The Capybara Scandal

I am trying to stop capybaras becoming the next “must have” exotic pet craze, and suffering the same fate as potbellied pigs, when they become large and difficult to handle.

I was talking to a lady who runs an Animal Refuge in Indiana who already has 2 capybaras who she rescued. She said there was a growing number of people buying female capybaras in order to mate them, and make money out of selling their babies. She expects to have many more capybaras who need to be rescued, because there are now so many breeders, and so many people who want a cute pet capybara.

When capybaras are portrayed as “cute” (dressed in clothes, hats and sunglasses) you create a market for pet capybaras among people who are not really interested in capybaras, but just love their cuteness. These people have no understanding of a capybara’s needs, and no desire to spend time doing the necessary research.

Capybaras are happiest as part of a herd in their natural habitat. These capybaras are in the Llanos of Colombia

People need to know that pet capybaras are sometimes aggressive. As they grow older and bigger, capybaras become very powerful. They have very sharp teeth (the Amerindians, in South America, use capybara teeth as weapons, attached to poles). Not many people want a pet who can cause painful, even serious, injuries.

Please see my blog: A Pet Capybara: Should I Have One?

The leading breeder of capybaras stopped selling capybaras to the public as pets, about 8 years ago, because so many pet capybaras suffered, often dying prematurely or ending up in animal refuges.

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

Many pet capybaras die prematurely due to tooth problems, inappropriate diet and stress.

A friend, who runs an animal refuge, reminded me of the craze for potbellied pigs, not so long ago. When these potbellied pigs grew larger, many were abandoned and ended up in refuges. The same is beginning to happen with capybaras.

Capybaras are very sensitive emotionally; they are intelligent, sentient beings who can think and feel.

If you look in Ran’s eyes you can see how frightened he is

I was heartbroken to learn that during the extreme cold spell in February 2021, many pet capybaras suffered frostbite. This indicates that most people who get pet capybaras should not. This has happened before. Over the years I have been horrified to hear of capybaras suffering frostbite in North America. If I had capybaras living outside in extreme weather conditions, I would usher them into my house, and if necessary cover them with blankets. No capybara should suffer frostbite.

I find it very depressing that people who say they care about capybaras like to see capybaras dressed in clothes. No one who dresses a capybara in clothes should have one of these remarkable animals.

It seems that most people cannot see life from an animal’s perspective. Like everyone who understands animals, I don’t understand why people like seeing capybaras in dresses. One of the reasons people love capybaras is they are so cute – naked!

People should know that capybaras don’t like wearing clothes. This should not come as a surprise to anyone who understands animals. I have witnessed first-hand how uncomfortable and unhappy capybaras are in clothes. Being made to wear clothes also interferes with the relationship between a pet capybara and their owner. The capybara is confused why someone they love is doing this to them.

I came across a website, by accident, which advertised capybaras for sale. These were capybaras who had outgrown their “baby” cuteness. They varied in age from about nine months to 3 years. The way in which they were described by the people selling them was heartbreaking. One seller described his capybara as “Sold as is, with defects”, as if he was selling a used car. Another advertised his capybara as: “Cannot be handled”; I wondered what had caused this capybara to become so unhappy and aggressive. Another seller described the capybara he was selling as “Suitable for display” as though this sensitive, living being was an inanimate object with no feelings or needs. I was in tears thinking about the unhappy lives humans had created for these loving animals. And I was appalled at the lack of compassion, concern or morality of the people selling these unwanted capybaras.

I was in conversation recently with a man who wanted to keep a capybara as a pet. He was convinced he could give the capybara a better life than the capybara would experience in the wild! Research has shown that wild animals kept as pets suffer much more stress than if they were living in the wild, in their natural habitat.  I was horrified at this man’s lack of understanding and arrogance. He obviously had no understanding whatsoever of animals, and unfortunately was not interested in learning.

Capybaras do not like to wear clothes. Dressing a pet capybara causes stress and interferes with the bond between the capybara and the human, as the capybara cannot understand why the human is doing this to him
Capybaras do not like to wear clothes. Dressing a pet capybara causes stress and interferes with the bond between the capybara and the human, as the capybara cannot understand why the human is doing this to him

It is well known that the market for “cute” animal photos and videos is detrimental to Animal Welfare. In some countries it encourages people to buy wild animals as pets when in fact these wild animals are totally unsuited to becoming pets and usually suffer. It also results in an increasing number of zoos, often very small and cramped, which house cute animals in prisonlike conditions. These animals suffer immense stress in small, unsuitable enclosures, often with concrete floors. In the case of capybaras, who are semi aquatic, their water source is a small plastic tub often barely larger than the capybara himself, when they need a body of water large enough for them to swim and play.

Capybara cafes should be banned. A cafe is a very stressful and unsuitable habitat for a wild animal. Animals in captivity should always be able to express their natural behaviours and have some control over their lives. Capybaras need to have access to grazing and a pond 24/7. Nobody who understands animals would want to see a capybara, or any other wild animal, in a cafe.

We humans cause so much suffering to the animals we call “cute”. Capybaras, and all other species, are so VERY MUCH MORE than cute.

For more on this topic see my blog: “Animal Manifesto, Animals Are Real Not Cute”

Anyone who understands animals and cares about capybaras will be very concerned about the welfare of the growing number of capybaras being bought as pets.

There is an increasing number of people breeding capybaras for sale as pets to meet this demand. The result is capybaras suffer, and end up in refuges.

Some of the people who say they love capybaras, understand animals and care about the welfare of capybaras. Other people who say they like capybaras, just like their cuteness and want them as entertainment, but have no understanding of, or interest in, their welfare. Unfortunately, I believe the majority of people who say they like capybaras, are in the latter category. I believe this is partly because most people cannot see life from an animal’s perspective. My mission is to prevent capybaras from suffering by helping people to understand the needs of these remarkable, sentient beings.

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


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.

 A recommended minimum size of pool/pond is 9 ft x 16 ft with a depth of 4 ft. The pool or pond should have a few shallow places where the capybara can sit and rest while still remaining mostly or partly submerged. If your pool does not have any steps or ledges that would provide this, you should put something like a plastic table in the pool for the capybara to sit on. Make sure it is securely anchored and does not tip over when the capybara climbs onto it.

A large, 8 foot, cattle tank is not sufficient, many people would say . There is no way a capybara can swim properly in something this small. And of course it is not very deep either.

Capybaras are outstanding swimmers and need a pool/pond that is at least 4 feet deep. They love to swim underwater and are very playful, rolling and turning. Capybaras can stay under water for up to 5 minutes.

In the wild capybaras spend much of the afternoon in water. Submerging in water is a way for them to thermoregulate, i.e. cool themselves.

NWN Romeo Swimming

Capybaras are very agile and graceful in water. A cattle tank is not big enough to allow them to express themselves physically and aquatically, as they would in the wild.   It is a wonderful sight watching a capybara swim, and roll, and play with gay abandon.


Please see my blog which gives information about the dangers to capybaras of letting capybaras use your swimming pool. I also give information about a recommended filter system to use to clean the water in your swimming pool.  It is recommended that you do not use chlorine.

This is a video of Romeo and Tuff’n playing in their swimming pool, you will see how they really make use of, and enjoy, the space available to them:





















US States Which Allow You to Keep a Capybara As a Pet.

Before you seriously consider keeping a capybara as a pet, can I urge you to do the research. Too many capybaras kept as pets die prematurely or end up in refuges. I have written a number of blogs on Capybara Welfare and different aspects of keeping a capybara as a pet, including Diet, Pool Size, How to Treat a Pool to Make It Safe for a Capybara, etc. PLEASE READ THESE. I give links to these blogs at the end of this blog. Please also read these 2 blogs:

Capybara FAQs. The Questions People Always Ask:

A Pet Capybara, Should I Have One?:

What Should I Feed My Pet Capybara? Capybara diet

Below are two of the best links giving information about which States might allow you to keep a capybara as a pet.

NWN Io eating his cecotropes 2012

5 month old Io, Donguri’s little son, eating his cecotropes

However, even within States regulations often vary. Counties, cities and even neighbourhoods may also have their own laws about keeping capybaras as pets. You should also check Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC and R’s) in your area. There may also be regulations included in the Deeds to your home. You may also need to get the agreement of other residents in your area.

Your local Wildlife Fish and Game government department will have more information. Wildlife Fish and Game is also the Department you may have to contact to apply for your license/permit to keep a capybara as a pet. They will want to inspect your property, and if permission is granted there will be further inspections at regular intervals to check on the welfare of your capybara and his/her habitat.

Wildlife Fish and Game in Henderson, Nevada, admitted that they did not know much about keeping capybaras as pets when they issued the permit to keep capybaras as pets to friends of mine. Having read my blogs, they realised how little they knew and became much stricter in issuing permits! (My friends would still have got their permit, but several other would-be capybara pet owners were turned down, which hopefully saved a few capybaras from an unhappy life.)

NWN Magnificent Aoba 10 Sep 2019 034


Bear in mind that the information on the Internet about keeping wild animals as pets in different States tends to be general in nature, so you should contact your local authorities for the precise regulations that pertain to keeping a capybara in the place where you live. For example, some websites suggest you cannot keep any wild animal as a pet in Washington State, but in reality this refers primarily to dangerous wild animals. In Washington State you may be able to keep a capybara as a pet depending on the area, particularly if your area does not have sidewalks. However, you may also have to get the agreement of other residents in the area.

The following states generally allow people to keep capybaras as pets: Arizona, Arkansas, Texas, Florida, Indiana, Nevada, Washington, North Carolina, Tennessee; I have also been told parts of New York state. You will still need to get a licence/permit to keep a capybara as a pet in most of the states.

It is much more difficult to get permission to keep a pet capybara in Europe, where Animal Welfare Laws tend to be much stricter. Many European countries do not permit the keeping of wild animals as pets. In some countries you may be able to keep a capybara as a pet if you fulfil very stringent requirements; this may be the case in France and Poland. Keeping a capybara as a pet is illegal in Italy. (A friend of mine in Italy rescued a badly injured nutria who had escaped from the farm where he was being reared for his fur.) Nutrias were brought to Italy for the fur trade and some escaped. There are also escaped wild nutria in Paris in the river Seine, and other parts of France.

These are the best links I could find:

Born Free USA is a National Animal Advocacy nonprofit organisation:

Summary of State Laws Relating to Private Possession of Exotic Animals       (

This is another useful link:

Remember, not all the information given on the Internet is necessarily entirely accurate.

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, read these blogs if you are seriously thinking of keeping a capybara as a pet. Capybaras are exceptionally sensitive and emotional (they have very high emotional intelligence) and suffer stress much more than dogs. They suffer extreme “separation anxiety” (if they are bonded with a human) every time the human leaves the home. Listening to the plaintive cry of a pet capybara (who I was pet sitting) every time his “owner” left home was heartbreaking, and the experience will haunt me for the rest of my life.

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. One capybara died, due to the chlorine in his pool, because his owner, who knew about my blogs, didn’t bother to do any research.

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

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

I have written many other blogs which are useful for anyone thinking of keeping a capybara as a pet, at my blog site “Capybara World” on WordPress:

The Lifestyle a Pet Capybara Expects 寵物水豚的生活方式 ペットカピバラのライフスタイル

Written by A Couple Who Have Lived With 2 Pet Capybaras for 8 Years

By Marvin Reeder and Elizabeth Ojeda Reeder

Romeo Elizabeth's Room Marvin 21 May 2020

Romeo and Tuff’n relaxing

It has been my observation that Capybaras will rest facing in different directions. They do this in order to be alerted to the first sight of room service delivering their breakfast, or any treats that may be arriving.

Capybaras are much more intelligent than most people realise. The ability to conceptualise is considered a sign of high intelligence. Many people cannot conceptualise, but Tuff’n can! Watch him as he solves his problem

Romeo and Tuff'n in bed with Marvin – Marvin's photo

Romeo and Tuff’n sleep in the family bed with Marvin and Elizabeth every night. They would feel rejected if they were forced to sleep separately from the family

Capybara are very sensitive animals and can be highly adaptable to many different environments. They are also highly intelligent and prefer the comforts of climate control, noise deadening windows, soft cushions to rest on, a comfortable warm bed with a heated blanket and other luxurious and plush surroundings.

Romeo in front of his new LIMO 28 February 2016

Romeo waits for his chauffeur to arrive. Please note the personalised number plate:ROUS. Rodents of Unusual Size for anyone who doesn’t know!

Among the things capybaras need and expect: permanent access to a warm bath and swimming pool, their drinking water to be heated slightly, a full-time masseur, grass and mud.

Romeo and Tuff’n have their own personal vet. She comes to their home, so that they don’t have to do go through the terrifying experience of visiting a public animal hospital. If they require an operation she can anaesthetise them, safely, on the sofa. Romeo is terrified of any building which reminds him of the animal hospital. Taking a capybara to the vet is not only very stressful for the capybara, but can also present many logistical problems. Elizabeth’s sister is a vet and she has created a permanently available prescription for antibiotics in case Romeo or Tuff’n develop an infection, so that they do not have to wait even an extra hour for treatment. Many pet capybaras die because their owners put off seeking treatment due to the cost of visiting a vet who specialises in exotic animals.

Interestingly, not all capybaras require a limousine. Romeo likes to monitor the chauffeur, standing with his front legs on the console, which has been specially padded and carpeted, and whispering instructions into the chauffeur’s ear from time to time, or nibbling his ear. In a limousine Romeo is prevented from having any direct access to the chauffeur by a glass partition. Capybaras may prefer a former racing driver to be their chauffeur; someone who can react quickly to avoid danger.

Romeo Tuff'n Kitchen

Tuff’n, Romeo and Shortrib waiting hopefully in the kitchen.  Every time Romeo and Tuff’n hear sounds emanating from the kitchen, they appear, noses pointing hopefully in the direction of the food

Tuff’n has watched the humans relaxing on li–lo’s in the pool and wants the same experience. He drags his cushion to the side of the pool, jumps in the pool, pulls the cushion in, and relaxes floating:

 Capybaras are exceptionally sensitive emotionally. More so than most humans. They are very aware of the moods of the people around them and can be easily upset. As wild animals their reactions may be instinctive, having evolved over millions of years to protect them from dangers. As a human you may have no idea what you have done to upset them, and why they have suddenly attacked you, with their very sharp teeth.

Capybara teeth are so sharp that the Amerindians of South America used the teeth as a spear point.

Like all rodents, capybaras hate to be controlled. In this, they are the complete opposite of dogs and horses. If you try to control a capybara you will destroy the relationship and the capybara’s trust.

Romeo sleeping with Liz July 2020

Romeo sleeping with Elizabeth on his special bed which includes a massage facility and a choice of positions and a choice of comfort levels

I have been observing and photographing this pair of wild capybara in their unnatural environment for about eight years. It has been my observation that they can be highly manipulative and cunning animals, able to control the minds of others.

I believe that if there were a greater number of capybaras in the world, in time they would become the dominant species and all humans would be subservient to them.

Marvin’s verdict: Please don’t keep a capybara as a pet:  the capybara will suffer.

Photos by Marvin Reeder and Elizabeth Ojeda Reeder

Where Can I Pet a Capybara in America? Why Being with Capybaras Is The Best Experience in the World

You might find these videos useful: the first video shows you how to pet a capybara. Not the way you would pet a dog!

Capybara Erogenous Zones Where Capybaras like to Be Petted

Watch What Happens When Baby Capybara Is Petted

You have never heard capybaras talk to each other like this before!

You have never heard capybaras talk to each other like this before!

If you want to spend time with a capybara, and many other exotic species, there are a growing number of zoos in America which offer this fabulous experience.

There are many small petting zoos in America where you can meet capybaras. If anyone reading this knows of such a place, please let me know. (You can leave a message at the end of this blog, or contact me on Facebook at Capybara World:

There are wild herds of capybara in Florida. In North Florida there are many rivers where capybaras have been found in the past. There have also been sightings in the Ocala National Forest. Unfortunately people in Florida hunt capybaras so in some locations capybaras are no longer found in Florida where they existed in the past. There have been capybaras on an island near Kissimmee. The Bacardi family had a herd of capybaras on their estate near Gainesville, some of whom escaped.

Workhorse Farm, Denton, Maryland:   25883 Garey Road, Denton, Maryland 21629


There are about 30 other species of exotic, rare and domesticated animals on this 40 acre farm including, (as well as Capybaras) camels, zebras, llamas, Asian water buffalo, kangaroos, wallabies, emus, tortoises and draft horses. You may also encounter some baby animals.


You can also tour the farm in a wagon drawn by draft horses.


Many of these animals have been rescued and are looked after by owner Nick Mielke, his family and volunteers.


These are comments made by recent visitors to Workhorse Farm:

“Amazing experience.  My boys loved it”

“We had the best time today.  Highly recommended for adults and kids.”

“Awesome place with incredible animals. a great experience for animal lovers! the owners are super friendly and make you feel right at home!”

Spending time with a capybara is the best experience I know of; in case you didn’t already realise! Capybaras are considered one of the most gregarious species by ethologists (scientists who study animal behaviour). Capybaras who are habituated to people can be exceptionally affectionate. They love to be petted and their reaction (rolling over, looking absolutely blissful and ecstatic, with their hair rising – pilo-erection) is greater than any other animal species I know of.

I have spent at least 6 months of every year for the past 9 years in the company of capybaras: mostly the herd at Nagasaki Bio Park and with my friends’ 2 pet capybaras, Romeo and Tuff’n. I spend all day every day, studying their behaviour and learning how they go about their lives and relationships with other capybaras and humans. I never get bored in the company of capybaras!

Capybaras are very sensitive emotionally, more so than most humans. This may be, in part, because of their high olfactory intelligence (sensitivity to smell). When we are stressed or unhappy our bodies produce hormones, like the stress hormone cortisol, and capybaras can smell this. If I am upset, a capybara will sense this, whereas most humans will not, and will be extra affectionate. If my friends are sick Romeo and Tuff’n will spend all day on the bed with them. If my friends suffer an injury the capybaras seem to know which part of the body is injured and will nuzzle it. When my friends’ nephews come to spend the night Romeo will stay beside them guarding them, as if he knew children need extra protection; normally Romeo would sleep on the bed with my friends.

Petting Donguri

Visits are by appointment only. The farm is located 3 miles from Denton, Maryland.

You can contact Nick Mielke, owner of Workhouse Farm, Rescue and Exotics, at this Facebook page:

Phone: +1 410-479-9750

Address: 25883 Garey Road, Denton, Maryland 21629

Austin Zoo, Texas

10808 Rawhide Trail, Austin, TX 78736
Phone: (512) 288-1490
Fax: (512) 288-3972

Austin Zoo offers Capybara Encounters. As of June 2021 the details are as follows:

  • Capybara Encounters are available Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 12:00pm.
  • Reservations must be made and paid for 24 hours in advance, to ensure staff availability. Call 512.695.3021 to secure your spot.
  • The cost of your encounter is $40 per person.
  • Encounters are limited to three individuals from the same household.
  • Guests must be10 years of age or older.
  • We will provide gloves for guests to wear, please bring your mask, masks are required. Gloves and masks are required for your entire experience.
  • Please check in at our Admissions trailer 10 minutes before your scheduled encounter to review and sign a liability release.
  • A member of our Animal Care staff will be taking photographs or videos for you. We ask that one guest per group provide a smart phone. Guests will not be allowed to take photos/videos. This is for your safety!
  • You will enjoy 35 minutes with our Capybara.
  • Please do not be late! You will want to spend as much time as possible with Diego, Enrique, and Olivia!

Lewis Adventure Farm and Zoo

The Zookeeper Experience: accompanied by a zookeeper, meet their animals including capybaras, and learn about them.

The experience lasts 50 minutes, and costs $50 per person plus Farm Admission 

Tel: 231 861 5730

Address: 4180 west M-20,  New Era,  Michigan 49446

North Georgia Wildlife Park and North Georgia Safari Park
2912 Paradise Valley Rd Cleveland, GA 30528 (706)348-7279

You can meet and spend time with capybaras:  the capybara experience costs $54 in addition to the admission fee. It lasts for 45 minutes and includes other South American animals

Amazing Animals Inc is in St Cloud, Florida where you can meet their 2 capybaras, PJ and Penelope. Amazing Animals Inc offer private tours, by appointment only, for $40 per person. The tour lasts 1 1/2 hours.

Amazing Animals Inc is located on a 2.5 acre site, and have over 100 exotic animals. In addition to private tours, they also organise events and travel to offsite locations with their animal ambassadors.

To book a tour call: 407 – 719 – 6269 Or Brian at

For more information go to their website:

You can watch them on YouTube at:

Palm Beach Zoo, 1301 Summit Boulevard, West Palm Beach, Florida 33405.

The zoo offers a capybara encounter experience, described as “Meet the Animals”

For more information contact them at:

Tel: 561 547 9453

North Carolina. Darby Acres Farm and Darby Safari are not open to the public but you can visit and book a tour by appointment only.

Monday – Friday 9 AM – 12 PM Tel: 704 – 930 – 3048

At 2 separate locations: Farm address: Hutchinson Lane. Safari address: Kelly Road.

The Darby Safari, by appointment, includes a walking tour of this safari zoo (1 hour). Introduction to exotic animals by a tour guide in an up close private setting. For an additional charge, you may choose from a list of animal encounters with your online scheduling. 

There is also a tour of the Darby Acres Farm, by appointment: 1 hour walking tour of the petting farm. Meet and pet the farm animals which include llamas, sheep etc.. Meet a majority of the farm animals.

North Carolina: It’s A Zoo Life. A Petting Zoo

4313 NC Hwy 42, Macclesfield NC 27852

Tel: (252) 266-7974

Open Tuesday through Saturday with tours at 10am and 1pm.

A trained guide will share facts about the animals’ native environments and care required.

You can meet and pet a capybara here and they describe their capybara as “so awesome”!

“The zoo has over 100 animals, including a capybara, a zebra, camel, sloth, Patagonian cavy, porcupines, lemur, kangaroos, wallaby, tortoise, alpacas, coatimundi, cockatoo, hedgehogs, ferrets, rabbits, pigs, goats, cow, sheep, peacocks, ducks, chickens, mini horses, and many more.  From the inception of Zoo Life our goal has been to offer a unique experience for our visitors, therefore our animals have been selected and conditioned with this in mind. Most of them have been with us since they were babies, started out living in our home, and we are proud of the bond we share with each of them. Larger facilities may have more species of animals or offer a drive-through safari type tour but here you will get to know each of our animals personally. The most noteworthy difference between our Zoo and others is it’s our own backyard and these are truly our pets. We interact with them daily and know their personalities in depth.”

Animal Adventure Park
85 Martin Hill Road
Harpursville, NY 1378


Guests can feed and pet all the animals here, including the capybara.

Open 7 days a week 10-5pm. Last admissions 4pm