Home Capybara Care Can Capybaras be Kept as Pets in the UK?

Can Capybaras be Kept as Pets in the UK?

by Baby Capybara

Have you ever wondered if you can keep a capybara as a pet in the UK? These large and friendly rodents have been gaining popularity among animal enthusiasts, but regulations concerning their ownership can be a bit murky. In this article, we will explore the laws and requirements surrounding capybara ownership in the UK, providing you with the essential information you need to determine if these adorable creatures can find a home in your heart and your backyard. So, let’s embark on this delightful journey to uncover the possibility of having a capybara as your new furry friend!

Can Capybaras be Kept as Pets in the UK?


Welcome to the comprehensive guide on keeping capybaras as pets in the UK! Capybaras, known for their gentle nature and unique appearance, have gained popularity as exotic pets. However, before considering bringing one into your home, it is crucial to understand the legal, physical, and ethical considerations involved. This article will provide you with detailed information on each aspect to help you make an informed decision about owning a capybara.

Legal Considerations

Wild Animals Act 1976

Under the Wild Animals Act 1976, capybaras are classified as wild animals in the UK. This means that you must obtain a license from your local authority in order to keep a capybara legally. The license ensures that the animal will be adequately cared for and prevents potential harm to both the capybara and the surrounding environment.

Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976

The Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 further emphasizes the regulations for keeping capybaras as pets in the UK. This act requires an additional license specifically for dangerous wild animals, which capybaras are considered to be. Before obtaining such a license, you will need to demonstrate that you have appropriate facilities, knowledge, and experience to care for the capybara safely.

Pet Travel Scheme

If you plan on traveling with your capybara, the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) provides guidelines to ensure the animal’s welfare and prevent the spread of diseases. This scheme includes requirements such as microchipping, rabies vaccination, and an official veterinary certificate. It is essential to familiarize yourself with the specific regulations to ensure a smooth and legal travel experience with your capybara.

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Can Capybaras be Kept as Pets in the UK?

Physical Space Requirements

Indoor Enclosure

Capybaras require a spacious indoor enclosure that allows them to roam freely and exhibit their natural behaviors. The enclosure should provide enough space for them to move comfortably, stretch their legs, and access necessary amenities such as a shelter, feeding area, and water source. The enclosure must also be escape-proof and free of any potential hazards.

Outdoor Enclosure

In addition to an indoor enclosure, capybaras also need access to an outdoor area where they can exercise and bask in natural sunlight. The outdoor enclosure should be securely fenced to prevent escape and protect the capybara from predators. It should include natural vegetation, a water source, and various hiding places to mimic their natural habitat.

Water Source

Capybaras are semi-aquatic animals and require a large water source, such as a pond or a pool, in both their indoor and outdoor enclosures. The water should be kept clean and at an appropriate temperature for the capybara’s well-being. Regular maintenance and filtration systems are crucial to ensure optimal water quality.

Habitat Enrichment

To promote the capybara’s physical and mental well-being, habitat enrichment is essential. This includes providing a variety of different substrates, such as mud or sand, for them to dig and play in. Additionally, offering toys, platforms, and tunnels will prevent boredom and stimulate their natural instincts. Regularly changing and adding enrichment items will keep them engaged and happy.

Feeding and Nutrition

Herbivorous Diet

As herbivores, capybaras require a diet rich in fiber and vegetation. Their primary food source should consist of high-quality grasses, hay, and leafy greens. It is crucial to offer a well-balanced diet that provides all the necessary nutrients to promote their health and prevent diet-related diseases. Consult with an exotic animal veterinarian or specialized pet nutritionist to ensure your capybara’s dietary needs are met.

Fresh Water Availability

Apart from the water source in their enclosures, capybaras require access to fresh, clean drinking water at all times. Regularly replenish the water containers and ensure they are easily accessible for the capybara. Monitoring water intake is crucial, as dehydration can quickly become a serious concern.

Supplementary Food

In addition to their primary diet, capybaras may benefit from a variety of supplementary foods. Fruits and vegetables, such as apples, carrots, and leafy greens, can be offered as treats or to provide additional nutrition. However, it is essential to introduce new foods gradually and in moderation to prevent any digestive issues.

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Vitamin and Mineral Supplements

To ensure your capybara receives all the necessary nutrients, consult with a veterinarian about the need for vitamin and mineral supplements. If your capybara’s diet lacks certain essential nutrients, supplements may be recommended. It is crucial to follow your veterinarian’s guidance to avoid excessive or inadequate supplementation.

Can Capybaras be Kept as Pets in the UK?

Temperament and Socialization

Capybara Behavior

Capybaras are social animals known for their friendly and gentle disposition. They naturally live in groups or pairs, forming strong social bonds. Understanding capybara behavior is essential to meet their socialization needs and provide an enriching environment that encourages their natural behaviors.

Need for Social Interaction

As highly social animals, capybaras require regular social interaction with their own kind or other compatible animal companions. Remember, though, that simply adding another animal to their enclosure is not enough. Capybaras need gradual introductions and compatibility assessments to ensure a harmonious environment for all parties involved.

Compatibility with Other Pets

While capybaras can form bonds with other compatible pets, it is crucial to consider the temperament and safety of all animals involved. Some dogs or cats may not be suitable companions for capybaras due to predatory instincts or potential harm caused by size and strength differences. Always supervise interactions and prioritize the well-being of all animals involved.

Healthcare and Veterinary Needs

Exotic Animal Veterinarian

Finding an experienced exotic animal veterinarian is crucial when owning a capybara. These professionals have specialized knowledge in treating and caring for exotic pets like capybaras. Regular veterinary visits are essential to monitor their health, identify any underlying issues, and receive professional guidance on proper care and preventive measures.

Vaccinations and Preventive Care

Routine vaccinations and preventive care are essential to maintain your capybara’s health. Consult with your veterinarian about the recommended vaccination schedule for your pet, including vaccines for diseases that may be prevalent in your specific area. Regular check-ups and preventive measures, such as parasite control, will contribute to the overall well-being of your capybara.

Common Health Issues

Capybaras can face specific health issues that require attention and prompt veterinary care. These may include dental problems, obesity, nutrient deficiencies, and respiratory issues. Regular observation, maintaining a well-balanced diet, and immediate veterinary intervention when needed will help prevent and address these health concerns.

Financial Considerations

Cost of Initial Setup

Owning a capybara requires a significant financial commitment, especially when considering the costs of the initial setup. This includes the construction or modification of enclosures, purchasing appropriate bedding, feeding supplies, and necessary equipment such as water filtration systems. It is essential to budget for these expenses to provide a suitable environment for your capybara.

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Routine Expenses

Caring for a capybara involves ongoing expenses, including the cost of their daily diet, bedding materials, veterinary visits, and grooming supplies. Additionally, you may need to invest in regular enclosure maintenance, enrichment items, and provisions for temperature control. Calculating these routine expenses will help you plan your budget and ensure the continuous well-being of your capybara.

Emergency Veterinary Care

Financial preparedness for emergency veterinary care is crucial when owning any pet, including capybaras. Unexpected illnesses, injuries, or other medical emergencies can occur, and the associated costs can be significant. Consider obtaining pet insurance or setting aside emergency funds to provide timely and appropriate veterinary care if such circumstances arise.

Responsibilities as a Capybara Owner

Time Commitment

Owning a capybara requires a significant time commitment to ensure their physical and emotional well-being. Daily care, including feeding, cleaning enclosures, and providing social interaction, is necessary. Additionally, regular grooming, exercise, and monitoring their health are vital tasks that demand your time and attention.

Legal Responsibilities

As mentioned earlier, capybaras are classified as wild animals, and owning one comes with legal responsibilities. These include obtaining the necessary licenses, adhering to specific regulations, and providing care that meets the required standards set by the authorities. It is essential to stay informed about any updates or changes in the legal framework surrounding capybara ownership.

Environmental Impact

Capybara ownership also entails considering the potential environmental impact of keeping these exotic animals. Responsible waste management, sustainable sourcing of necessary supplies, and adherence to guidelines on habitat preservation are essential factors to minimize any negative ecological implications.

Ethical Considerations

Wild Animal Welfare

Ensuring the welfare and proper care of animals is an ethical obligation for all pet owners. Capybaras, being wild animals, require specific conditions and social interaction to thrive. By understanding their natural behaviors, providing appropriate care, and meeting their physical and emotional needs, we can promote their overall well-being and ensure ethical treatment.

Trade and Conservation

The pet trade can have significant impacts on wild populations. Before acquiring a capybara as a pet, it is important to consider the ethical implications of supporting the trade. Ensure that your source is reputable and works towards the conservation of capybara populations in their natural habitats. Supporting ethical breeders or adopting capybaras in need of homes will contribute to responsible ownership and conservation efforts.

Exotic Species Introduction

Introducing exotic species into new environments can have detrimental consequences for native wildlife and ecosystems. If a capybara were to escape or be released into the wild, it could potentially disrupt local ecosystems and compete with native species. Responsible ownership includes preventing escapes, adhering to containment regulations, and never releasing a capybara into the wild.


Owning a capybara can be a rewarding experience, but it comes with various legal, physical, ethical, and financial considerations. From understanding the legal requirements and creating appropriate enclosures to providing proper nutrition, socialization, and veterinary care, responsible capybara ownership requires careful planning, dedication, and continuous attention. By following the guidelines outlined in this comprehensive article, you can make an informed decision and ensure the well-being of your capybara companion in the UK.

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