What Happened to Ryoko Capybara and How Has That Affected Her Position in The Hierarchy? 涼子さんカピバラは8月16日木曜日の午後に部分的な流産に苦しんでいますか?

                        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.

In the afternoon of Thursday, August 16, 2018 Ryoko and her sister Keiko were sitting beside the entrance gate to the capybara enclosure hoping to escape. Ryoko is the biggest capybara in the herd and her sister Keiko is by far the smallest. They are from the same litter and for the first few months they were a similar size. Because of her small size it is much easier for Keiko to escape which she frequently does. The keepers are quite happy to let her stay outside the enclosure grazing as she needs to put on weight and she never strays far.

Ryoko was heavily pregnant having mated with Kona, the breeding male capybara, at both the beginning and the end of April. I was told the keepers did not think she had become pregnant at the beginning of April. The gestation period for a capybara is generally considered to be five months, although some people believe it is four and a half months.

On seeing that Keiko had escaped the keeper, quite unnecessarily, ran over to the gate at great speed. This alarmed Ryoko who ran as fast as she could to the edge of the pond and sat there looking very upset. She then lay down and experienced three violent spasms. I was very worried that Ryoko had miscarried and when we arrived the following morning I was expecting to see her in a distressed state.

Missing photo

Ryoko gave birth on September 5. She gave birth to 3 pups, one was already dead, another was very weak and died shortly after. Only little Ryosuke survived.  Ryoko is the largest capybara in the herd and was in her prime at four and a half years old. In the wild capybaras reach their prime reproducing age at 4 years and give birth to 4.2 pups on average per litter. Capybaras can give birth to up to 8 pups in one litter.

As the largest capybara in the herd, and in her prime, it might be reasonable to assume that Ryoko is also the healthiest and fittest. I had expected Ryoko to give birth to at least 3 healthy pups and very possibly 4 or 5. I believe the trauma she experienced on August 16 may have caused a partial miscarriage in which the umbilical cord attaching the weak pup (who only lived a short time) to his mother’s uterus was compromised.

  Missing photo

Being heavily pregnant for the first time must be stressful. I was also worried about an additional, unnecessary stress that Ryoko was subjected to. From about the second week in August Ryoko was being separated from the herd for 17 hours a day even though I was told she was not expected to give birth until about the middle of September at the earliest. (On one occasion Ryoko was put in her separate enclosure over an hour and a half early, presumably because the keeper on duty wanted to make a quick getaway at the end of her working day. Ryoko never presented a problem being put in her separate enclosure so subjecting her to this extra separation time was quite unacceptable.)

It is very stressful for a member of this highly social species to be separated from the herd and there is a danger that separation will undermine a capybara’s position in the hierarchy and leave her vulnerable to being attacked. On our last day Maple was aggressive to Ryoko and Ryoko swam away giving the appeasement vocalisation. Maple would never have done this before Ryoko was separated. Ryoko is number three in the hierarchy and Maple is about five in the hierarchy. It is my belief that Ryoko could safely have given birth in the main enclosure as Donguri and Ayu both did. Ryoko is a very intelligent capybara, one of the two most intelligent capybaras in the herd, and I believe she would have found a safe place to give birth.  Obviously once Ryoko gave birth she would have to be separated together with her babies to protect the babies from visitors.

In an email to the chief animal keeper I warned that I thought Ryoko might be in danger of attack because of being separated from the herd for so long. This separation could weaken her place in the hierarchy and leave her vulnerable to aggression from capybaras seeking her place in the hierarchy.

Shortly after giving birth Ryoko suffered a dramatic loss of weight. From a video made at the end of September she appeared to be almost skin and bones. It was heartbreaking to see the largest, fittest capybara in the herd reduced to this. When she was released back into the herd in the main enclosure she was attacked (I have not yet been able to ascertain which capybara or capybaras attacked her). Because of the attack she has had to be separated from the herd once again. In her separate enclosure Ryoko looked extremely stressed and unhappy. Her surviving male pup spends part of every day away from his mother mixing with the capybara herd in the main enclosure. This must have been extremely stressful for Ryoko to be separated from her very young pup.

WN Momiji with bloody nose Maple attack September 4, 2013 149

When Momiji and her babies, Choco, Donut and Ayu’s son Macaroni, rejoined the main herd after 12 weeks of separation before and after she gave birth, Momiji came under constant attack from Maple. It was heartrending to watch poor Momiji. Life was very stressful for her

Researchers in South America have concluded that the dangers of separation for a pregnant female capybara outweigh any possible danger to the pup if the pup is born without the mother being separated from the herd. On my first visit to the capybaras, Fujiko, was separated from the herd at least six weeks before she eventually gave birth. She was put in an enclosure out of sight of the herd which caused a great deal of stress and distress not only to Fujiko but also to members of the herd. Every afternoon her daughters, Ayu and Hinase, would sit by the boundary fence closest to where their mother was, joined by Fujiko’s mother, Donguri, all calling plaintively to her. On some occasions the entire herd would sit here calling to Fujiko.

One afternoon when I was sitting petting Donguri she suddenly stood up and called frantically, then she began to walk over to the boundary fence nearest Fujiko. As we neared the boundary fence Donguri looked up at me appealingly and I realised she wanted me to open the gate so she could be with Fujiko. It broke my heart that I did not have the authority to open the gate and that I could not explain to her how much I wanted to help her but that it was not within my power to do so. Fujiko was moved to an enclosure adjoining the main enclosure after she gave birth and remained there for a further six weeks. In addition to her own two pups, she also nursed Syu and Autumn whose mother, Aki, had died five days after giving birth. When Fujiko returned to the herd she found life very stressful having lost her place in the hierarchy. Seven months later she died.

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Momiji after she was attacked by Maple

In 2013 Momiji found life very stressful when she was separated from the herd before and after giving birth to Choco and Doughnut. She frequently called to the herd. Her mother Donguri came and sat beside the entrance gate to her enclosure for long periods, calling softly to her. When Momiji was reunited with the herd following twelve weeks of separation the very intelligent chief animal keeper put Maple in a separate enclosure during the day for the first few weeks to prevent her from attacking Momiji. After this when Momiji and Maple were in the same enclosure Maple frequently tried to attack Momiji. Maple wanted Momiji’s place in the hierarchy and sensed that the demands of childbirth and nursing her two pups had weakened Momiji. Momiji had lost a lot of weight and was always hungry as I pointed out to the keepers. For some very strange reason there seems to be a reluctance to give a nursing mother extra food.

The demands of giving birth and nursing can undermine the health of a mother if she does not get enough to eat. Capybara babies suckle for four months; the second half of this period of lactation, i.e. the final two months place the heaviest demands on the health and fitness of the mother capybara. Momiji survived in part because of the intelligent intervention of the chief capybara keeper. (Ryoko was given no such protection by the current chief capybara keeper; whoever was attacking Ryoko was not put in a separate enclosure to protect Ryoko.) It also helped that Momiji is very fit and an incredibly strong minded capybara and her mother, Donguri, was leader of the herd. Having Donguri as her mother ensured that Momiji could always share her mother’s food trough.

Missing photo:  Ryoko is always trying to escape. Like Choco she was able to open the gate until they changed the handle, but even now she still tries every day. However, when the chief capybara keeper tried to lure her out of the enclosure for a walk with a huge branch of bamboo, Ryoko was deeply suspicious and refused to go near the gate. She even stopped eating the bamboo she loves rather than follow the chief capybara

The keeper who frightened Ryoko is new and is a very nice person he just needs a little more training. The zookeeper course should teach trainee zookeepers that they must always move amongst the animals in a calm, unhurried way, showing consideration and respect for the animals at all times. This keeper is always rushing, sometimes running, and this always disturbs and sometimes frightens the capybaras.

Missing photo:  On one occasion Marc and I gave Ryoko a few sprigs of bamboo. She looked so happy and sang sweetly for us. Immediately afterwards the chief capybara keeper went over to her with several huge branches of bamboo. As she approached Ryoko stood up nervously, ready to move away quickly if she had to. Ryoko is extremely intelligent and does not trust the chief capybara keeper at all 

Keepers who understand animals would of course instinctively know how to move around the enclosure. They always show respect for the capybaras and move In a calm, relaxed and unthreatening manner. Even when the capybaras escape, keepers who understand animals are always gentle and considerate as they usher the escapees back into their enclosure.

It is imperative that anyone working with animals is able to see the world from the animals’ perspective. This is a fundamental teaching of Animal Welfare Science. Also fundamental to Animal Welfare Science is the knowledge that every behaviour an animal exhibits is meaningful and is the animal’s way of communicating with humans. Animals in captivity must be able to exhibit their natural behaviours, which in the case of capybaras means they should have access to grazing at will and access to a large pond or other body of water as they are semiaquatic. Animals in captivity must also have some control over their lives. Some keepers do not understand this and one keeper uses dog training methods and food to control and manipulate the capybaras in her care. This particularly affects the most senior capybaras in the hierarchy who are already under stress at not being able to fulfil their two most important natural behaviours: to mate and to graze at will. Capybaras are very intelligent and exceptionally sensitive emotionally. They know exactly what this keeper is trying to do and like most rodents species they respond negatively to any effort to control their lives. Capybaras are quite different to dogs who have evolved into a domesticated species over the course of 25,000 years! The result of this unnecessary control and manipulation is extra stress on the herd and capybaras who do not trust the keepers. Ryoko, in particular, is nervous whenever the chief capybara keeper approaches her. This chief capybara keeper should work in the dog section of the zoo.

Pet Capybara FAQs. The Questions People Always Ask

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

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 a watermark.

Please also read my blog:

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

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

A few of the video links are not working, I apologise.

1. What is that?   A capybara.

What is a capybara?  

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

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

Romeo
Romeo
This is the perfect enclosure for a capybara: lots of grass and a large pond. Photo by Martin MurmelTier Hees

2. Do they make a good pet?     NO!

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

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

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

If You Want a Capybara to Sit in Your Lap Go to Nagasaki Bio Park. あなたは好きですか?愛情カピバラ?あなたの上に座って?長崎バイオパークに行きます

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. How much does IT cost?

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

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

6. Are they potty trained?

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

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

   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CvtVm_wN2PY

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

Please also see my blogs:

 

Capybara Diet. Includes Treatments for Dietary Health Issues.

https://capybaraworld.wordpress.com/2021/10/10/capybara-diet-includes-treatments-for-dietary-health-issues-%e6%b0%b4%e8%b1%9a%e9%a3%b2%e9%a3%9f-%e3%82%ab%e3%83%94%e3%83%90%e3%83%a9%e3%83%80%e3%82%a4%e3%82%a8%e3%83%83%e3%83%88/

 

Not the blog below:

2. Protect Your Capybaras and Guinea Pigs from Power Cords and Electric Cables:

https://capybaraworld.wordpress.com/2013/06/29/protect-your-capybaras-and-guinea-pigs-from-power-cords-and-electric-cables-%e9%9b%bb%e6%ba%90%e3%82%b3%e3%83%bc%e3%83%89%e3%81%a8%e9%9b%bb%e6%b0%97%e3%82%b1%e3%83%bc%e3%83%96%e3%83%ab%e3%81%8b/

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

  1. Capybara Health Warning: it might be potentially dangerous to let your capybara swim in a chlorinated swimming pool designed and intended for human use.

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/

  1. Some plants are toxic for capybaras: Capybaras, Beware of Toxic Plants, Chemicals and Poisonous Animals like Scorpions and Snakes. Humans, Remove These from Your Land, Garden and Yard. カピバラに対して毒性である植物。有毒化学物質。危険な動物 – ヘビ、クモ、サソリ

https://capybaraworld.wordpress.com/category/toxic-plants-dangerous-for-capybaras/

6. Capybara Enclosure Design. Husbandry and Welfare of Capybaras in Zoos and Captive Environment

Capybara Enclosure Design. Husbandry and Welfare of Capybaras in Zoos and Captive Environments

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

8. Critical Care for Capybaras. Capybara Health Care. This Could Save the Life of Your Capybara.

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

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

1. What is a capybara?

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

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

2. Do they make a good pet?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Are they like a cat or a dog?

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

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

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

4. Are Capybaras Dangerous?   Do they bite?

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

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

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

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

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

5. How much does IT cost?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6. Are they potty trained?

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

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

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

Other things to consider:

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

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

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

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

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

Please read my blog:

Essential Information If You Already Have a Capybara, Or Are Thinking of Getting a Capybara

These are blogs you might find useful if you are thinking of getting a pet capybara and you want your capybara to live a happy and healthy and long life:

https://capybaraworld.wordpress.com/2021/06/15/a-pet-capybara-should-i-have-one-2/

Pet Capybara FAQs: The Questions People Always Ask

What Should I Feed My Pet Capybara? The Capybara Diet

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

Capybaras Beware of Toxic Plants, Chemicals and Poisonous Animals Like Scorpions and Snakes. Humans Remove These from Your Land, Garden and Yard.

Capybara Health Warning: It Will Be Potentially Dangerous To Let Your Capybara Swim in a Chlorinated Swimming Pool Designed and Intended for Human Use

Protect Your Capybaras and Guinea Pigs from Power Cords and Electric Cables

Critical Care for Capybaras. Capybara Health Care. This Could Save the Life of Your Capybara





A Pet Capybara Should I Have One?

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 a watermark.

I think this will impress you: Capybaras are much more intelligent than most people realise. The ability to conceptualise is a mark of high intelligence. Not every human can conceptualise. However Tuff’n can! Tuff’n works out, in his mind, how to get the ring, which is stuck around his tummy, off.カピバラは、人々が知っているよりもはるかにインテリジェントです。タフンが彼の問題を解決するのを見てください。 水豚比人們知道的要聰明得多。看塔夫解決他的問題 水豚比人們知道的要聰明得多。看塔夫解決他的問題。

Please also see my blogs:

 

Capybara Diet. Includes Treatments for Dietary Health Issues.

https://capybaraworld.wordpress.com/2021/10/10/capybara-diet-includes-treatments-for-dietary-health-issues-%e6%b0%b4%e8%b1%9a%e9%a3%b2%e9%a3%9f-%e3%82%ab%e3%83%94%e3%83%90%e3%83%a9%e3%83%80%e3%82%a4%e3%82%a8%e3%83%83%e3%83%88/

 

Not this blog: What Should I Feed My Pet Capybara?:

Protect Your Capybaras and Guinea Pigs from Power Cords and Electric Cables

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

Capybara Health Warning: It Will Be Potentially Dangerous To Let Your Capybara Swim in a Chlorinated Swimming Pool Designed and Intended for Human Use

Capybaras Beware of Toxic Plants, Chemicals and Poisonous Animals Like Scorpions and Snakes. Humans Remove These from Your Land, Garden and Yard.

Capybara Enclosure Design. Husbandry and Welfare of Capybaras in Zoos and Captive Environment

Critical Care for Capybaras. Capybara Health Care. This Could Save the Life of Your Capybara.

If you get a pet capybara and decide you cannot keep him/her, contact Janice Wolf at Rocky Ridge Refuge in northern Arkansas who has an Animal Sanctuary and has capybaras she has rescued.

I have never met a pet capybara, who is bonded with a human, who is happy. Capybaras bond so intensely, and are so emotionally sensitive, that they suffer greater separation anxiety than any other species, when that human leaves the home, or goes to work in a part of the house or garage to which they are denied access.

For this reason, if you truly care about animals and their welfare, and want to have capybaras in your life, you will ensure that the capybara is bonded with another capybara or animal that is always accessible to the capybara.

I have witnessed too much stress and anxiety in capybaras who are kept as pets and bonded with a human. It is heartbreaking to experience this.

wn-branfere-july-2012-murmel-tier
This is the perfect enclosure for a capybara: lots of grass and a large pond. Photo by Martin MurmelTier Hees

Also, you have to remember that capybaras are herd animals so if they are bonded with a human, that human becomes part of their herd. If a herd member disappears that means he/she is probably dead, eaten by a predator. This increases the pet capybaras anxiety exponentially.

Every person I know who lives with a pet capybara bonded to them has been bitten. The pet capybara views the human as part of the herd and treats them as they would any other herd member. Capybaras can be quite aggressive to each other, but since they have extra thick skin, their bites are not as harmful as when they bite a human, as humans have thinner skin.

You will also need to be a person with discipline. Once the excitement and novelty of living with a capybara wears off, you must be the sort of person who has the discipline to do the work necessary to ensure the health and emotional well-being of a capybara. Some pet capybara “owners” are happy to pay for expensive vet treatment, but may not have the discipline to do things that require time or hard work.

It is essential that your capybara has access to grass. If your garden does not have enough grass you must be prepared to lay down grass that will grow year round and ensure that the lawn is kept in good condition by scarifying and aerating it every winter.  A less satisfactory alternative is to provide fresh vegetables as a major part of the daily diet.

In their natural habitat a capybara’s diet is made up of 100% fresh vegetation. Of this 70% is grasses. Capybaras spend 45% of the day grazing in the dry season and 31% of the day grazing in the wet season. Grazing is a natural capybara activity, so quite apart from the nutritional benefits, it is very important for your capybara to be able to “graze” whenever they want to.

I have spent many years in close/intimate contact with both pet capybaras and capybaras who live as part of a herd with other capybaras.

I Believe that very, very few people would be able to provide the conditions necessary for their capybara to be happy as a pet.

Keeping a capybara as a pet, is nothing like having a pet cat or dog.   Cats and dogs have been domesticated over possibly as long as 35,000 years and have evolved so that they can coexist with humans and still have their emotional and physical needs met.   This is not the case with capybaras, who have evolved over 30 million years to be herd animals and to understand the communications and behaviour they encounter in the wild and from other capybaras.

Levels of the stress hormone cortisol are much higher in some wild animal species kept as pets and bonded with humans than in these species when they are bonded with other members of their own species. From my observations I suspect the same is true with capybaras.

Capybaras are intensely social, herd animals. They are very complex and sophisticated emotionally. They are also highly intelligent, at least as intelligent as the most intelligent dogs.

As herd animals they need a constant companion. If  a capybara’s primary bond is with a human and he becomes separated from that human, the separation anxiety the capybara experiences is far more intense than that of a dog. For this reason if  you care about the capybara’s happiness you must be prepared to be with him/her day and night. Not many people have the time and commitment needed to have a pet capybara.

There is a great deal of misinformation and inaccurate information about capybaras on the Internet.

Our video: Even the Most Sweet Natured Capybara Can Turn Aggressive 甘い性格のペットカピバラは攻撃的になる

Two very important aspects of rodent behaviour have come out of research and from my observations these apply equally to capybaras. Firstly, capybaras NEED to be in control of their lives. This makes them quite different from dogs who will adapt their behaviour to please you. Not many people want a pet that very often will not do what you want him to do.

If you are a control freak do not even think of having a capybara. Capybaras are NOT like dogs, who can be trained to behave in an appropriate way so that they can fit into your family and lifestyle. If you try to train and control a capybara, or indeed any rodent, you will only increase the stress level and anxiety of your captive pet.  Capybaras are very sensitive emotionally and they know when they are being controlled. If you expect to be able to control your pet capybara, your failure to do so, will probably harm, or even destroy, the relationship between you and the capybara.

Secondly, marking their territory is an essential part of capybara behaviour. Leaving a trail of urine where ever they go is a normal social courtesy. Their urine is like a signature or business card. It contains chemical information that communicates an individual’s sex and social status and any health issues the capybara may be experiencing. A capybara’s urine also allows other capybaras to discern genetic relatedness, a process which may have evolved to avoid inbreeding.

Capybaras have not evolved to understand human behaviour. Watching pet capybaras interact with humans I often observe their frustration as they try to understand and make sense of the way their human behaves, and I believe this may be the reason why some capybaras become aggressive from time to time with no apparent warning. If the capybara was bonded with other capybaras he/she would understand their behaviour and not be under stress.

I believe that being bonded with a human is inherently stressful for a capybara.
Romeo is the most fantastic Capybara as anyone who has seen the videos of Romeo kissing his human will realise. But sometimes he becomes aggressive with no prior warning.  I believe that being bonded with a human, whose behaviour he often does not understand can be very stressful for a capybara,  Capybaras are wild animals and you never know how your actions might play out in the mind of a wild animal. It’s too easy to show how incredibly adorable capybaras are. I’ve seen a couple of blogs lately suggesting capybaras make great pets. This is absolute rubbish and very irresponsible. Capybaras need an immense amount of love, time and commitment. Very few people would be able to give this. Too many capybaras get rejected as they get bigger and older and end up in refuges or die prematurely.

No capybara should ever sleep alone at night. A capybara in the wild would have the herd around him at all times. Even subordinate males are tolerated by the alpha male, on the periphery of the herd, as they act as a lookout and emit alarm calls to warn the herd if any danger approaches. (Subordinate males emit more alarm calls than the alpha male or the female capybaras in a wild herd.   Although each subordinate male mates with a female on fewer occasions than the alpha male, the total number of matings of all the subordinate males put together, is greater than that of the alpha male.)

Baby capybaras are incredibly adorable but people should not be seduced into thinking that this makes them suitable as pets:

In the video below:  Four-year-old Butter loves being nibbled by two-month-old Ko, Zabon’s two-month-old baby boy. Adult capybaras particularly love to have their ears nibbled and the babies seem to know this. Butter looks absolutely blissful as she rolls over.

If you are going to keep a pet capybara his/her needs MUST come first. It is potentially cruel to force the capybara into situations that make it anxious or fearful, to satisfy your needs or ego at the expense of the capybara’s happiness.

Capybaras need sun.  There is at least one capybara who lived inside the home in an enclosure and did not get enough, if any, sun. His bones were in a poor condition and his vet believed he should be put down so that he wouldn’t suffer any more.

To live with a pet capybara, you need to be very intelligent, very sensitive emotionally, and you need to understand animals.

Capybara’s natural behaviour includes marking their territory.  This is mostly done with urine, occasionally with faeces.  Not many people can cope with an animal marking its territory in their home.   My friends have removed all the carpets to make cleaning up this urine and faeces easier.  To segregate these very loving herd animals and confine them to a small area of your  home is cruel.  It may also lead to aggressive behaviour as the capybara will be unhappy.

The secret of living with Capybaras is to be sensitive to their body language and vocalisations, they will tell you what they want.   Being sensitive to their needs is essential to creating the necessary bond that will encourage them to want to do what you want them to do.  And to prevent them becoming unhappy and aggressive.

My friends are very strict in adhering to an optimum diet that most closely approximates what a capybara would eat in the wild. This is essential for capybara health and for their teeth.   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.  (See my blog:  ” What Should I Feed My Pet Capybara?”

https://capybaraworld.wordpress.com/2013/02/11/what-should-i-feed-my-pet-capybara/

Romeo and Tuff’n eat grass, hay and guinea pig feed. The hay and Guinea pig feed are available 24/7.   There are two bales of an Orchard Hay and  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.

Romeo and Tuff’n are never fed junk food, candy or table scraps. Romeo can sit on my friend’s lap at the dinner table and he will show no interest whatsoever in the food my friend is eating. If just once my friends had given him a treat from their dinner table he would constantly expect this to happen again.

It is worth noting just how sensitive capybaras are to any change in their routine, or any stress. Their faeces become softer.  And their mood changes.

As is the case with the best informed animal trainers, my friend does not use food as a reward. As the Naval officer in charge of training dogs said to me:  “You should not introduce food into the training process as it creates problems”.  Voice is a much more effective reward and Romeo positively fills with pride when my friend says “Good Boy Romeo”.

Additionally, while it may be easier to get an animal to perform a certain act or trick if it is given food as a reward, unfortunately, the end result is that the capybara will only perform or comply with your request if there is a food treat as a reward. Romeo knows what my friend’s expectations are and he sometimes chooses to behave himself.   My friend’s approval is very important to him.   He is an exceptionally good and well behaved capybara. Another thing I like is that my friend doesn’t ask Romeo to do senseless tricks just for the sake of it. There are plenty of useful things for Romeo to learn without turning him into a circus act.

I mention only Romeo as Tuff’n automatically learns from Romeo what behaviour is expected and appropriate, and therefore seldom needs any lessons from my friend. There were a couple of occasions when Tuff’n wet the bed. These occurred after a long and very tiring day, and perhaps Tuff’n felt too tired to make the effort to go to the “potty room”. On the third occasion my friend picked Tuff’n up, put him on the damp spot, gently pushing his nose down, and said very firmly “No”. He then picked Tuff’n up and carried him to the potty pan. Romeo also gave him a little ‘nose to nose ‘ talk, rubbing noses with him.  Tuff’n never wet the bed again.

Capybaras are capable of learning a surprising number of words. In addition to food related words Romeo knows “inside” and “outside” and “in the house”.  He knows the words “tell me a secret” and “give me a kiss”. And many other words and phrases as well!

In this video,

My friend is playing with Romeo, giving him an outlet for the sparring and play fighting that young capybaras enjoy in the wild. Romeo loves it and it allows him to release any pent-up energy and adrenaline. Romeo knows that ‘Inside’ and ‘In  the house’  mean this is designated as my friend’s territory, where he is the boss Capybara, and where Romeo does not spar.   Outside Romeo can play the boss. My friend always lets Romeo win the sparring contests outside so that Romeo feels that he is a successful and important male capybara.

At 2.07 secs you can hear Romeo clicking his teeth. Capybaras do this as a warning signal. The intention is to avoid a fight by persuading your opponent to abandon his attack and run off.   In the wild relatively few fights break out; the dominant male capybara who is number one in the herd hierarchy will warn the subordinate male, who almost always runs away.

Capybaras are highly intelligent and emotionally very sophisticated and complex. Very few people have the understanding, sensitivity and intelligence to keep them as house pets in a happy, fulfilled and stress free state.

Having two capybaras who are bonded with each other rather than with a human would be much better, as a fellow capybara can supply all the emotional needs that most humans would be unable to meet. However there can sometimes be problems with this due to the hierarchal nature of capybara society. It is usually impossible to keep two male capybaras, even if they are neutered, as their inclination would be to compete for dominance, i.e. fight.

Even with two females there can be dominance problems leading to injuries. One of my friends has two female capybaras who live in a field. The dominant female is often aggressive towards “her friend” and on one occasion inflicted such a severe injury that the exotic vet had to attend to the wound. Several trips to the vet followed which do not come cheap.

Now that Tuff’n is bigger than Romeo he often challenges Romeo leading to frequent minor injuries. Initially Romeo would walk away and try to avoid getting into a fight, knowing that my friend did not want him to bite Tuff’n. Eventually he realised he had to defend himself but Tuff’n’s playful aggression puts Romeo under a lot of stress and may be one of the reasons Romeo becomes aggressive to those humans who are part of his herd.

When I first met Romeo and Tuff’n, it was obvious that Romeo knew he was expected to behave in a friendly manner towards Tuff’n and not be aggressive to him. Romeo seemed to tolerate Tuff’n rather than to like him. There was one amusing scenario out by the pool, where Romeo was sitting in a tub of hot water. Tuff’n seeing Romeo, jumped in the tub to be beside him. Romeo moved to the far side of the tub to get away from Tuff’n.   Tuff’n moved over to be next to Romeo, and Romeo jumped out of the tub!

You can see this behaviour in this video:

Early on in their relationship, Tuff’n realised he had far more in common with Romeo than with the two humans. In fact when Tuff’n arrived my friends heard vocalisations from Romeo that they had never heard before; Romeo and Tuff’n were speaking their own language, even though neither had spent any time with adult capybaras from whom they could have learnt it. Tuff’n started to follow Romeo everywhere, and of course he learnt from Romeo’s behaviour.  Tuff’n shows separation anxiety if he cannot see Romeo, or if they are too far apart.  At least Romeo is always nearby.   Romeo, however, is bonded with humans and his life is much more stressful.

On one occasion Tuff’n came to sit with me on the beanbag for his afternoon nap. When he realised that Romeo was not going to join us, and indeed that he had no idea where Romeo was, he started to panic. He ran as fast as his little legs would carry him in the direction of the bedroom at the far end of the house. As he jumped on the trunk to reach the bed he noticed a lump under the bed covers on the bed, and his relief was palpable as he smelt Romeo’s odour coming from the lump. He then nestled down next to the lump as close as he possibly could (he doesn’t like going under the covers).   You may notice that the “lump” moves very slightly away each time little Tuff’n snuggles up to him in this video:

Capybaras have very sharp teeth and nip each other constantly when playing. As capybaras have very thick skin this does not cause any harm, but to a human it would result in constant injury (not serious but painful). Capybaras also occasionally bite each other either in play or when being aggressive. Not many humans could cope with this.

It is essential to have an exotic veterinarian and one with capybara experience. If you do not have access to an appropriate exotic vet, are you willing to accept that the animal you love, may very likely die sooner than it should?

This photo was taken on 13th October 2012, the day her twins were born and 5 days before she died. She doesn’t look at all well. It makes me cry to see her like this (Bio Park Photo) 2012年10月13日、この写真で撮影。この日は彼女の双子が生まれた。彼女が亡くなった5日前まで。彼女は非常に病気に見えます。涙。 (写真バイオパーク)
This photo was taken on 13th October 2012, the day her twins were born and 5 days before she died. She doesn’t look at all well. It makes me cry to see her like this. I still miss her. (Bio Park Photo) 2012年10月13日、この写真で撮影。この日は彼女の双子が生まれた。彼女が亡くなった5日前まで。彼女は非常に病気に見えます。涙。 (写真バイオパーク)

Another friend who has two capybaras who live outside in a hot climate, wrote this: “My husband does not think that capybaras make good exotic pets for beginners. People need to know that capybaras are a lifestyle, and not an accessory to their lifestyle. As you said, the owner needs to be sensitive to the animal’s needs.   Is the person willing to provide the amount of time that is needed to spend with a capybara, willingly?”

She continues: “My husband thinks that too many people are drawn in by the cute factor and aren’t prepared for the work.  There are a wide variety of things that contribute to happy, healthy capybaras and it is hard for busy people to provide them, especially people who have little or no experience with exotics. It’s pretty obvious that most ordinary pet owners don’t want to mentally make accommodations that their beloved furbaby isn’t human. They think that if they give the animal the things that the human desires, then the animal will be grateful and behave in a human fashion. When a dog bites, there is some shock that it would do such a thing.   So, then you take that mentality and bring an exotic animal into the scenario. An animal that doesn’t have hundreds of generations trying to please or get along with humans. Capybaras have significant needs too. If the human-animal partnership fails, it will definitely be the capybara that suffers. There is a bit of resentment from professional animals keepers, towards exotic pet owners, because of this unrealistic attitude that many pet owners have. Bad husbandry or bad expectations, lead to injuries or death and public backlash. I don’t know who said it first, but the saying goes that many people falsely believe that not treating animals like humans, is itself inhumane. Just as I wouldn’t expect humans to want to live like a squid, I think it’s unrealistic to assume that a different species will think we do things best.”

She continues:  “Exotic pet owners have to accommodate to the lifestyle of the animal. As I see it, the big key with general animal ownership – and this would hold true for domestics or exotics – is sensitivity/attentiveness to their subtle body language. With professionals this is usually easier, because a professional animal keeper will spend all day long with the animals – it’s their job. The professional will  pick up on little noises or postures which might indicate that the animal is stressed or needs something. Sadly, in my country at least (USA), many people are more self involved. They are also occupied by lots of distractions. Paying close attention to what their animal is saying, or thinking, or trying to convey may well be beyond the capability of most people.( I certainly believe it is.) Your average person will jump to the first assumption regarding its capybara pets needs and not have the intelligence, sensitivity or depth of understanding to go beyond this.”

It takes a great deal of time and commitment to ensure the happiness of a pet capybara.

How many people are prepared to put the happiness of their pet capybara before their own happiness? This means ensuring that there is always somebody at home to keep an eye on the capybara and make sure it doesn’t get into difficulties. One of the major causes of death with pet capybaras comes from dangers encountered in the house or yard/garden, such as unsecured equipment, furniture etc.  Just as important is being there in the home to provide emotional support for your pet capybara. As I have said before, a capybara in the wild would never be alone. You only have to hear the plaintive calls of a capybara suffering separation anxiety to never want your capybara to experience that.

I haven’t even mentioned:

1)  Exotic vet bills which can run into thousands of dollars.  Having a capybara neutered by an experienced exotic vet cost at least $600 in 2013. Other bills may be far higher if the capybara becomes ill.

2)  Emptying the potty pan many times a day; at least 10-12.

3)  Capybara are semi aquatic.  This means you must provide them with somewhere to swim.  Capybaras are so graceful and playful in a pool or large pond;  would you want to deny them this pleasure?   In the wild they would spend much of the day submerged in water.   See my blog:  “Pet Capybara Pool Size. What Size Pool Does My Capybara Need?”:

4)  I personally don’t think it’s fair to keep a capybara in a cold climate. Their native habitat is semi tropical. You only have to see how much livelier Romeo is when the temperature reaches 65°F, to appreciate the effect of a warmer temperature on a capybara. A surprising and unacceptable number of capybaras have suffered frostbite.

Are you prepared to give up social engagements, and never travel away from home to ensure the happiness of your pet? I think there are very few people who could make this commitment.

Please also see our blogs:

Essential Information If You Already Have a Capybara, Or Are Thinking of Getting a Capybara

These are blogs you might find useful if you are thinking of getting a pet capybara and you want your capybara to live a happy and healthy and long life:

A Pet Capybara Should I Have One:

Pet Capybara FAQs: The Questions People Always Ask

What Should I Feed My Pet Capybara? The Capybara Diet

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

Capybaras Beware of Toxic Plants, Chemicals and Poisonous Animals Like Scorpions and Snakes. Humans Remove These from Your Land, Garden and Yard.

Capybara Health Warning: It Will Be Potentially Dangerous To Let Your Capybara Swim in a Chlorinated Swimming Pool Designed and Intended for Human Use

Protect Your Capybaras and Guinea Pigs from Power Cords and Electric Cables

Critical Care for Capybaras. Capybara Health Care. This Could Save the Life of Your Capybara

For information on the sounds capybaras make with links to videos where you can hear all the wonderful sounds and vocalisations which capybaras make, and what they may mean please see my blog: The Sounds Capybaras Make. Capybara’s Vocalisations, Calls and Barks

Capybara Enclosure Design, Husbandry, the Welfare of Capybaras in Zoos and Captive Environments:

An Amusing Account: When Donguri Gave Birth in 2008, at Nagasaki Bio Park. 日本語。どんぐりはもみじや楓を出産したときは

English translation of blog written by Nagasaki Bio Park staff in Japanese. All photographs by Nagasaki Bio Park.                               

When Donguri gave birth to her 3 pups, Momiji, Kaede and Akkun, on 10 September, 2008, she chose to have her babies on Capuchin Island, away from human intervention. She does not have a very high opinion of humans, and wanted to protect them and keep them away from the visitors, which is why she chose to have them on the island. She was most perturbed when the babies were removed from the island by the keepers, and taken to a special enclosure. She quickly followed them there.

This is a link to the original Japanese version written by Nagasaki Bio Park:

http://www.biopark.co.jp/staff/2008/09/post_245.html

(I have kept some of the “Google translate” translations, as they give the flavour of the Japanese humour, and are easy to understand)

September 10, 2008, three capybara pups are born! “Donguri (Acorn)”is the mother, “Takeshi” is the father. (Donguri means Acorn in English.)

These days (at least since 2012) the female capybaras who are about to give birth are put in a separate enclosure, with strings across the top, to protect the newborn pups from crows. Perhaps in 2008 the pregnant capybaras were allowed to give birth in the main enclosure with the rest of the herd. Or perhaps the keepers didn’t realise that Donguri was about to give birth. Donguri is a very large capybara.

Donguri gave birth during the night, and chose to have her pups on the largest of the three islands in the pond, known as “Capuchin Island”. In the wild, capybara mothers go somewhere quiet to give birth, slightly apart from the main herd, in an area with vegetation which will offer some protection from predators. In captive situations, some people separate pregnant capybaras shortly before they give birth, for fear that the male capybaras will attack the pups. However, in reality there is little evidence of infanticide in capybara herds, and it is very stressful for a mother capybara to be separated from her herd. All the capybara fathers I know, have been excellent fathers, very involved, and helping to look after their pups.

When the keepers arrived on the morning of 10 September, and discovered that Donguri had given birth, they set about moving the pups to a separate enclosure for their safety. Donguri was not happy about this!

Donguri: “I hear a noise! What is happening by the pond?”

“Oh no, the keepers have arrived, and are watching me. I wonder what they want?”

Keeper: “First, in order to capture the babies, you must separate the mother and babies, for the time being.”
Keepers: “. ーDonguri, Horahora To~tsu I have gone a little beyond”
Donguri: “I am not happy with what you are doing. I cannot forgive you Fuga~tsu (angry)”
“I am usually a very calm, laid-back capybara. However, this time I will intimidate the keepers with a fierce bark. “
Splash!  Reluctantly I have been forced into the pond!”

Donguri stays in the pond. She watches intently to see what the keepers are doing to her pups, on Capuchin Island. She doesn’t want to go to an isolated enclosure, separated from the herd.

Donguri: “My babies, are they all right I wonder …”

Keeper: “Finally, we begin to capture the baby capybaras. We must not injure the babies.”

The rest of the herd vocalises loudly: “We must intimidate the keepers to protect Donguri and her babies”

Keeper: “Right! I have managed to catch one baby. This is very difficult, the pups move very quickly”.

“Finally, I have managed to catch the other two babies. If I don’t give them back to Donguri soon……”

Keepers: “Donguri, wait! Hurry hurry!

Keeper: “The 3 babies are captured. Everyone is safe. The crows did not cause any injuries, fortunately. The babies are very energetic, so I think they were born some time ago, perhaps just after the Biopark closed yesterday.”

Babies: “Where are we? Where is our mother?”

Donguri goes into this separate enclosure first, isolated from the herd. “Such excitement! This reunion.”
Donguri:. “Well I’m glad everyone is safe and sound. We are lucky! Now I will climb the rocky hill to get away from the humans. Let’s go!”

With that, the babies follow their mother, Donguri, up the mossy, rocky slope. “We are all very healthy!”

“Hey, wait Yo!”

たかさん– Taka san

Why Aoba Should Be the Next Female Capybara to Breed at Nagasaki Bio Park青葉が長崎バイオパークで交尾する次の女性カピバラにならなければならない理由. 青葉は赤ちゃんが必要です

           

A keeper, Ban san, at a zoo in Fukuoka is on record as saying “Animal Welfare is not well understood in Japan. Most people in Japan do not understand animals”. Most zookeepers in Japan become zookeepers because they like the outdoor life, not because they like animals! I have only met one Japanese zookeeper who understood animals. The zookeeper training in Japan does not compare with the zookeeper training in Britain. Zookeepers in Britain understand that it is essential that the animals in their care trust the keepers. Very few of the capybaras trust the keepers at Nagasaki Bio Park. This can have grave consequences as Ryoko experienced.

” Aoba Sings Beautifully As She Begs Nagasaki Bio Park “Please Let Me Have Babies” 青葉赤ちゃんを産んでください”

 

In choosing which female capybara should breed it is important to understand the long-term consequences of this decision. The future cohesion of the herd will depend on this decision which is why it is important to choose a capybara who exhibits submissive behaviour as submissive behaviour is essential for the unity of the herd.

NWN Blissful Aoba NIbbled by Babies 21 Sep 2019 006

Aoba would make such a good motherZabon’s babies loved Aoba

Aoba understands the importance of submissive behaviour. This is why Hinase has accepted Aoba. Maple’s female offspring, Milk and Butter, do not exhibit the submissive behaviour needed to ensure the unity of the herd, which is why Hinase does not accept them and is aggressive towards them.

Aoba has the sweetest nature and will always respond to being petted, whereas Milk is moody and only response to being petted when she is in the mood to be petted. Milk can also be quite aggressive which is why Hinase does not like her.

Video: Aoba would be a wonderful mother as you can see in this video.  “Baby Capybaras Love Aoba, Aoba Loves Babies赤ちゃんカピバラは青葉が大好き、青葉は赤ちゃんが大好き”

 

If the future of the Bio Park herd descends only from Zabon and Maple’s offspring there will be more aggression and less cohesion. It would be a mistake to choose a female capybara to mate on the basis of her relationship with humans and her malleability, including the ability of the chief capybara keeper to interfere in the bonding process. (I watched with dismay as Zabon became less and less involved with her pups, as the chief capybara interfered more and more). It is important to understand that the relationship between the capybaras in the herd is the most important herd dynamic to be considered when choosing a female to breed.

Kona’s offspring have inherited his love of being petted so any capybara who is mated with Kona has the potential to give birth to capybaras who are very receptive to the human visitors. There is no need for the keeper to interfere in the bonding process, between mother capybara and newborn pups, in a misguided attempt to make the baby capybaras “friendly” to humans. European zookeepers do not handle newborns until two or three days or longer after they are born. (Choco and Donut were kept in a separate enclosure with their mother, Momiji, for the first six weeks of their lives. Within two days of moving to the main enclosure they were completely relaxed and happy to be petted by humans.

NWN Magnificent Aoba 10 Sep 2019 034

Aoba

At every zoo in Europe Aoba would be the obvious choice to breed. She is a large, very healthy capybara in her prime. She is sweet natured and intelligent. Her mother, Momiji, has invested a great deal in Aoba and the future of her bloodline. Momiji was an outstanding mother.

Momiji was a much better mother than Maple and Zabon. Momiji always gave Aoba milk whenever she demanded and allowed her to suckle for twice the usual length of time; Aoba suckled for 8 months rather than the usual 4 months. Momiji would be an outstanding grandmother and it would be a tragedy for her as well as for Aoba and the Bio Park if Aoba was not allowed to breed.

Missing photo:  Aoba and Zabon’s babies enjoy being together. Zabon was very thin and weak, and she had not bonded properly with her pups, so her babies went looking for other “mothers”. Alloparenting is a natural capybara behaviour and they loved Aoba.  She would be a wonderful mother 

Zabon died 2 months after giving birth.

The decision to mate Zabon for a second year in 2019 was very strange, some might even say cruel, given the suffering Zabon had experienced in 2018 after she gave birth. When Zabon gave birth in 2018 she lost a tremendous amount of weight and was literally skin and bones, she also lost a lot of hair and it seemed touch and go whether she would survive. Zabon also has a chronic foot problem which requires antibiotics to treat, but because she was pregnant she could not be given antibiotics and her foot became extremely swollen and painful. It was so painful that often she was having to hop on three legs. During the later stages of her pregnancy she had great difficulty jumping in and out of the pond when she needed to thermoregulate in the heat of August.

Zabon again became extremely thin after giving birth in 2019. She was often more interested in eating or sleeping than looking after her babies.

In the photos above, you can see how extremely thin Zabon became after giving birth in 2018. She suffered so much and became very weak; too weak to look after her babies.

I have just heard that Zabon died about two months after giving birth. This tragically proves my point that no keeper with an understanding of Capybara Behaviour and Animal Welfare would have chosen to breed Zabon for a second year.

In addition, although Zabon is a very gentle capybara she comes from a very aggressive family. Zabon’s mother, Aki, was so aggressive that she became herd leader at the young age of 3. Her siblings Goemon and Yuzu were also very aggressive.

Unfortunately, Zabon’s babies seen to have inherited the family’s aggressive nature. Ko and Madoka are extremely aggressive, Ko is the most aggressive yearling capybara I have ever encountered. Sasuke and Kikyo also seem very aggressive. The last thing the Biopark needs is more aggressive capybaras.

So choosing to mate Zabon for a second year in 2019, made absolutely no sense.

Maple and her female offspring are not popular with other herd members. Butter is a bit strange, which is probably why Hinase dislikes her, therefore Butter obviously should not breed.

This is some of the submissive behaviour which Aoba exhibits: Aoba nibbles Hinase’s ear and nuzzles her under the chin, both behaviours which Hinase finds very pleasurable. On one occasion Hinase had a very painful mouth wound after Maple bit her. Hinase found some relief in rubbing her morillo which she did many more times than usual each day until the wound healed. Aoba sensed this and went over to Hinase and rubbed Hinase’s morillo using her chin. Aoba is also very sensitive to Hinase’s moods and avoids upsetting her. As a result Hinase has accepted Aoba. I have these behaviours recorded on video (see above and below).

Butter seems oblivious to Hinase’s moods and often behaves in a slightly strange way. Butter can be very aggressive and is not popular with the herd which is why she has gravitated towards humans but this does not make her a good choice for breeding.

If any of Maple’s female offspring were to be mated and become pregnant this would anger Hinase. A heavily pregnant female who is chased by Hinase runs the danger of suffering a miscarriage. ( I believe Ryoko suffered a partial miscarriage when she was frightened by one of the keepers and ran flat out to the edge of the pond. Capybaras seek refuge from danger in water. After a minute or so Ryoko lay down and then experienced three violent spasms. I said to Marc that I thought Ryoko had suffered a miscarriage; she was within three weeks of giving birth at the time of this tragedy. Her pups had to be delivered by C-section. Ryoko became so weak following this procedure that she was attacked by other herd members and she has had to be permanently separated from the herd which is tragic.)

Milk is a much more aggressive capybara than Aoba. It is only her relatively junior place in the hierarchy which keeps her aggression in check.

Hinase particularly hates Butter and frequently chases her. I can understand Hinase’s behaviour as Butter may be slightly mad. Like horses who are not popular with their herd members, Butter and indeed Maple’s other female offspring, seek out human company. This may make them popular with some people but for the future good of the herd, and the dynamic of the herd, these are not the capybaras an informed zoo keeper would choose to breed to.

Aoba comes from the best bloodline at Nagasaki Bio Park. Her grandmother was Donguri, a natural leader who avoided aggression. Donguri was also very compassionate, visiting and giving support to any capybara who had been separated from the herd and was therefore very stressed. Her offspring, Yasuo and Yasuha, and Yamato, and her grandson Choco, inherited this wise, intelligent, compassionate and non-aggressive nature.

“Baby Capybara Aoba is Very Affectionate and Playful 訪問者は青葉友好的な愛情の遊び心が大好き,”

Missing photo:  Zabon’s baby, Kikyo, loved resting on Aoba 

This bloodline: Donguri, her daughter Momiji and Momiji’s daughter Aoba are likely to provide the most desirable capybaras for the future of the herd. This bloodline also includes Choco, one of the most popular capybaras at the Bio Park who pioneered several new behaviours which captivated the visitors who came to see the capybaras, many of whom came specially to meet Choco. Momiji was a fantastic mother and daughter.

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

Momiji was a much better mother than Maple or Zabon. She was always watchful of her young pups and when Choco, Donut and Macaroni joined the main herd at six weeks of age, Momiji took them on a grand tour of the enclosure and the pond showing them the best places to jump out of the pond and to escape the visitors. Momiji always gave her pups milk when they demanded, no matter how greedy and demanding they were. Maple, by contrast, frequently sat on a bench high above her pups, to prevent them from being able to suckle, consequently Cookie and Butter were much smaller than Aoba even though they were a little older.

To repeat: It Would Be Very Misguided, and a tragedy for Nagasaki Bio Park, Aoba and Momiji If Aoba Was Not Allowed to Mate.

What Happened to Aoba Capybara? アオバカピバラ何が起こったの?

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.

This is a continuation of my blog “How to Have the Best Relationship with Animals – Do Not Try to Control Them”

The events of this summer set me thinking about my own approach to animals and the negative effect on some animal species when people try to control and manipulate them emotionally.

Every behaviour an animal exhibits is meaningful; this is how animals communicate with humans, but not everyone understands or is sensitive to animals’ behaviour.

Shortly after our arrival this year something very bad happened to one of the capybaras, Aoba. What happened remains a mystery but Aoba was found in a distressed state when the keepers arrived on the morning of June 28, which happened to be Aoba’s fourth birthday. Aoba spent the day at the far corner of the capybara enclosure next to the fence separating her from Kona, the breeding male. She looked very sad and stressed. Aoba chose a location where it would be difficult for the keepers to get to her. At the end of the day the keeper on duty went to Aoba and tried to pet her. There was no reaction from Aoba and as soon as the keeper left Aoba went into the pond and disappeared under the wooden deck.

Missing photo:  Aoba spent the day resting

When we arrived the next morning Aoba was still hiding under the deck. In fact we humans did not even know if Aoba was still alive; the capybaras knew of course. The chief capybara keeper put on her waders and tried to get Aoba to come out but there was no reaction. Shortly after this, Aoba’s mother, Momiji, swam over to the deck and called frantically. Momiji looked very worried. About ten minutes later Aoba appeared. Momiji’s behaviour was very interesting. Was she reacting to the keeper’s failed attempt to persuade Aoba to come out, and getting Aoba to do what the keeper had been trying to achieve? As a worried mother was she calling her offspring so that she could check on Aoba’s condition? If the chief capybara keeper had done nothing would Momiji still have called Aoba that morning?

NWN Injured Aoba 02 Jul 2018 002 - Copy

Aoba spent the day of her birthday, following her injury, as far away from people, especially the keepers, as she could. You can see by the expression on her face how depressed she is.

If nothing else Momiji’s behaviour and Aoba’s response shows the strong family bond between mother and daughter capybara. As I have written elsewhere, Momiji is an exceptional mother and she was an exceptionally supportive daughter to her own mother, Donguri, staying beside Donguri during the last month of Donguri’s life as Donguri grew weaker and weaker.

Missing photo

Every time the chief capybara keeper, still in her waders, tried to approach Aoba, Aoba swam away. The chief capybara keeper seemed completely insensitive to what Aoba’s behaviour was telling her. The tone of her voice was one of admonishment; the authority figure who expected to be obeyed. She seemed to have no sense of Aoba’s fragile state or that she was dealing with an injured, probably frightened, animal. The chief capybara keeper wanted to control Aoba rather than connect with Aoba and reassure her. Her complete lack of sensitivity and lack of understanding of the situation and the appropriate behaviour she should be using surprised and disappointed me. I found this very disheartening in a keeper responsible for these sensitive and emotional animals.

Aoba had not eaten for almost two days and this worried me. Capybaras can lose weight very quickly if they are not eating. Marc and I went to the edge of the pond and called Aoba, holding out a piece of pumpkin left over from the morning feed. After a while Aoba came over to us and ate the pumpkin. However, every time the chief capybara keeper tried to approach her Aoba looked nervous and prepared to swim away. I had to tell the chief capybara keeper to go away as I felt it was very important for Aoba to eat and I didn’t want her to be frightened away while we were feeding her. After a while Aoba swam away and hid under the deck again.

Missing photo

Later in the afternoon Aoba swam out from the deck so we called her and asked the keeper on duty to give her some food. He refused! He is the most junior keeper and I assume he was under instructions from the chief capybara keeper that Aoba had to come out of the pond if she wanted to be fed! I thought it was much more important at this stage for Aoba to eat something so we bought her some bamboo and gave her some pellets to eat while she was still in the pond.

After she had eaten Aoba went to sleep in the pond beside us. Capybaras often sleep in the pond, especially when it is very hot. In Aoba’s case, she looked very tired as if she had not slept much during the night following her traumatic experience. She was not ready to leave the pond and our presence beside her gave her security while she slept in the water.

Just before we left the capybara enclosure in late afternoon the evening feed was distributed and Aoba came out of the pond. We sat beside her while she ate to give her some reassurance and protection. Momiji came over as well. It took Aoba a week to fully recover.

This is a video we made of Aoba on the day of her distressing experience and the following day. Aoba was found in the Onsen area which is beside a moss covered, rocky hill about 10 feet high (3 1/2 metres in height). On the first day, her birthday 28 June 2018, you can see her in the far corner of the enclosure next to Kona’s pen. Late that afternoon the keeper tries to pet her. Shortly after the keeper leaves Aoba gingerly goes to the edge of the pond. She acts as if she is not confident about jumping in here, perhaps she is in pain, and moves to another area beside the pond where she feels more confident to jump into the pond. Aoba swims into hiding under the deck. The next day she is still hiding under the deck and you can see and hear Momiji frantically calling and looking very worried. If you listen closely I think you can hear a weak response from Aoba. Hinase, leader of the herd, also looks worried and cries twice (not in the video). Then you can see Aoba swimming away when the keeper tries to approach her. At the end of the video you can see Aoba eating vegetables at the evening feed, still looking rather dazed. Zabon’s female baby tries to suckle from Aoba’s nipple! Momiji is beside Aoba, eating some pumpkin.

There is a moss covered, rocky hill about 10 feet high, 3 1/2 metres, behind the Onsen. Aoba was found in a distressed state near the Onsen. Almost 2 years ago I saw Keiko and Sumire, Hinase’s daughters, at the top of this rocky hill stretching forward trying to eat some leaves. Sumire very nearly lost her balance and only just managed not to fall. I have a video of Keiko not quite losing her balance as she stretches forward, a little nervously, to try and reach some leaves. Shortly before this Gin injured her feet and legs very badly. She could barely walk and was attacked by several capybaras who wanted her place in the hierarchy. Eventually, she was attacked so badly she had to be taken out of the herd. I have always felt it was possible that her injuries were caused by falling as she stretched forward at the top of this rocky hill to eat some leaves and lost her balance. I wonder if Aoba also lost her balance trying to eat leaves at the top of this rocky hill. The branches have now been cut right back so there is no temptation for the hungry capybaras.

NWN Injured Aoba 01 Jul 2018 014

Having spent almost 24 hours in the pond hiding under the boardwalk, Aoba finally came out when her mother, Momiji called. She then spent the day beside the entry gate to the capybara enclosure as if she wanted to escape and needed to be close to the exit.

Two additional things disappointed me about all this: it was thought that Aoba might have been attacked by one of the other capybaras. Although there were no signs of injury it is possible she might have hurt herself trying to escape. The capybaras who the keepers suggested might have attacked Aoba were all capybaras with whom she is very friendly. None of the keepers mentioned, Maple, who is the only capybara known to attack Aoba, as a knowledgeable friend and I agreed. The other thing that bothered me was that one of the keepers said Aoba was fine two days after this mysterious incident. This was not true. On the day when the keeper said Aoba was fine, Aoba lay by the entrance gate looking as if she would like to escape. Then she sat down by the gate and did not move despite the hot summer sun and the hot concrete she was lying on. Normally she would have moved under the bushes nearby where the soft earth was much more comfortable, cool and shady. Later that afternoon Aoba walked the short distance to the pond and looked as if she wanted to jump in but something was preventing her so she lay down again. Throughout all this Aoba seemed more nervous of the keepers than any other capybara.

NWN Injured Aoba 30 Jun 2018 080

Aoba looks in pain. She remained beside the gate leading out of the capybara enclosure

Capybaras are exceptionally sensitive and emotionally sophisticated. They know when someone is trying to control them and this makes them deeply suspicious.

Missing photo:  Brother Donut sat near Aoba on the first day looking very sad and worried 

Some of capybaras outstanding sensitivity to people’s emotions may be due to their superior sense of smell. Humans emit chemicals in response to different emotional states and these chemicals emit an odour which many animals can smell and react to. It has been scientifically tested and proven that animals can smell “fear”. So if you are afraid in the presence of an animal, for example a ferocious looking dog, that dog will smell your fear and may react accordingly. I wonder, therefore, whether people who compulsively try to control animals emit an odour which alerts and warns the animal/capybara that this person is not acting in the animal’s best interest and is not to be trusted.

I have absolutely no doubt that the best relationship a person can have with an animal is based on mutual trust and the person’s ability to understand life from the animal’s perspective. There are far more productive and rewarding ways of achieving a desired behaviour in an animal then by using force or by attempting to control.

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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