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Can you own capybaras in the UK?

by Baby Capybara

Interested in owning a capybara in the UK? Well, we have some exciting news for you! In this article, we will explore whether it is possible to have these adorable creatures as pets in the United Kingdom. From their unique characteristics to the legal restrictions surrounding their ownership, we’ve got you covered. So, if you’ve ever wondered about the prospect of having a capybara as your furry companion, keep reading to discover everything you need to know.

Can you own capybaras in the UK?

Legalities of Owning Capybaras

If you’ve ever wondered about owning a capybara as a pet in the UK, you might be interested to learn about the legalities surrounding these adorable creatures. Before bringing a capybara home, it’s important to understand the regulations and licensing requirements that apply. In this article, we will explore the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, CITES regulations, the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976, and licensing requirements for owning capybaras. Additionally, we will discuss important considerations to keep in mind before making the decision to bring a capybara into your life.

The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981

Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, capybaras are protected as animals that cannot be released into the wild. This legislation aims to preserve and protect the natural habitats of various species, including capybaras. As a pet owner, it is crucial to ensure that your capybara remains in a safe environment and does not pose a threat to the local ecosystem.

Can you own capybaras in the UK?

CITES Regulations

CITES, or the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, is an important international agreement aimed at regulating the trade of endangered species. Capybaras are not listed as endangered species, but they do fall under certain appendices of the CITES regulations.

CITES Appendix I

Capybaras are not listed under CITES Appendix I, which includes the most endangered species that are at the highest risk of extinction. This means that strict regulations and monitoring are not necessarily required for owning capybaras, but it’s essential to be aware of any changes to the CITES list.

CITES Appendix II

Capybaras fall under CITES Appendix II, which includes species that may become endangered if their trade is not carefully controlled. This appendix ensures that any international trade of capybaras is monitored and regulated to protect their population.

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CITES Appendix III

Although capybaras are not currently included in CITES Appendix III, it’s important to stay updated on any changes to the list. Appendix III includes species that are protected at the national level by one or more of the CITES member countries. It is essential to be aware of any local regulations that might affect owning capybaras in the UK.

The Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976

The Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 is another crucial piece of legislation to consider when contemplating owning a capybara. This act aims to ensure the appropriate licensing and control of dangerous wild animals to protect public safety and the welfare of the animals themselves.

Purpose and Scope

The Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 provides control over the keeping of certain species and requires individuals to obtain a license for the ownership of these animals. Capybaras are included in the list of animal species covered by this act, meaning that owning them as pets is subject to specific regulations.

Animal Species Covered

Capybaras are considered as “dangerous wild animals” under the act, largely due to their potential size and strength. It is important to understand the responsibilities and requirements for owning a capybara and to ensure their proper care and containment.

License Requirements for Capybaras

To own a capybara legally in the UK, you must obtain a license under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976. The application process involves demonstrating that you have the necessary knowledge and facilities to care for the capybara adequately. This ensures the welfare and safety of both the animal and the community.

Can you own capybaras in the UK?

Licensing Requirements

Obtaining a license is a crucial aspect of owning a capybara in the UK. It is essential to understand the licensing requirements before bringing a capybara into your home.

Application Process

The application process for a capybara license involves providing detailed information about yourself, your experience with exotic animals, and the facilities you have available. This includes demonstrating that you have adequate space, proper enclosures, and the knowledge required to care for a capybara.

Inspection and Approval

Once you have submitted your application, an inspection will likely be conducted by an authorized officer. This inspection ensures that you meet the necessary requirements and have the appropriate facilities in place to care for a capybara. If everything is in order, you will receive approval for your license.

License Conditions

Licenses for owning capybaras typically come with specific conditions that must be met. These can include requirements for enclosure size, fencing specifications, and regular health checks for the animal. It is important to understand and comply with these conditions to ensure the well-being of your capybara and adherence to the law.

Considerations Before Owning a Capybara

While the legalities and licensing requirements are crucial to navigate, there are several other important considerations to keep in mind before owning a capybara.

Suitability as a Pet

Capybaras are unique pets, and it’s important to consider their suitability for your lifestyle. They require significant time, effort, and space to thrive and be happy. Researching capybara behavior, socialization needs, and overall temperament will help ensure you can provide them with the care they require.

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Space and Enclosure Requirements

Capybaras are semi-aquatic animals that require ample space and the proper enclosure to live comfortably. A suitable enclosure should be large enough to allow for natural behaviors and provide a safe environment. Additionally, access to water is essential for their well-being.

Socialization and Care

Capybaras are highly social animals and thrive when they have companionship. They should not be kept alone, as they require interaction with other capybaras or appropriate substitutes. Ensure you can provide the necessary socialization and care to keep your pet capybara happy and mentally stimulated.

Diet and Feeding

Capybaras have unique dietary needs, which consist primarily of grasses, vegetables, and some fruits. Providing a varied and nutritionally balanced diet is essential for their health. Consider the availability of appropriate food sources and the costs associated with feeding a capybara before making the decision to own one.

Healthcare and Veterinary Needs

Finding an exotic pet veterinarian who is knowledgeable about capybara care is vital. Regular health check-ups, vaccinations, and parasite prevention are essential in maintaining the well-being of your capybara. Additionally, familiarizing yourself with potential health issues is important for early detection and proper treatment.

Other Legal Obligations

In addition to the legalities discussed earlier, owning a capybara may come with other obligations. These can include registering your pet with local authorities, adhering to local bylaws or regulations, and being aware of any changes in legislation. Staying informed and up-to-date will ensure you can meet all applicable legal requirements.

Suitability as a Pet

Before bringing a capybara into your home, it’s important to consider their behavior and temperament, as well as the level of interaction and companionship they require.

Capybara Behavior and Temperament

Capybaras are generally social, gentle, and intelligent animals. They are known for their friendly nature and their ability to interact positively with humans and other animals when properly socialized. However, it’s important to note that as with any animal, individual personalities may vary.

Necessity for Interaction and Companionship

Capybaras are highly social animals and thrive best when they have companionship. Keeping a capybara alone for extended periods can lead to boredom or behavioral issues. If you are considering owning a capybara, it is recommended to provide them with a companion, preferably another capybara or a suitable alternative.

Expectations and Commitment

Owning any pet requires a considerable commitment of time, resources, and effort. Capybaras are no exception. Before bringing a capybara into your life, ensure that you are prepared for the long-term responsibility of caring for them. Consider the time required for social interaction, grooming, feeding, and overall care.

Space and Enclosure Requirements

Providing the right living conditions for your capybara is essential to their well-being. Here are some key considerations regarding space and enclosure requirements.

Size of Enclosure

Capybaras require a spacious enclosure to mimic their natural habitat. The size of the enclosure should be large enough to allow them to roam, swim, and engage in natural behaviors. Ideally, a minimum of 100 square meters of outdoor enclosure space per capybara is recommended.

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Secure Fencing

Capybaras are strong animals and require secure fencing to prevent them from escaping. The fence should be at least 1.5 meters high and be buried at least 30 centimeters below ground to deter digging.

Access to Water

As semi-aquatic animals, capybaras need access to water for swimming, cooling down, and maintaining proper hygiene. Providing a pool or a pond within the enclosure is essential for their well-being. The water should be clean, regularly filtered, and changed as needed.

Environmental Enrichment

Creating an enriching environment within the capybara’s enclosure is vital for their mental and physical stimulation. This can include providing hiding spots, logs or branches for climbing, and toys or puzzles to keep them engaged. Regularly reviewing and updating their enrichment options will help prevent boredom and promote a healthy lifestyle.

Socialization and Care

Capybaras are highly social animals and thrive when they have the opportunity to interact with others. Here are some key aspects to consider regarding their socialization and care.

Social Interaction

Capybaras require social interaction with both their own species and humans. Providing them with companionship from another capybara or suitable substitutes is essential for their mental well-being. Regular playtime, affection, and gentle interaction with their human caregivers are also crucial for their happiness.

Daily Care Routine

Establishing a daily care routine is important to ensure the well-being of your capybara. This routine may include feeding, grooming, monitoring their health, cleaning their enclosure, providing fresh water, and engaging in social interaction. Consistency in daily care will help promote their overall health and happiness.


Capybaras have specific grooming needs that should be addressed regularly. This can involve brushing their fur, maintaining proper dental hygiene, and regularly trimming their nails. It is recommended to establish a grooming routine and seek advice from a veterinarian or experienced capybara owner for best practices.

Exercise and Enrichment

Capybaras require regular exercise to maintain their physical and mental well-being. Daily opportunities for movement, such as providing space for running and swimming, are important for their health. Additionally, offering environmental enrichment, such as puzzles or toys, will keep them stimulated and prevent boredom.

Healthcare and Veterinary Needs

Just like any other pet, capybaras require regular healthcare and veterinary attention. Here are some key aspects to consider.

Finding an Exotic Pet Veterinarian

Finding a veterinarian with experience in treating capybaras is essential for their healthcare needs. Seek recommendations from other exotic pet owners or consult local veterinary associations for a list of veterinarians with exotic animal expertise.

Vaccinations and Parasite Prevention

Regular vaccinations and preventive measures against parasites are important for the health of your capybara. Consult with your veterinarian to ensure that your capybara is up-to-date on vaccinations and receives appropriate parasite prevention treatments.

Health Monitoring

Regular health check-ups are vital for early detection and prevention of potential health issues. Regularly monitor your capybara for any changes in behavior, appetite, or physical appearance. Contact your veterinarian promptly if you observe any concerns.

Potential Health Issues

Capybaras, like any animal, may be prone to certain health issues. These can include skin infections, dental problems, gastrointestinal issues, and obesity. Being aware of these potential health issues and consulting with a veterinarian will help ensure early detection and appropriate treatment.

In conclusion, owning a capybara in the UK requires understanding and compliance with various legalities, including the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, CITES regulations, and the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976. Additionally, it is important to carefully consider the suitability of capybaras as pets, their space and enclosure requirements, socialization and care needs, healthcare and veterinary requirements, and other legal obligations. By thoroughly researching and understanding these aspects, you can provide a safe, happy, and fulfilling life for your capybara companion.

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