Home Blog Capybara as a Pet in the UK: Rules and Regulations

Capybara as a Pet in the UK: Rules and Regulations

by Baby Capybara

Have you ever wondered if you can have a capybara as a pet in the UK? Well, we’ve got all the information you need! This article will take you through the rules and regulations surrounding capybara ownership in the UK, giving you a clear understanding of what it takes to bring one of these adorable creatures into your home. From legal requirements to necessary accommodations, we’ve got you covered. So, if you’ve been dreaming of having a capybara as a pet, keep reading to discover how you can make that dream a reality in the UK.

Capybara as a Pet in the UK: Rules and Regulations

Laws and Regulations

Wild Animals Act 1976

The Wild Animals Act 1976 is a legislation in the UK that regulates the ownership and control of certain wild animals, including capybaras. Under this act, it is an offense to possess a capybara without a license. This act aims to ensure the safety and welfare of both the animals and the public.

Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976

In addition to the Wild Animals Act 1976, the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 also applies to capybaras in the UK. This act provides a list of specific wild animals, including some species of rodents, which are considered dangerous and require a license for ownership. Capybaras fall into this category, highlighting the need for compliance with the act’s regulations.

England and Wales

In England and Wales, the ownership and keeping of capybaras as pets is regulated under the Wild Animals Act 1976 and Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976. Pet owners are required to obtain a license from their local authority before owning a capybara. This license ensures that the owner meets specific criteria regarding the safety, welfare, and suitability of the environment for the capybara.


In Scotland, capybaras are covered by different legislation, specifically the Dangerous Wild Animals (Scotland) Act 2002. Similar to England and Wales, Scottish residents looking to own a capybara must apply for a license under this act. The licensing process involves fulfilling certain criteria to ensure the well-being of the capybara and the safety of the public.

Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, the ownership of capybaras is governed by the Wildlife Order 1985 and the Dangerous Wild Animals Order (Northern Ireland) 2004. These regulations require pet owners to obtain a license before owning a capybara. The application process involves demonstrating the necessary knowledge, experience, and provisions for the proper care of the capybara.

Ownership Requirements


To own a capybara in the UK, regardless of the region, a license is mandatory. Obtaining a license involves submitting an application to the local authority and demonstrating that you meet the necessary requirements to properly care for a capybara. This process ensures that capybara ownership is regulated and responsible.

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It is highly recommended, if not mandatory, for capybara owners to have appropriate liability insurance coverage. This insurance protects the owner in case the capybara causes injury or damage to a person or property. It is crucial to consult with insurance providers specializing in exotic and wild animal coverage to ensure adequate protection.

Knowledge and Experience

Before being granted a license, potential capybara owners must demonstrate a suitable level of knowledge and experience in caring for these animals. This requirement ensures that owners are aware of the specific needs, behavior, and potential challenges related to capybara keeping. It is important to educate yourself through research and seek guidance from experienced capybara owners or professionals.

Minimum Age

The minimum age for owning a capybara varies depending on the location within the UK. Generally, the minimum age requirement ranges from 16 to 18 years old. This restriction ensures that capybara ownership is limited to individuals who are mature enough to handle the responsibilities associated with caring for a capybara.

Capybara as a Pet in the UK: Rules and Regulations

Housing and Enclosure

Size and Space

Capybaras are large rodents, and their housing requirements reflect their need for ample space. The enclosure for a capybara should provide enough room for them to move around comfortably. The size of the enclosure depends on the number of capybaras being housed, but a general recommendation is at least 100 square meters of space per capybara.

Fencing and Security

Capybaras are curious and agile creatures, capable of escaping if the enclosure is not secure. It is important to ensure that the fencing surrounding the enclosure is constructed to prevent escapes. The fencing should be sturdy, with no gaps or holes that would allow the capybara to slip through. Regular inspections of the enclosure’s security are necessary to maintain the safety of both the capybara and the surrounding area.

Shelter and Environmental Enrichment

Capybaras need access to suitable shelter within their enclosure to protect them from inclement weather and provide a sense of security. This shelter can be in the form of a well-constructed shed or a dedicated resting area. Additionally, providing environmental enrichment such as water features, vegetation, and hiding spots can enhance the capybara’s mental and physical well-being.

Access to Water

Capybaras are semi-aquatic animals that require access to water for swimming and hydration. Ideally, the enclosure should include a large, clean, and well-maintained pool or pond, allowing the capybara to indulge in its natural swimming behavior. Regular monitoring and maintenance of the water source are essential to ensure cleanliness and prevent any potential health risks.

Feeding and Nutrition

Capybara Diet

The diet of a capybara primarily consists of grasses, vegetation, and hay. Owners should ensure a constant supply of fresh, high-quality hay for grazing. In addition to hay, capybaras can be fed a variety of vegetables, such as leafy greens, carrots, and peppers. It is important to provide a balanced diet that meets their nutritional needs while avoiding any harmful or toxic foods.


To complement their diet, capybaras may require additional supplements. This could include vitamin C, as capybaras, like humans, are unable to produce it naturally. Regular consultations with a qualified exotic animal veterinarian can help determine the necessary dietary supplements and ensure the capybara’s overall health and well-being.

Water and Swimming Needs

Capybaras have a strong affinity for water and must have access to clean drinking water at all times. Additionally, the enclosure should include a suitable water source for the capybara to swim and cool down. Regular monitoring of the water quality is necessary to prevent any waterborne illnesses and maintain the capybara’s hydration and enjoyment.

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Capybara as a Pet in the UK: Rules and Regulations

Healthcare and Veterinary Support

Registered Exotic Animal Veterinarian

Capybaras require proper veterinary care to ensure their health and well-being. It is essential to find a registered exotic animal veterinarian who specializes in the care of capybaras or other exotic species. Regular check-ups and vaccinations, as well as prompt attention to any health concerns, are crucial for maintaining the capybara’s overall health.

Vaccinations and Parasite Control

Vaccinations play an important role in protecting capybaras from various diseases that they may be susceptible to. Consult with a qualified exotic animal veterinarian to ensure your capybara receives the necessary vaccinations. In addition to vaccinations, routine parasite control measures, including deworming and external parasite prevention, should be implemented to safeguard the capybara’s health.

Grooming and Dental Care

Capybaras, like other animals, require routine grooming and oral hygiene practices. Regular brushing of their fur helps maintain its condition and prevent matting. It is essential to keep a close eye on their dental health, providing appropriate chew toys and monitoring for any signs of dental disease. Regular dental check-ups by a qualified exotic animal veterinarian are important to ensure proper dental care.

Socialization and Interaction

Household Companionship

Capybaras are social animals that thrive on companionship. It is strongly recommended that capybaras are kept in pairs or small groups to fulfill their social needs. Human interaction and bonding are also crucial for ensuring their overall well-being. Spending quality time with your capybara, providing mental stimulation, and engaging in positive reinforcement training can strengthen the bond between you and your pet.

Play and Enrichment

To ensure the mental and physical stimulation of capybaras, various forms of play and enrichment should be provided. This can include toys, puzzle feeders, tunnels, and platforms for climbing. Regularly changing or adding enrichment items helps prevent boredom and promotes a stimulating environment for the capybara.

Socializing with Other Animals

Introducing capybaras to other animals, such as dogs or cats, requires careful supervision and gradual acclimation. It is important to create controlled and supervised interactions to ensure the safety and well-being of all animals involved. Monitoring the dynamics and stress levels of each animal during the socialization process is crucial.


Capybaras should always be supervised, especially when interacting with humans or other animals. Even though they have a generally docile nature, unforeseen circumstances or misunderstandings can occur. Close supervision helps prevent any potential accidents or conflicts and ensures the safety of both the capybara and those around them.

Capybara as a Pet in the UK: Rules and Regulations

Transportation and Travel

Importation and Exportation

Transporting a capybara into or out of the UK involves complying with import and export regulations. Before making any transportation arrangements, it is essential to research and understand all the legal requirements and necessary documentation. This typically includes health certificates, permits, and compliance with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) regulations, if applicable.

Transporting a Capybara

When transporting a capybara, whether for short distances or longer journeys, it is crucial to prioritize their safety and well-being. Each transportation method should be carefully considered, considering factors such as stress levels, temperature control, and access to food and water. Adequate planning and preparation, including utilizing appropriate carriers or crates, are essential to ensure a smooth and comfortable journey for the capybara.

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BR-1 Permit

For the importation or exportation of capybaras, a BR-1 Permit is often required. This permit is issued by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) and grants permission for the movement of live animals. Obtaining the BR-1 Permit involves following the necessary procedures and fulfilling the requirements outlined by the APHA. It is important to ensure compliance with these regulations to avoid any legal implications.

Educational Awareness and Responsible Ownership

Educating the Public

Promoting educational awareness about capybaras is crucial for responsible pet ownership. Informing the public about the characteristics, needs, and challenges of capybaras can help dispel misconceptions and ensure they are properly understood. Educational initiatives, such as workshops, social media campaigns, and informative materials, can help people make informed decisions and understand the responsibilities associated with capybara ownership.

Responsible Capybara Ownership

Responsible capybara ownership goes beyond meeting legal requirements. It encompasses providing appropriate housing, nutrition, veterinary care, socialization, and mental stimulation for the capybara. Responsible owners prioritize the well-being of their capybara, ensure they are given a respectful and enriching environment, and take proactive steps to address any needs or concerns promptly.

Support from Exotic Animal Organizations

Various exotic animal organizations can offer valuable support and guidance to capybara owners. These organizations often provide resources, such as informational guides, forums for sharing experiences, and professional advice. Building connections with these organizations can help owners stay up to date with current information, learn best practices, and connect with other capybara owners.

Capybara as a Pet in the UK: Rules and Regulations

Potential Risks and Ethical Considerations

Zoonotic Diseases

As with any animal, capybaras have the potential to carry certain zoonotic diseases that can be transmitted to humans. It is crucial to maintain good hygiene practices, such as handwashing after handling the capybara or cleaning their enclosure. Regular veterinary check-ups, vaccinations, and preventive measures can help minimize the risk of zoonotic diseases.

Potential Aggression and Injury

While capybaras are generally gentle and non-aggressive, each individual has its own unique temperament. Owners must be aware of the potential for aggression, especially during certain situations such as mating or when feeling threatened. Understanding their body language and behavior is crucial in preventing potential injuries and ensuring the safety of both the capybara and those around them.

Impact on Native Wildlife

Introducing non-native species like capybaras into an environment can have potential impacts on native wildlife and ecosystems. It is important to responsibly manage and prevent the escape or release of capybaras into the wild. This involves having secure enclosures, monitoring their behavior, and taking appropriate measures to prevent any negative ecological impacts.

Public Safety and Legal Implications

Escaped Capybaras

Escaped capybaras can pose risks both to the animals themselves and the general public. Ensuring proper enclosure security and diligent supervision can significantly reduce the chances of escape. In the event of an escape, it is important to report it immediately to local authorities and take the necessary steps to safely recapture the capybara, prioritizing the safety of everyone involved.

Attacks and Injury

While rare, capybaras can potentially cause harm or injury to humans or other animals, especially if they feel threatened or cornered. Responsible ownership and proper socialization play a crucial role in preventing aggression. Understanding their behavior, providing adequate training, and taking necessary precautions, such as informed supervision and controlled interactions, can help minimize the risk of attacks or injuries.

Liability and Legal Consequences

Failure to comply with the laws and regulations regarding capybara ownership can result in legal consequences. This may include fines, confiscation of the capybara, or even criminal charges. To avoid legal troubles, it is necessary to adhere to the specific laws and regulations in your region, obtain the required licenses, and meet the necessary standards of care for capybaras.

In conclusion, owning a capybara as a pet in the UK requires adherence to specific laws and regulations. These regulations aim to ensure the safety and welfare of both the animals and the public. From obtaining a license and providing appropriate housing to considering their dietary, social, and veterinary needs, responsible ownership is essential. By understanding and respecting the requirements outlined by the authorities, capybara owners can create a safe, enriching, and fulfilling environment for their beloved pets while promoting public safety and ethical considerations.

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