Is It Legal to Have a Pet Capybara?

It’s almost easier to acquire a pet capybara than to figure out if it is legal to own one. Every location on this planet has unique regulations and it doesn’t matter whether they are indigenous to your area. It’s illegal to own them in Brazil, for instance.

I recently viewed a video of a young Brasiliero with his pet capybara and warning bells went off in my head. What on earth was this young man thinking? Did he not know it is illegal to keep capybaras as pets in Brazil? He obviously loved his pet and seemed to be caring for it properly, but I knew he was headed for heartbreak. Sure enough, he has had to surrender his pet to the authorities, who will rehabilitate the animal so it can be released into the wild. The Brazilian agency is very good at this and I have no doubt as to their ability to handle it properly.

As you will read below, that original video has been taken down. I doubt there are any photos remaining beyond what is in this article. I will copy and paste the text for your convenience. For expedience, I removed the links in the article, and also the statements from Agenor and IBAMA.


photo credit: Agenor Tupinamba

Ribeirinho Agenor Tupinambá went viral on social networks when he posted a routine with a wild animal and was fined R$ 17,000.

The 23-year-old influencer Agenor Tupinambá –who went viral on social media when he shared his routine with the capybara “Filó”– delivered the animal to Ibama (Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources) on Thursday (27.Apr. 2023).

Tupinambá and “Filó” flew from Autazes, where he lives, to Manaus. In the capital, the capybara will be assisted by Cetas (Wild Animal Screening Center) so that it can be reintegrated into nature.

photo credit: Agenor Tupinamba

In a farewell post on Instagram Tupinambá said that he was never against the reintegration of the animal and that he did not earn money with his posts.

It is important to note that I was never against it and would never prevent my beloved Filomena from one day joining a flock of capybaras to follow her life. That’s exactly why I saved her, cared for her and kept a huge feeling in my chest for her.”, he wrote on the social network.

I also know that mistakes have happened, and I guarantee that the mistakes I made were unconscious, without ill-nature or any attempt at exploitation. Absolutely no video with her brought me any financial results. It was just me with a cell phone in my hand, recording my own riverside life”, added the young man.

The duo became famous on social media in February, after videos of their routine went viral.

On April 18, Tupinambá was fined by Ibama for “undue exploitation of wild animals to generate content on social networks”. A period of 6 days was given –until Monday (24.Apr)– to deliver the capybara to the authorities and fines amounting to R$ 17,030.00 were charged. In addition, he had to delete all videos of the capybara and other wild animals he cares for from his social media profiles.

The influencer posted the charges on Instagram. Ibama’s orders and the treatment given to the capybara divided opinion. After the repercussions, on April 19, the environmental protection agency declared: “wild animals are not pets”.

The institute explained that, “in addition to being a crime to keep wild animals illegally”, exposure as pets in social networks “stimulates the demand for these animals, heating up the trafficking of species of Brazilian fauna”.

photo credit: Agenor Tupinamba

As much as it is believed to be helping a wild animal, giving food and shelter, it is important to understand that this attitude can harm it, as it reduces its ability to survive in nature. Wild animals can also transmit serious diseases to humans.”, advised Ibama.


As for the question of legality in your own area, it can be complicated. They are legal in Texas, not legal in California. I live in Washington State, where they are legal. They are legal to own in my county, but not all cities in Washington allow them. Watch out if you have a homeowner’s association, they are notorious for crazy strict rules. Also consider that it is legal to have a dog nearly everywhere. If that dog bites someone, it is suddenly an illegal dog. My advice is to check your federal, state, county, and city rules, and make sure you aren’t in a restrictive neighborhood.


Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.