Home Capybara Breeding Is it legal to own a capybara as a pet in the UK?

Is it legal to own a capybara as a pet in the UK?

by Baby Capybara

Have you ever wondered about the possibility of owning a capybara as a pet in the UK? Well, you’ll be delighted to know that the idea of having these adorable and gentle creatures as companions is not entirely out of reach. While it may sound unconventional, the legality of owning a capybara as a pet in the UK is a topic that sparks curiosity. In this article, we will explore the fascinating world of capybaras as pets and uncover the regulations surrounding their ownership in the United Kingdom. Get ready to be captivated by these charming creatures and the potential for them to become part of your family.

Is it legal to own a capybara as a pet in the UK?

Laws and Regulations

Wild Animals Act 1976

The Wild Animals Act 1976 is the primary legislation that governs the ownership of exotic animals in the United Kingdom, including capybaras. This act ensures that the welfare needs of these animals are met and also aims to protect public safety. It outlines the legal requirements and restrictions concerning the ownership and keeping of wild animals as pets, including capybaras.

Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976

In addition to the Wild Animals Act 1976, the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 specifically addresses the ownership of animals that are considered to be dangerous. Capybaras are not typically classified as dangerous animals, but it is still essential to understand the provisions under this act and how they may apply to other exotic pets.

Exotic Pets Licensing

The ownership of capybaras and other exotic pets in the UK requires a license. This license is obtained through the local council and ensures that the owner meets specific criteria and standards in providing proper care, housing, and welfare for the animal. It is crucial to understand and comply with the exotic pets licensing requirements to legally own a capybara as a pet.

CITES Regulations

Capybaras are native to South America, and their trade is regulated under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). CITES ensures that the international trade of capybaras and their parts does not threaten their survival. Certain rules and regulations must be followed when importing capybaras or their products from abroad. Understanding CITES regulations is essential to prevent illegal trade and uphold conservation efforts.

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Capybaras’ Legal Classification

Wild Animal or Pet?

Determining whether capybaras are considered wild animals or pets can impact their legal classification. In the UK, capybaras are generally regarded as exotic pets rather than wildlife. However, individual animals may still be subject to additional regulations based on their origin, specific characteristics, or potential risks.

Capybara’s CITES Appendix Status

Under CITES, capybaras are not listed as endangered or threatened species. They are classified under Appendix II, which means that their trade is regulated to ensure sustainability. This classification acknowledges the importance of monitoring and managing the international trade of capybaras to protect their populations and prevent overexploitation.

Is it legal to own a capybara as a pet in the UK?

Ownership Restrictions

Prohibited Species

While capybaras are generally allowed as pets in the UK, certain species are prohibited from ownership due to their potential danger or invasive nature. It is crucial to check the prohibited species list to ensure that the specific type of capybara you intend to own is not restricted by law.

Restricted Species

Some capybara species may have specific restrictions on ownership due to conservation concerns or potential risks. It is essential to research and identify the species you wish to own and determine if any restrictions apply.

General Requirements for Ownership

Ownership of capybaras, like any exotic pet, comes with general requirements that must be met to ensure the animal’s well-being. These may include providing appropriate housing, nutrition, veterinary care, socialization, and enrichment. Compliance with these requirements is necessary to legally own and responsibly care for a capybara.

Exemptions and Licenses

Wild Animals Act Exemptions

The Wild Animals Act does provide some exemptions based on specific circumstances. These exemptions may apply to certain individuals, organizations, or situations where the act’s requirements may be waived or modified. Understanding these exemptions is crucial when considering ownership of a capybara.

Dangerous Wild Animals Act Licenses

If a capybara is classified as a dangerous animal, as determined by the Dangerous Wild Animals Act, a specific license must be obtained to legally own and keep the animal. This license requires the owner to meet additional safety regulations and demonstrate the ability to care for and handle the animal appropriately.

CITES Permits

When importing capybaras or their products from abroad, CITES permits may be required. These permits ensure that the trade is legal and sustainable. If you are considering obtaining a capybara from outside the UK, it is essential to understand the CITES permit requirements and obtain the necessary permits before bringing the animal into the country.

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Is it legal to own a capybara as a pet in the UK?

Responsibilities of Capybara Ownership

Housing Requirements

Capybaras have unique housing requirements that must be met to ensure their well-being. They require large enclosures with access to water for swimming, mud wallows, and ample space to roam. Additionally, capybaras are social animals and should ideally be kept in pairs or small groups to meet their social needs.

Environmental Enrichment

To prevent boredom and promote natural behaviors, capybaras require environmental enrichment. This may include providing opportunities for digging, foraging, and providing objects for physical and mental stimulation. It is essential to research and implement appropriate enrichment strategies to keep your capybara mentally and physically healthy.

Feeding and Diet

Capybaras have specific dietary requirements that must be met to maintain their health. They are herbivores and require a diet comprising mainly of grasses, hay, and fresh vegetables. Access to clean drinking water is also essential. Consult with a veterinarian or a specialist to ensure your capybara’s diet is appropriate and balanced.

Veterinary Care

Just like any other pet, capybaras require regular veterinary care. Finding a veterinarian with experience in exotic animals, including capybaras, is crucial to ensure your pet’s well-being. Routine vaccinations, check-ups, and preventative healthcare measures must be provided to maintain the capybara’s overall health.

Interaction and Socialization

Capybaras are social animals and thrive on interaction and companionship. Regular interaction, handling, and socialization with their owners or other capybaras are essential to maintain their mental well-being. Providing a stimulating and enriching environment that includes appropriate social interactions is crucial for a happy and healthy capybara.

Legal Implications

Owning a capybara comes with legal obligations that must be adhered to. Failure to comply with the laws and regulations outlined by the Wild Animals Act, Dangerous Wild Animals Act, and CITES may lead to serious consequences such as seizure of the animal, financial penalties, and potentially a criminal record. It is vital to understand and comply with all legal requirements to avoid these legal implications.

Consequences of Illegal Ownership

Seizure of the Animal

If found to be in violation of the relevant laws and regulations, including owning a capybara without the necessary permits or licenses, the animal may be seized by the authorities. Seizure could result in the loss of the pet and potential harm to the animal if not handled appropriately.

Financial Penalties

Illegal ownership of a capybara can result in substantial financial penalties. Fines and legal fees can quickly accumulate, leading to a significant financial burden for the owner. It is important to ensure legal compliance to avoid these financial consequences.

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Criminal Record

Engaging in illegal ownership of capybaras may lead to a criminal record. This record can have long-lasting consequences and negatively impact various aspects of life, including employment prospects and personal reputation. It is crucial to prioritize legal means of ownership to avoid the potential implications of a criminal record.

Considerations Before Getting a Capybara

Research and Education

Before considering capybara ownership, it is essential to invest time in thorough research and education. Understanding their unique needs, behaviors, and challenges associated with their care is crucial to determine if you are prepared to meet these requirements responsibly.

Suitability as a Pet

Capybaras are not suitable pets for everyone. Their large size, specific environmental needs, and social requirements make them a unique choice. Consider your living situation, available time, resources, and commitment to ensure you can provide a suitable and fulfilling home for a capybara.

Available Resources and Support

Owning a capybara requires access to appropriate resources and support. Ensure there are local veterinarians knowledgeable about capybara care, as well as access to suitable enclosures, ample space, and proper diet supplies. Having a supportive network and resources within your community is crucial to provide optimal care for your pet.

Alternative Pets

If after careful consideration, owning a capybara does not seem suitable, there are a variety of alternative pets to consider. Research other exotic pets that may better suit your lifestyle, interests, and ability to provide appropriate care and housing.

Obtaining a Capybara

Approved Breeders

When considering getting a capybara, it is important to find reputable and approved breeders. Approved breeders ensure that the animals are well cared for, healthy, and legally obtained. Research and find breeders who prioritize the welfare of their animals and have experience in capybara breeding.

Rescue Organizations

Rescue organizations may occasionally have capybaras available for adoption. These organizations provide homes for capybaras in need and may have procedures in place to ensure the animals are placed in suitable homes. Consider adoption as a compassionate option to provide a loving home for a capybara in need.

Importing from Abroad

If you are unable to find a suitable capybara locally, importing from abroad may be an option. However, this process involves additional considerations, such as CITES permits, legal compliance, and transport logistics. Research the legalities and requirements for importing a capybara carefully before pursuing this option.

Community and Networking

Capybara Owner Associations

Capybara owner associations can provide a valuable network of support, advice, and resources specific to capybara ownership. These associations often organize events, educational programs, and serve as a platform for capybara owners to connect and share experiences. Joining such associations can enhance your experience as a capybara owner and provide valuable insights.

Online Forums and Groups

Online forums and social media groups dedicated to exotic pet owners, including capybara enthusiasts, can be a helpful resource. These platforms allow you to ask questions, seek advice, and connect with other capybara owners who may have faced similar challenges. Engaging in these communities can provide a sense of camaraderie and support.


Owning a capybara as a pet in the UK is a unique responsibility that carries legal obligations, but it can also be a rewarding experience for those who are well-prepared. Understanding the laws and regulations, meeting the specific requirements of capybara care, and prioritizing their well-being are essential. By adhering to the guidelines and obtaining the necessary licenses and permits, you can enjoy a fulfilling relationship with your capybara while ensuring the welfare and conservation of this fascinating species.

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