can catch this bus at the Bio Park; it leaves at approximately 16. 50 p.m. (bus times do change from year to year so check the times. The Bio Park can give you an up-to-date timetable for the journey from Nagasaki Bio Park back to Nagasaki city). You can also catch bus number 20 from outside the supermarket at the red sign. There are many more buses from here, at the supermarket in Futamata, to Nagasaki city than from the Bio Park.

If you are planning to travel round Kyushu, there is more information about Long Distance Bus Routes in Kyushu at this site:   http://www.rakubus.jp/english/

* When you get on the bus, greet the driver by saying “Onegai shimasu.”   Then, thank the driver by saying “Arigatou gozaimashita” when getting off the bus.
In the Flower Dome

In the Flower Dome


The best place to stay is Huis Ten Bosch,  (Huis is pronounced “Haus” in Japan).  There are a number of luxury (4 and 5 star) hotels here including the Lorelai (from which the Bio Park bus goes) which often has the best rates, the Nikko Hotel, and the Okura Hotel.   Holders of a Bio Park pass receive a 20% discount at The Lorelai.   The hotels run a free shuttle bus service to the central bus station, which is by the Okura Hotel.

Hotel Lorelei:  http://www.lorelei.co.jp/index.html

The Okura Hotel is a re-creation of the historic Amsterdam Central Railway Station.  You can’t miss it!  http://www.okura.com/hotels/huistenbosch/index.html

I  recommend the Lorelei Hotel. I injured my foot badly and we had to extend our stay by 3 months while it healed. The hotel was incredibly helpful spending over an hour trying to find us an English-speaking doctor (in fact it turns out many of the doctors speak English) and later contacting the Immigration Office in Nagasaki as we had to extend our visa. Everyone working at the Lorelei Hotel was exceptionally helpful and one staff member gave us a huge bag of tangerines, which are in season in Kyushu at this time of year.

If you get a Bio Park Annual Pass you will get a 20% discount on room rates at The Lorelai Hotel.

If you are looking for budget accommodation there are hostels, including one run by the Catholic Church, in Nagasaki.

Where to Eat in Huis Ten Bosch:

Lorelei Hotel Restaurant. I would recommend the restaurant at the Lorelei Hotel which serves both Japanese and Western food. The hotel restaurant has an excellent buffet with an extensive choice of dishes, both Japanese and Western. It is excellent value.

Huis Ten Bosch is the setting for a theme park in Nagasaki Prefecture which features many buildings built in the traditional architectural style of the Netherlands.  There are hotels, museums, shops and restaurants, canals and windmills.  Huis Ten Bosch itself may not be of great interest to Westerners, other than for its convenient location with accommodation and transport connections to The Nagasaki Bio Park.  It is named after Huis Ten Bosch one of the three official residences of the Dutch Royal Family located in The Hague, in the Netherlands.


African Crowned Crane

Spectacular Grey Crowned Crane At Nagasaki Bio Park ( It is the national symbol of Uganda)

Here is an entertaining video of the Tapirs cavorting in their pond during a thunderstorm:       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oDOeN-mxYDY

The Hashimoto Hotel, is only a 10 mins drive from the Bio Park, near the coast in a beautiful area.  However, I have not found an English language website to book this.      Tel: +81-959-28-0011      Location on Google maps:     https://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&q=33.00143,129.730157&z=13

There is also a Minshuku (like a B&B but with dinner as well.   Yoshino (guesthouse)   Tel:  +81-959-27-1200   Location on Google maps:  https://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&q=32.994989,129.754345&z=13

A cheaper option is to stay in Sasebo (which has an American Military Base) at the Toyoko Inn right by the train station.  However this increases your daily travelling time by at least one and a half hours, and is only worth considering if you are planning to visit the Bio Park for many, many days!    (We visited every day for a month, I found observing the capybaras social interactions fascinating, and of course I loved petting them).  For most people Huis Ten Bosch or Nagasaki are the best places to stay .   If you do stay in Sasebo you can buy a monthly rail pass, we organised this at the ticket office at Sasebo Station, where English is s spoken.

If you are looking for budget accommodation there are hostels, including one run by the Catholic Church, in Nagasaki.   There is a public bus which runs between the central bus station in Nagasaki and The Bio Park.

NWN flamingos Biopark 2012

Flamingos at Nagasaki Bio Park

We spent our first 3 nights at The Chisun Inn near Nagasaki airport, while we got onto local time, as it is much cheaper than Huis Ten Bosch.  The hotel is actually in Omura and we had lovely views over beautiful Omura Bay.   Rooms can be small in non-luxury hotels.  There is a large supermarket just across the road.  (You can sometimes get reduced sushi at about 6 pm!)  There is no public transport to the Chisun Inn, but it is a short 10 minute taxi ride, costing 1300 Yen.   3 men helped organise our taxi and lift our 4 heavy bags.   The Japanese tend to travel very light, so we felt quite conspicuous with our excessive baggage.   The Chisun Inn is part of the Solare Hotels Group.


Accommodation in Japan can be expensive.  If you are travelling around Japan the 2* Toyoko Inn chain, is good value.   The hotels are usually very close to train stations, though no less attractive for that.  Rooms are small by western standards.  Some of the hotels have very thin walls.  We always travel with a Marpac ‘white noise’ machine, so for us noise was not such a problem. There is a Toyoko Inn near Haneda (2 actually side by side) which is probably the best value place to stay near the airport.  The staff at the hotels we stayed in spoke some English.  In Sasebo (at the Toyoko Inn) we had tasty, free Japanese breakfasts and free wifi.   http://www.toyoko-inn.com/eng/

NWN Wallaby surprised how soft fur

A Wallaby at Nagasaki Bio Park. I was surprised how soft their fur is. You can mingle in their enclosure and pet them

Nagasaki Bio Park

Information on how to get to the Bio Park from a number of locations including Nagasaki and Fukuoka, by bus, train or car can be found at the Bio Park website:

BioPark access:    http://www.biopark.co.jp/en/access/

This site includes information and the timetable for the free Bio Park Shuttle Bus from/to Huis Ten Bosch.

The Bio Park runs a free bus service from 2 points in Huis Ten Bosch to the Bio Park.    These are:  1) From outside the Lorelai Hotel and 2) from the Bus Station outside the Okura Hotel.   The journey from Huis Ten Bosch to The Bio Park takes about 45 minutes through sometimes stunning countryside and seascapes.

Reservations should be made using the email address listed, or by telephone.  When we visited in August the bus was rarely full.  I had the impression people only booked up a few days in advance if that.  You might well be able to make a last minute reservation except at holiday times.  Weekends are busiest, with Sunday being the busiest day.   Weekdays are much nicer;  you might well get the capybaras all to yourself!

This is the countryside at the entrance to Nagasaki Bio Park with this beautiful Japanese house. I wonder who lives there, just a few minutes walk from the Capybaras? The photo doesn't do justice to how pretty and rural the area is.

This is the countryside at the entrance to Nagasaki Bio Park with this beautiful Japanese house. I wonder who lives there, just a few minutes walk from the Capybaras? The photo doesn’t do justice to how pretty and rural the area is.

If you would like More Information about Visiting The Nagasaki Bio Park, go to my blog:


Here is a blog I have written about the capybaras at Nagasaki Bio Park. Like humans they are all individuals and have different personalities. And of course like humans you can recognise them by their faces – they all look different. Visiting them is so much more interesting when you know who they are

すべての動物は、個々のです。ちょうど人間のように。喜びははるかに大きいです。カピバラの名前を知っています。カピバラのキャラクターと個性を知ってい ます。あなたははるかにカピバラをお楽しみいただけます。あなたは彼の名前を知らない場合はカピバラを侮辱です。彼の性格。カピバラを認識してください。 彼らはこれを値しま:


Use of Credit Cards

Most ATM’s do not accept foreign credit cards.  Nagasaki Airport has one ATM which does.  Haneda International Terminal (but not the Domestic Terminal) and Narita also have ATM’s which accept foreign credit cards.

Some taxis in major towns do take credit cards, but usually only domestic ones;  these tend to have a sign on the rear left passenger door.   Whenever we tried to use a foreign credit card for a taxi  it was not accepted. You can always try though. Smaller businesses, super markets, restaurants, etc. in rural areas accept cash only. Indeed most of Japan is still cash only outside of the large towns and cities. You will always need to be prepared to be able to settle in cash.   The exceptions are  major hotel chains, rail pass, the gift shop at the Bio Park, and similar.

Another tip is that most large Post Offices have an international ATM in them with English instructions.


McDonalds have free wifi if you get desperate.  There is also free wifi at Haneda Airport, depending where you sit.

Video Links:

There is nothing as magical as 14 Capybara singing (eeping) in unison. This chorus goes on for up to half an hour or longer.  I’ve tried to capture some of this magic in this short video. One person who has seen the video said “This sounds make me happier!” :    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Z6o5DC3–A

If you want to see what a blissfully happy Capybara looks like when he is being petted, these 2 give an idea of how enjoyable petting a capybara is:



A couple of videos showing just how playful, and amusing to watch ,Capybaras can be:   (In the first video most of the action happens after about 1 min. 8 secs)



If you would like to see more Videos about Capybaras, go to Capybara World on Youtube:  http://www.youtube.com/user/rangdaaaa?feature=results_main