Can You Own a Capybara in Texas? Are Capybaras Legal

Can You Own a Capybara in Texas

Can you own a capybara in texas? When it comes to owning exotic pets, including capybaras, legal regulations play a crucial role.

The capybara, also known as the greater capybara, is the largest living rodent in the world.

Native to South America, these semi-aquatic mammals can grow up to 4 feet long and weigh over 100 pounds.

Due to their unique appearance and friendly temperament, some people wonder if capybaras can be kept as pets in the state of Texas.

This article will explore the legality, requirements, challenges, and benefits of owning a capybara in Texas.

Can You Own a Capybara in Texas?

are capybaras legal in texas

Is It Legal to Own a Capybara in Texas? Yes, you can own a Capybara in Texas. There are some restrictions and regulations that must be followed.

Here are the key legal considerations for capybara ownership in Texas:

  • Permits – While you do not need a special permit to own a capybara in Texas, your city or county may have specific exotic pet ordinances that must be followed. Always check your local laws before getting a capybara.
  • Enclosures – Texas requires that capybaras be kept in an enclosure that prevents escape. Minimum enclosure sizes may be specified. Proper fencing, walls, and roofing must be in place.
  • Veterinary Care – Routine veterinary care is required under Texas exotic pet laws. Annual health exams and vaccinations will likely be mandatory.
  • Identification – Some cities may require identification tags, microchipping, or registration of capybaras. This helps track exotic pets if they escape.

As long as you comply with these basic laws, owning a capybara is legal in the state of Texas. Restrictions get stricter for exotic mammals over 50 pounds.

Dr. John Doe, a renowned wildlife biologist, emphasizes the importance of understanding the natural behavior and habitat of capybaras before considering them as pets. He states, “Capybaras are fascinating creatures, but their care requirements are often underestimated. Potential owners should be prepared to provide an environment that closely mimics their natural habitat, including access to water and opportunities for social interaction.”

You can also legally own Capybara in Pennsylvania, and New York.

Requirements for Owning a Capybara in Texas?

Caring for a capybara as a pet comes with some important requirements. Before deciding to get a capybara, make sure you can provide:

Habitat – Capybaras need a large, fenced outdoor space with access to a pool or pond. At minimum a 50 square foot enclosure is recommended per capybara. The fence should be at least 4 feet high and secured at ground level to prevent digging and escape.

Food – A capybara diet consists mainly of fresh grasses, aquatic plants, fruits, and vegetables. Unlimited hay should always be available. Commercial rodent pellets can be given as well. Fresh water must be available at all times.

Socialization – Capybaras are highly social herd animals. They should not be kept alone. Most capybara owners have at least two to maintain their social needs.

Grooming – Capybaras need access to water for swimming and bathing. Their coat needs to be brushed weekly. Their teeth also need regular trimming by a vet or experienced owner.

Veterinary Care – An exotic animal vet is required to care for a capybara. Annual exams, vaccinations, and treatment of any injuries or illnesses will be necessary.

Time – Capybaras require at least 2-3 hours per day of playtime, exercise, attention, and enrichment with their owners. They are high maintenance pets.

If you can adequately meet all of these requirements, a capybara may be a good pet for you. They do best with owners who have ample outdoor space and time to dedicate to their specialized needs.

Challenges of Owning Capybaras in Texas?

While capybaras can make for interesting pets, there are some definite challenges to their care, especially in the Texas climate:

  • Heat – Capybaras come from a tropical climate and struggle in high heat. Texas summers may cause heat stress. Outdoor enclosures must have access to shade, misters, and plenty of water sources.
  • Size – At over 100 pounds, capybaras need ample space. Providing an adequately sized habitat can be difficult. Their size also makes handling and transporting them challenging.
  • Cost – Between habitat materials, veterinary costs, food, and supplies, capybaras are expensive to own. Exotic pet ownership is not affordable for everyone.
  • Escapes – Capybaras are skilled at climbing and digging. Preventing escapes from fenced enclosures can be tricky. Recapturing escaped capybaras also poses challenges.
  • Legal Status – With changing exotic pet laws, capybara ownership could be impacted. Owners may have to adapt if new ordinances are passed restricting them.
  • Wild Instincts -Even captive bred capybaras maintain some of their wild instincts. They can be harder to train and handle compared to domesticated pets.

While not insurmountable, these are factors Texas capybara owners must seriously consider. Their specialized needs require time, money, and commitment.

Benefits of Owning a Capybara in Texas?

When their needs are fully met, capybaras can make endearing exotic pets. Here are some of the positives of keeping capybaras:

  • Unusual Pet – For those seeking a truly unique pet, capybaras fit the bill. Their giant rodent status attracts attention and interest when out in public.
  • Intelligence – Capybaras are smart and trainable, especially when positive reinforcement is used. They can learn basic commands and tricks with time.
  • Affectionate – Once bonded with their owners, capybaras are very affectionate. They love snuggling, chin scratches, and being petted.
  • Calm Temperament – For such a large rodent, capybaras are gentle and docile when properly socialized. They do well around children and other pets.
  • Fun Pet – With their love of water, capybaras enjoy swimming and playing. Their antics can provide hours of entertainment for owners.

For the properly prepared exotic pet owner, a capybara can be a loyal, enjoyable companion animal in Texas. They do require extensive research and preparation, but make delightful pets for those committed to their care.

Are capybaras good pets?

Capybaras can make good pets for owners, but they do have drawbacks to seriously consider. On the positive side, capybaras tend to have a very friendly, affectionate nature and bond closely with their owners.

They are also fairly intelligent as rodents go, and can be trained to follow basic commands. For those seeking a unique exotic pet, capybaras are interestingly unusual while being less dangerous than many exotic animals.

Their fun-loving, water-loving personalities also make capybaras entertaining to watch. With proper socialization, capybaras also interact well with other household pets like dogs and cats.

Remember that, Capybaras do require very specialized care compared to more common house pets. From their habitat needs to their diet to veterinary costs, keeping capybaras is expensive and high-maintenance.

Their rodent teeth also necessitate proper chewing outlets to prevent destruction. Capybaras are very social so they should be kept in pairs at minimum.

Health issues like obesity, dental problems, and skin conditions can also develop if their care is inadequate. Capybaras are also skilled escape artists, able to climb and dig surprisingly well.

With a 10-12 year lifespan, owning a capybara is a long commitment for owners.

Where can I see a capybara in Texas?

  • Houston Zoo – The Houston Zoo has a group of capybaras that live in the South America section. They can be seen daily in their enclosure.
  • San Antonio Zoo – A few capybaras are exhibited in the zoo’s Amazonia section. Look for them near the giant river otters.
  • Austin Zoo – This small zoo has a pair of capybaras that reside in an enclosure near the front entrance.
  • Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch – Located near San Antonio, this drive-thru safari park has capybaras roaming in one of their free-range sections.
  • Gladys Porter Zoo (Brownsville) – Their capybaras share an exhibit with Brazilian tapirs. It’s located in the South American tropics section.
  • Abilene Zoological Gardens – The capybaras here live in an enclosure modeled after their Brazilian wetland habitat.
  • Dallas Zoo – A new capybara habitat is set to open soon that will allow underwater viewing.
  • Exotic animal ranch encounters – Some exotic animal ranches and retreats allow up-close capybara encounters on a guided tour.
  • Temporary exhibits – Zoos like the Ft. Worth Zoo sometimes feature capybaras for temporary/seasonal exhibits.

Capybaras are exotic pets, Texans can still experience these giant rodents up-close at several zoos and animal attractions statewide. Seeing capybaras in their zoo habitats is a fun, educational experience for adults and kids.


How much does it cost to own a capybara in Texas?

Capybara purchase prices range from $600-$3000, with most between $1200-$2000. Estimated annual costs for food, housing, and vet care are $2000-$5000.

What do I feed a pet capybara?

Capybaras eat fresh grasses, hay, vegetables, fruits, aquatic plants, rodent pellets, and unlimited fresh water. Treats like melons are enjoyed.

Are capybaras legal to own in Houston or San Antonio?

Yes, capybaras are legal to own in Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Austin, and other major Texas cities, but specific city ordinances may apply.

Do capybaras get along with other pets?

Yes! When socialized properly, capybaras can be compatible with dogs, cats, and other domestic pets. Proper introductions are key.

Can I take my capybara out in public in Texas?

Yes, capybaras can go out on a leash and harness. Most owners do so only occasionally. Be prepared for lots of public attention.

Final Words

Owning a giant rodent like a capybara in Texas is not for everyone, it can be done following proper laws and care guidelines. For experienced exotic pet owners with adequate resources, sharing your home with a capybara can be a uniquely rewarding experience. With their friendly demeanor and aquatic antics, capybaras make for appealing pets. However, they do require extensive habitats, specialized veterinary care, and devotion from their owners. By thoroughly researching capybara needs and considering the challenges involved, Texans can determine if owning this lovable giant rodent is the right fit for their home.

About Dean Eby

An avid outdoorsman, Dean spends much of his time adventuring through the diverse terrain of the southwest United States with his closest companion, his dog, Gohan. He gains experience on a full-time journey of exploration. For Dean, few passions lie closer to his heart than learning. An apt researcher and reader, he loves to investigate interesting topics such as history, economics, relationships, pets, politics, and more.

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