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Are Capybaras Legal In Washington?

are capybaras legal to own in washington state

Capybara are found in many places in South America. That’s where they originated from. These rodents live in forests close to water sources and spend a lot of their time in the water.


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Although the native home of the capybara is in the wild, people still keep them as pets in their houses. The capybara is one of the biggest pets to keep in an apartment. This creature can weigh up to 140 pounds, as they are the biggest rodents in the world.

Maybe you have been hearing about people owning pet capybaras in other parts of the United States and you are wondering if it is legal to have them in Washington. Individuals are prohibited from keeping certain animals such as wolves in Washington.

Similarly, some towns and cities in Washington have outlawed some dog breeds. Exotic animals are prohibited from being imported, transported, owned, or possessed in many parts of the world, including the state of Washington.


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However, some places allow individuals to own exotic pets. The capybara, for instance, can be found in many parts of the world and is legal to own as a pet in many cities and states in the United States.

Capybaras are legal to own in the state of Washington, so if you have ever dreamed about owning one in your home, it is possible. Before we show you how to get a capybara in Washington State, it is important to tell you what a capybara is.

What is a Capybara?

Are Capybaras Legal In Washington

The capybara is a rodent found in most countries in South America. It is called water hog or water pig because of its love for water. Capybaras have dryer skin, which makes them stay for long periods in water to keep their skin warm, wet, and hydrated.

This large rodent loves spending time around water bodies such as marshes, swamps, streams, lakes, rivers, etc, feeding on aquatic plants and hiding from predators. The capybara loves swimming, bathing, and chilling in the water.

On average, the capybara can weigh between 77 to 145 pounds (35 to 66kg), with some big species measuring over 4.2 feet long. Capybaras are large to a great degree, and the size of an adult capybara can be compared to a Labrador dog.

These rodents are compared to guinea pigs, another rodent, and can eat specialized biscuits, hay, and assorted vegetables. The capybara is quite bigger than the guinea pig and is the largest rodent on the planet.

One of the facts every capybara lover must know is that they have their nose, eyes, and ears on the upper area of their head. Another capybara fact is that they can stay submerged underwater for several minutes.

Capybara has been compared to hippopotamuss and other semi-aquatic animals for their ability to thrive in water and land.

What Do Capybaras Eat?

The capybara has a specialized diet. They don’t eat all manner of grasses that come their way. The capybara occupies swamps, forests, and grasslands in Central and South American terrains.

The capybara has been found to stay in forests and grasslands near water bodies. When they find such places, they go underwater in search of water plants to eat.

what do pet capybaras eat

The capybara’s large size is attributed to its diet. An adult capybara can eat up to eight pounds of grass daily and during the dry season, it eats any available plant it can find such as melons, reeds, grains, squash, fruits, and wild vegetables.

Like guinea pigs, their cousins, the capybara can eat their own poop. This may baffle you but the reason they eat their waste is to extract the full nutrients from the food they previously consumed.

Since the capybara’s diet consists of more than 80% vegetation, the plants and grasses they eat are difficult to digest. So, eating their poop will make them get the nutrition from that meal.

Apart from eating their poop, these rodents tend to regurgitate the food they’ve chewed and swallowed again due to the hardness of the plants they consume. This habit and nature of theirs tell you that these rodents get the best out of their meals.

Are Capybaras Legal in Washington?

It is legal to keep a pet capybara in Washington State. While many people adore capybaras and wish to keep them in their custody, it is important to understand that owning a capybara is a serious responsibility.

States and cities that allow capybara ownership make regulations and requirements before issuing permits to potential capybara owners. Before owning a capybara, it is important to consider whether you wish to keep the rodent or not.

To start with, the capybara is a wild animal and isn’t like a guinea pig or rabbit that can be kept around the home. The capybara has a special diet and may develop health problems in captivity if its dietary needs and nutritional benefits are not provided.

The capybara consumes a lot of grasses, vegetation, and even fruits, so it is essential to provide fresh food and a well-balanced diet.

what is capybaras favorite food

Another factor that you shouldn’t ignore is the capybara’s lifestyle. The capybara is a semi-aquatic animal that loves staying in water. If you must keep one, you must provide a pool or pond where it can bathe and swim whenever it wants. Avoid keeping your capybara in chlorinated pools as it can harm its health.

The capybara can be nervous and shy, especially in new environments. If you just bought a capybara, it may take time for the rodent to get used to you and its new home. All you have to do is to spend time with it so it can get to know you better.

Avoid leaving your capybara alone as it can get sad or aggressive. Capybaras aren’t dangerous but they can bite or get aggressive when they feel threatened.

Another thing you can do is to get an extra capybara to keep company. Capybara aren’t solitary animals and aren’t suitable to be kept alone. But before that, you want to ensure the area or environment you are raising them is suitable and conducive.

The capybara is a large animal and can weigh up to 170 pounds. So you must keep this in mind regardless of the space of the area you plan to keep.

The capybara are tropical rainforest animals that come from South American forests, so they need a warm environment. It is better to have a happy capybara than to have a sad one in your custody.

You can please your capybara by providing it with a spacious enclosure or its own room with a big pool of fresh, natural water close by. You can fill the pool with lots of chewable toys and citrus fruits such as lemons and oranges.

Capybara owners must ensure their pets are in optimal health condition by making regular visits to the vet.

Hopefully, these factors above will help you know whether it’s right for you to own a capybara. That said, check the table below to know where it is legal and illegal to own a capybara in the U.S.

New HampshireLegal
New JerseyLegal
New MexicoLegal
North CarolinaLegal
North DakotaLegal
Rhode IslandLegal
South CarolinaLegal
South DakotaLegal
West VirginiaLegal

What Exotic Animals Are Legal To Own as Pets In Washington?

While it is possible to tame wild animals, you are advised to keep off from owning wild animals such as tigers, bears, monkeys, venomous birds, and snakes due to the danger they pose.

is it legal to keep wild animals as pets

The Washington State law forbids residents from possessing, trading, or owning any dangerous wild animals. Therefore, it is dangerous and harmful to own any wild animal in Washington unless you intend to transport it to a wildlife center, rescue home, or rehabilitation center.

Is It Legal To Keep Wild Animals As Pets In My Home?

There’s no one stopping you from bringing a wild animal into your home. If you intend to own an exotic animal as a pet, it is important you check the laws in the state you live.

As you know, the laws governing the ownership and possession of wild animals in the U.S. vary from state to state. While some states or cities in the United States allow you to keep exotic animals, others prohibit it.

States such as Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Nevada, Alabama, Arizona, North Carolina, North Dakota, Florida, Louisiana, and Tennessee, allow the ownership and possession of wild animals, including capybaras, other states and countries prohibits it. For instance, in India, it is illegal to keep wild animals such as tigers as pets.


Capybaras are legal to own and keep as pets in Washington State. Before buying a pet capybara, contact the wildlife organizations and other agencies in your city or town to know if you need a license or pet to own a capybara.


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