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Can You Own a Capybara In New York?

Can You Own a Capybara In New York

The capybara has become one of the most adorable pets in recent times. While these animals are not native to the United States, they can be found in many states in the federation. Perhaps, they were imported and transported from other countries.


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The capybara is obviously the largest rodent in the world. They can grow up to 4 feet long and weigh as much as 150 pounds, depending on the gender. The capybara are native to Central and South American countries. They reside in forests, savannas, and grasslands with plenty of water bodies.

Several states in the United States allow individuals to keep capybaras as pets. Perhaps, you are wondering if it is legal to own or keep a capybara in New York.

If you are contemplating bringing a capybara into your New York residence, it is important to know what the law says. Both New York City and New York State have stringent rules regarding the possession, transportation, and possession of wild animals, including capybaras.


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Particularly, New York City has a division known as the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) that comes for those who violate this law. The DOHMH will come for anyone found to be selling wild animals or keeping them as pets. This department has a portal it uses to obtain reports and information on such cases.

These legal restrictions make it difficult for any individual to keep a pet capybara in New York. In this article, you will see the New York stance on capybara ownership and discover other places in the United States where you can legally keep a capybara as a pet.

What is a Capybara?

The capybara is a large rodent native to South America. They can grow as large as 4 feet long and on average weigh up to 100 to over 130 pounds.

These giant rodents are semi-aquatic animals, meaning they can stay both in water and on land. The capybara relishes a specialized diet made up of water plants, fruits, and grasses. As wild animals, the capybara is not meant to be domesticated.

where can you find capybaras

In the wild, the capybara lives in groups called “herds.”. Each herd has an average of 10 to 20 members, and sometimes, the size of the herd can grow up to 40 or 50 depending on the season and climatic conditions.

Suppose you are keen on keeping an exotic pet, owning a capybara seems to be the perfect choice because they are social, docile, and very friendly. However, keeping a pet capybara in New York City is illegal.

While capybaras are not particularly harmful to humans, they can damage property and spread diseases. As wild animals, the capybara is known to carry diseases such as leptospirosis.

Anyone can get infected with the capybara disease by getting bitten by the animal or coming in contact with the animal’s waste and bodily fluids. This makes it unsuitable to have the capybara stay in residential areas.

Nonetheless, there are varieties of pets you can keep in New York City. The New York laws allow residents to keep animals such as birds, guinea pigs, cats, dogs, and rabbits as pets. The guinea pig is a cousin to the capybara, so it would be a great alternative for anyone who wants to keep a capybara in New York.

New York residents can legally adopt pets from animal shelters, rescue homes, breeders, and other places.

Can You Keep a Pet Capybara in New York City?

You would be violating the law by keeping a pet capybara in your New York City residence. Suppose you find a capybara on the streets or in your backyard, don’t be quick to adopt it, as it will be illegal to do so.

However, you can take the animal to any zoo, animal shelter, or rescue home around you. In the same vein, you can contact the wildlife department in your region and tell them you sighted a capybara.

They will respond and take action to find a new home for the rodent. If you are keen on keeping a pet capybara, you may have to do it elsewhere and not in New York City.

If you own a capybara already but want to relocate to New York City, it will be difficult for you to do so due to the legal restrictions. What you can do in this case is to take your pet capybara to local rescues or sanctuaries to look after your pet until you wish to take it to a nearby city or state where it is legal.

Several organizations across the United States such as the Capybara Project specialize in finding new homes for capybaras. These organizations search for homes where your capybara’s well-being will be prioritized.

These organizations also help provide capybaras for individuals looking to adopt a capybara. Before you get a capybara from such organizations, ensure you have the resources and wherewithal to take care of the pet.

What Can You Find Capybaras in New York?

While individuals are prevented from owning capybara, there are several places to see the rodents in the state. Here are some of the best places to see capybaras in New York:

Animal Adventure Park Harpursville is one of the best places to find capybaras in New York. They have the largest collection of exotic animals, allowing you to view multiple capybara breeds and other wild animals.

2. Buffalo Zoological Gardens

The Buffalo Zoological Gardens in New York has an extensive collection of rodents, including capybaras. They have different species of capybaras in their custody, making it a great place to learn more about these animals.

3. Staten Island Zoo

The Staten Island Zoo has capybaras of different sizes on display. While it is illegal to own a capybara in New York, you can have a glimpse of this animal in this zoo and take pictures of them.

Is It Legal To Keep a Pet Capybara In New York State?

As I rightly said, keeping a pet capybara in New York City is illegal. The New York City laws prohibit the keeping, ownership, sale, and transporting of wild animals, including capybaras due to safety concerns.

Capybaras are considered wild animals and may pose a danger or disturb public peace if not carefully handled. Therefore, individuals found with pet capybaras in the city of New York could be fined or incarcerated.

The capybara requires a spacious shelter, proper diet, frequent veterinary care, companionship, temperature control, and others to stay healthy.

What do capybaras usually eat

If you have made up your mind to adopt a pet capybara, consider relocating to other states where it is legal to own a capybara. Some states in the United States issue permits and licenses to individuals interested in owning pet capybaras.

If you are based in a place that permits the ownership of a capybara, you must make sure the capybara is properly taken care of and ensure that it doesn’t threaten or disturb public safety and peace.

There are several places to buy pet capybaras in the United States. You can search for your next capybaras from rescue homes and animal shelters that may have capybaras in need of new homes.

Besides, you can also look for breeders in your city, who are looking to sell their capybaras. If you can’t find a breeder or shelter in your state, you can purchase it from another state or import it into the United States.  

However, importing your pet capybara into the country will be costly and will require special permits and lots of paperwork. Future capybara owners are advised to research and explore their options carefully before considering purchasing or bringing a capybara into their home.

Where Can You Legally Own a Pet Capybara In The United States?

Where Can You Legally Own a Pet Capybara In The United States

Several states across the United States of America legally allow you to own a capybara. The ownership of capybara and other wild animals is allowed in places such as Arizona, Tennessee, Texas, Florida, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Oklahoma, Michigan, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Remember that every state has its own regulations and rules regarding the ownership of exotic pets, so it is crucial to understand the laws in your region before adopting an exotic animal as a pet.

If you have made up your mind to get a pet capybara, you must consider its needs and requirements. The capybara is a large animal, so it requires a large amount of space to stay. Also, you must be willing to spend time with the animal, as it requires social interaction from its owners.

The table below gives you insights into the places where it is legal and illegal to own a pet capybara in the United States of America.

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

List of Exotic Animals Legally Allowed To be Kept as Pets in New York?

Since you cannot keep a capybara in New York, I presume you may be interested in keeping other exotic pets in your residence.

When people think of pets, the animals that come to mind are cats, rabbits, and dogs. However, there are lots of fascinating animals, including Porcupines and Kangaroos, that are allowed to be kept as pets in New York.

pet rabbits

Some of the popular exotic pets that are legal in New York are:

  • Binturong: The Binturong, also known as the “Asian Bearcat” is a carnivorous animal with a long black coat. This animal is native to Southeast Asia but has been found in other countries, including the United States.
  • Coatimundi: Like the Capybara, the Coatimundi come from South America. It shares a similar outward appearance to the monkey and raccoon. This mammal is friendly, social, and enjoys associating with people, making it a good pet to take into your home.
  • Kinkajou: The Kinkajou lives in the rainforest but can be domesticated as a pet. It is related to the giant raccoon and enjoys eating fruits.
  • Fennec Fox: The Fennec Fox has a soft sandy-colored coat and a set of huge ears, which is sharp for hearing. Interestingly, they are friendly and playful with their owners. This small fox comes from North Africa and the Sinai Peninsula.
  • Sloth: This mammal is a cute and adorable pet to own. As its name implies, it is a slow-moving animal. The Sloth comes from Central and South America.

Apart from the animals mentioned above, there are lots of exotic animals that are legally allowed to be kept as pets in New York. New York residents are permitted to keep Honey Gliders, Kangaroos, and Porcupines as pets.

Do your research and discover lots of exciting exotic pets to keep as pets in New York.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it legal to keep a rodent as a pet in New York?

It is legal to keep a rodent as a pet in New York but not all rodents are allowed in the state. Some reports suggest that the New York state government may lift the ban on capybara ownership. We know that laws change occasionally, so you consult the constitutional authorities in your area before bringing a capybara into your home.

Although the capybara is a wild animal, its friendly, calm, and docile nature makes it a great pet for anyone to own. If you have a limited budget to buy a capybara from the market, you can check rescue homes, wildlife centers, or animal shelters in your locality to see if they have capybara for adoption.

How can I cater to a capybara?

It is easy to take care of a capybara if you know its needs and wants. Capybaras are herbivores, making them cheap to maintain. All that is required from you as an owner is to provide them with a conducive environment, which includes a spacious enclosure that gives them the liberty to roam as they want and a pool of water to bathe themselves.

The dietary needs of the animal are too important to be ignored. You need to provide your pet capybara with a variety of meals to choose from such as melons, fruits, vegetables, hay, and fresh grasses.

Is it safe to adopt a capybara?

The capybara is a friendly, social animal and won’t harm you under any circumstances. Capybara owners must show commitment to their pets by spending quality time with them. This allows the animal to form a special bond with its owner.

The capybara only attacks when it feels threatened or provoked. If you provide your pet capybara with everything it needs, it will not harm you. The capybara enjoys human company as other domestic pets.

Is the Capybara endangered?

The capybara has been around for thousands of years but its population is still intact. The capybara is hunted by humans and other animals in the wild. Their large size makes them a big meal for predators such as ocelots, pumas, jaguars, and snakes.


If you know anyone contemplating buying a capybara in New York, it would be great to recommend this article to him or her. Keeping a capybara in New York is illegal and anyone found violating this law will be prosecuted.

Since you are not allowed to keep a capybara in New York, you can consider other pets such as rabbits, porcupines, dogs, parrots, cats, kangaroos, etc.


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