Often mistaken for giant guinea pigs, Capybaras are considered as the largest rodents in the world. They can grow as big as medium-sized dogs weighing up to 70 kilograms.
Although they are considered as exotic animals, they can surely become a household pet. Known for being sociable and friendly, they can be a good pet choice if you do not want to go for the usual cats and dogs.
If you fancy having one in your household, preparations are in line. Capybaras are not your usual pets so expect some difficulties, starting with the finding of a responsible breeder.
Acquiring a Capybara
Capybaras are rarely sold in local pet stores. Actually, only Texas and Pennsylvania have legalized the ownership of a Capybara. If you reside in a different state, it is best to check your local regulation before acquiring one.
Since they are hard to find, their price is not on the affordable side. They usually range from $500 – $1,000 or more if you are going to source it from its place of origin, South America.
Younger Capybaras are more expensive than adult ones. A male baby Capybara price is around $1,500. A 2-year old female Capybara is typically sold for $1,000, while a female breeder Capybara is more expensive at around $2,500.
With its exoticness, only a few responsible breeders of Capybaras are out on the market. Breeders requiring you to pick up your future pet is more preferable. This is to ensure that the breeder is legitimate; plus, this will give you the opportunity to check the breeder’s facilities.
Also, an important thing that you have to consider is that Capybaras live in packs. It is recommended to get them in pairs or in groups. They will thrive more in an environment where they are with their own kind.
If you want to risk it and will just get one, choose a male Capybara. A few of their males are capable of living alone. But, if you can get a pair, go with two females, or a pair of a male and a female. Avoid getting two males. The rationale behind this is that male Capybaras tend to become aggressive upon reaching adulthood.
Caring for Your Capybara
Nutrition – For Capybaras’ diet, you would not need to spend so much. They are vegetarians. They eat about 3 kilograms of plants a day.
When feeding them, make sure that you give them high-quality hay. Orchard hay and Timothy hay are the two types of hay which are readily available at pet stores and online.
Oxbow Animal Health sells both Timothy and Orchard hay. They also have a mixture of both.
- Orchard Grass Hay (15 oz.): around $17
- Hay Blends Timothy Orchard (40 oz.): around $19
- Timothy Hay (90 oz.): around $25
Grazing your lawn is also allowed as long as you are confident that there are no toxic weeds or grass around. Also, secure that your lawn is free from harmful fertilizers or insecticides. The following plants are known to be toxic to Capybaras:
Another thing that you have to add to their diet is Vitamin C rich foods. They are unable to naturally produce Vitamin C in their bodies.
To remedy such deficiency, you can feed them Guinea Pig pellets with Vitamin C. Wild Harvest has a Super Premium Guinea Pig Blend with Vitamin C for around $20 for a pack of two 4-pound bags.
Health – Aside from giving them a nutritious diet, make sure that there is a veterinarian in your area who will be willing to take care of your Capybara. Like cats and dogs, they also need to be checked regularly.
One concern regarding their health is that they are prone to respiratory infections just like other rodents. Other than that, health issues that they would potentially suffer from are caused by unclean surroundings. Thus, you always have to keep their area clean.
When it comes to housing your Capybara, do not expect it to be as breezy as when you own a cat or a dog. Capybaras are semi-aquatic animals. You would need to provide them with a steady source of water where they can dive in.
Capybara owners opt to construct a swimming pool over 3-feet deep for their water-loving pets.
Another option is to purchase an inflatable pool for them. However, you might find yourself re-buying one because the material can be easily destroyed by your rodent’s teeth.
Capybaras are prone to sunburn because of their thin fur. Thus, their pool should have a shaded area. Aside from a pool, they should also be provided with a shaded enclosure where they can lounge, enjoy their food, and play with their toys.
If you will choose to house them indoors, be sure to fence the area where they stay. Not doing so would result in damaged furniture and other items that are within their reach.
Also, they are diurnal animals, meaning they need sunlight in their daily lives. It should be direct sunlight, not one coming from a window. Thus, it will be good to house them outdoors, given good weather conditions.