Capybaras, which are native to Brazil and Panama, may be seen as many as nothing more than oversized rodents, and therefore unsuitable for keeping as a pet. In fact, some even hunt them for the purposes of eating their meat. However, Tom Harford Columbia wants you to know that Capybaras can be amazing pets, as long as you’re able to properly care for them.
Right off the bat, there’s one important thing Tom Harford Columbia wants to make clear: if you think you’re going to begin caring for a capybara, you’re mistaken: you’re going to be caring for at least two! Capybaras are social animals by nature, much like guinea pigs, and need at least one companion that they can communicate with. Without a friend to keep your capybara company, they can become increasingly agitated, depressed, and lethargic.
Be careful, Tom Harford Columbia warns, if you’re keeping two males in the same enclosure, however. Fights may break out and they may act aggressively toward each other. One way to try combating this is by increasing the size of their enclosure; more space to move around in means less of a chance of your capybaras challenging each other for more personal space.
In the wild, you may see a capybara covering itself in mud. This is to regulate their temperature since they have a minimal amount of sweat glands, and are highly susceptible to overheating and sunburn. This shouldn’t be an issue if you’re keeping them as pets-that is, you won’t have to provide them with a healthy supply of mud, thankfully-just try to make sure that you’re keeping them in a comfortably cool location where they’re not in danger of overheating.
One thing you will have to provide your capybaras with, Tom Harford Columbia notes, is a small pool of water. This should be at least 3 feet deep to give them room to swim and wade. Note that capybaras teeth grow constantly, like a woodchuck. This is an adaptation that has evolved due to their constant wearing down of their teeth: capybaras grind their teeth by moving their jaw from side to side due to the shape of their skull. When it comes to feeding your capybaras, make sure they have a supply of fresh water, guinea pig pellets, and high-quality grass hay. The guinea pig pellets are an essential part of a capybara’s diet, as they can not naturally produce vitamin C.
One last important thing to consider before attempting to raise capybaras, Tom Harford Columbia advises: check and make sure it’s legal to own one in your state! It’s illegal in many states and only legal in a handful. Even of those states where it is legal to own capybaras, you may need a special license in order to keep exotic pets.