Can You Own a Pet Capybara? Yes Or No? Is It Legal?

Can You Own a Pet Capybara? Is It Legal?

Can I keep a Capybara as a pet? Do Capybaras make good pets? Every exotic pet enthusiast must have such similar questions in their mind. Before considering bringing a pet Capybara at home, questions like these and deep research are a must.

When individuals can’t take proper care of these pets, either a lot of them end up in refuges or several poor animals amongst them die.

However, with us here, the chances for any such unfortunate scenario are the least. So why wait? Let’s learn the A to Z about what it is about owning a ‘Pet Capybara’?

Getting a Pet Capybara: What You Need to Know

Where did the ocelot originate from? Capybara or Water hog is an animal from the rodent family. This giant cavy rodent is the largest living rodent in the world and is native to South Africa.

Capybara is commonly known as greater Capybara (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris) or lesser Capybara (Hydrochoerus isthmus).

They are closely related to guinea pigs and rock cavies, whereas they are distantly related to agouti, chinchilla, and nutria.

People often confuse Capybara for Guinea Pigs, though neither the two are similar nor the former is so easy to care for.

Capybara is shy and associates in groups, commonly along lakeside or riverbank.

These animals are found in Central and South America, and some people also call them the ‘American Hippos.’

Can You Own a Pet Capybara? Yes Or No? Is It Legal?

Where do capybaras come from?

What did ocelots evolve from? It is known that about around 80 million years ago ancestors of Capybara evolved in Africa. Later, they then arrived in South America 40 million years after.

Their common name is derived from the Tupian language. The formulation goes like kaá (leaf) + píi (slender) + ú (eat) + ara (a suffix for agent nouns).

In English translation, it means the grass eater or one who eats slender leaves. At the same time, Capybara’s scientific name is derived from the Ancient Greek language. Here (hydro “water”) and (choiros “pig, hog”) makes up for the full name.

Capybara Species Taxonomy

Other NamesWater Hog, Carpincho, ChigM-|ire (In Vietnamese)
Scientific NamesHydrochoerus hydrochaeris and Hydrochoerus isthmius
SpeciesH. hydrochaeris
Lifespan8 to 10 years.
They only survive up to 4 years
SizeHeight: 50 to 64 cm (Adult, At the withers)
Length: 1.1 to 1.3 m (Adult)
Mass: 35 to 66 kg (Adult)
Incubation130 to 150 days

Does Capybara Make Good Pets?

According to individuals who have kept them, Capybara makes as good pets. However, having a wild animal as a pet animal is a very different experience.

Unlike animals who are used to domestication, Capybaras won’t find it very comfortable around humans during the early stage. They may behave afraid and try to hide in order to save themselves.

However, with time, good care, and proper training, Capybaras will become comfortable with the surroundings and the individuals around them. With that, there are high chances that they will likely make good pets.

Is It Legal to Keep Capybara as A Pet?

For keeping any exotic animal as a pet, it is important to know whether they are legal in your area or not. Several animal welfare organizations work towards the betterment of voiceless animals by guiding them through strict laws.

Some places insist on showing a permit or health certificate for keeping Capybara as pets. Whereas in other places, it is important to attain a license.

Are Capybaras legal in the US?

Labeled as social creatures, Capybaras are legal in several regions of the United States. Depending upon the area you live in, the legality and laws may chance/ differ.

For example, states including Texas, Pennsylvania, and New York allow it to possess Capybaras legally.

Places like Arizona, Arkansas, Texas, Florida, Indiana, Nevada, Washington, North Carolina, and Tennessee too allow keeping Capybaras as pets. At the same time, these pets are banned in California and Georgia.

Besides looking for the laws in States, it is important to check with your local city laws as well. For instance, Capybaras are legal in New York State. However, they are illegal and restricted in the five boroughs of New York City.

Can you have Capybaras as pets?

Yes, if you can take proper care of them, you can definitely keep Capybaras as pets. These animals are friendly, easy to train, and adjust well around humans. Given they have their own habitat with the right conditions, they can survive for long in captivity/ or as pets.

Even individuals who have kept Capybaras as pets in the past suggest choosing them above various other exotic animals. Unlike Jaguars, Whales, and other wild animals, Capybaras are comparatively easier to care for.

Capybara as Pets- You have to meet their needs

Capybara Housing Needs

For keeping a Capybara as a pet, roughly 12 feet by 20 feet or at least 200 square feet of space is necessary. Though experts suggest keeping Capybaras in pairs for healthy animal growth, increase the area maximum by double.

Prepare a large fenced-in area with at least 5 feet high fencing and no gaps for the rodent to squeeze out.

Make sure their habitat isn’t completely closed since they need daily exposure to the ultraviolet rays of the sun. However, maintaining a shaded resting space is a must as well.

Capybaras need water, and they enjoy spending time in that. That is why incorporating a small pond or pool inside their habitat is a must. Without proper hydration, their skin will soon dry out.

Capybara Temperature and Humidity Needs

Capybaras are diurnal, and thus they require their daily dose of sunlight. They can handle temperatures anywhere from 45 degrees Fahrenheit up to 100degrees Fahrenheit.

They can’t handle cold temperatures and need natural or artificial lightning daily. During snowy summer days, providing UVB lighting indoors for at least 12 hours per day is a must.

Capybara Dietary Needs

Capybaras in the wild feed primarily on a handful of plant species, grasses, and aquatic plants. Anything heavier than that is extremely difficult for Capybaras to digest.

Even at times, they can’t digest grass in one go, and thus Capybaras eat their own poop in order to receive full nutrients.

In captivity, individuals can feed Orchard or Timothy hay to Capybara. Treats like carrots, too, are something one can incorporate.

Also, consult an exotic animal vet to incorporate additional vitamin C into your pet Capybara’s diet. It is since they can’t make it all by themselves.

Capybara Cleaning

Capybaras don’t need any bodily cleaning. It is since these animals spend most of their time in the water, they clean themselves up.

For another cleaning, it is easy to train baby Capybara to potty. Once they grow, they will mark their territory using urine and feces.

Common Health Problems with Capybara

As discussed above as well, Capybaras commonly suffer from Vitamin C deficiency. Besides that, they are also prone to infestations with mites or lice in their fur, along with respiratory problems. To ensure safety from any of these, a proper diet and hygiene of their habitat is a must.

Capybaras do not grind their teeth enough which makes them suffer from an overbite. Due to this, they may eventually experience facial disfigurement. That is why it is important to feed them hard graze to ensure. Capybaras use their whole mouth to chew.

How Much Does a Capybara Cost?

The purchasing cost of Capybaras falls anywhere between $1,000 to $3,000. While males are affordable, female Capybaras are more expensive. Also, remember, buying a pair of Capybaras is a must since keeping one alone isn’t safe for the pet’s growth.

Pro Tip: Invest in a bay Capybara instead of an adult Capybara. The ones who are just one to two months old are easy to cage train and are better for keeping as pets.

Where to buy a capybara? Where To Find a Capybara breeder?

Capybaras are available for sale at many exotic pet centers. You can find one close by or investigate about with the local animal care center. Though if not that, there are multiple websites that sell pet Capybaras and even deliver them to your locations. Some of the trustable resources amongst them include


To find the best Capybara breeders, it is better to do your research the legal way. While you are just planning to get the license to keep a Capybara, the individuals in charge can help you with several information.

Remember, there are very limited certified Capybara breeders in the United States. Do not go for someone who only dupes in the name of selling good pets.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do capybaras make good house pets?

Yes, when given proper care, Capybaras make relatively better house pets than most exotic animals. They are friendly toward humans and give cute responses to efforts made toward them.

Do capybaras get along with cats?

Yes, Capybaras are social animals, and they get along with a huge variety of pet animals, including cats. Besides that, they also mingle well with llamas, rabbits, turtles, chickens, ducks, dogs, etc.

Is it Expensive to Raise Capybaras as Pets?

Yes, raising Capybaras is extremely expensive, right from buying them to providing them a good life. From the moment you think of adopting them, you need to fulfill the cost of special licensing. Along with that adds the cost of buying, habitat building, special Vet care, and food.

Do Capybaras like to Cuddle?

Yes, Capybaras like to cuddle since they are extremely affectionate. However, instead of cuddling with humans, they love cuddling with other small animals.

Wrapping up…

Can you own Capybaras as pets? Yes, definitely. It is easier to keep pet Capybaras than many other exotic animals. These animals are friendly, and non-violent, and love their space around humans and other pets.