Are Capybaras Smart?


If you are thinking of keeping capybaras, you need to put a lot of consideration into how to keep these animals entertained and the logistics of looking after them. If you’re wondering if capybaras are smart, the answer is a resounding yes.

Capybaras are highly social animals, and like many social creatures, they have a great level of intelligence. Living in groups is generally associated with cleverness, and it’s important to recognize just how clever your capybaras are if you want these animals to be happy in your care.

Capybaras are certainly smart mammals – and many owners are amazed by just how smart. However, you might be wondering how that can be quantified and how you can tell that capybaras are clever. Let’s find out!

How Clever Are Capybaras?

It’s always difficult to accurately measure animal intelligence, but there is no doubt that capybaras are intelligent, and they require a lot of stimulation as a consequence. If you have read our article Can I Keep Capybaras As Pets, you will already know the importance of ensuring that these animals have toys and enrichment items to keep up their mental stimulation.

You will see them playing with things like dog balls, cardboard boxes, hoops, ropes, floating pool toys, wicker balls, and more. It is crucial to choose toys with care to make sure no parts will come off if the capybara chews them, but there is no doubt that these things are critical for keeping a capybara entertained.

A capybara looking for attention at the zoo.

If you don’t provide these things, your capybaras will likely try to find things to do themselves, and may cause destruction around their pen. You may find them chewing on items, stealing things, and otherwise making mischief. This is because when bored, they will look for something to do.

You can also see a capybara’s intelligence in how it will interact with other animals when given the opportunity. Although capybaras like to be surrounded by their own kind, they are also sociable with other creatures, and there are many pictures and videos of them playing with cats, dogs, ducks, monkeys, and more. They will share food with them, sleep alongside them, and generally socialize whenever they can.

Capybaras are therefore thought to be very clever, and they experience things like separation anxiety and loneliness if they aren’t kept properly. It has also been shown that they pick up on the emotions of humans, and they can sometimes be potty-trained. All in all, your capybara is probably a lot smarter than you would expect.

Are Capybaras Smarter Than Dogs?

There’s a lot of debate about this, and it’s a tricky question anyway, because dog intelligence can vary so much. Capybaras may be on a par with some dogs, but there aren’t any studies comparing the two animals yet, so it’s hard to say.

Capybaras certainly communicate with each other and with the animals around them, and communication is a good sign of intelligence. However, we need to know a lot more about how this works and what degree of understanding they share before we can determine whether it compares with a dog’s ability to communicate.

Some people say that capybaras are much smarter than dogs, but there isn’t much science to back this up yet. Capybaras do have larger brains than dogs, but this isn’t a guarantee that they are smarter. They are also larger than most dogs, so it makes sense that their brains would be bigger.

Overall, therefore, there isn’t a good way to tell whether capybaras are smarter than dogs or not. They are certainly clever creatures and you may be able to teach them a few tricks, but whether they can exceed a dog’s intelligence needs further study.

Can You Train A Capybara?

You might be surprised to learn that you can train a capybara, yes. These intelligent creatures can be taught certain tricks, which might prove useful. There may be times when you need one of your capybaras to do something (e.g. go to the vet, go back into its pen after escaping, etc.), and good training could give you more control.

Because capybaras are large and do have big teeth, it’s a good idea to spend some time training them. Although they aren’t aggressive animals, they will defend themselves if they feel threatened, and will sometimes bite in play too. This can be dangerous and may inflict quite a lot of damage.

A capybara looking for a treat.

Training your capybaras is therefore a good idea, because it will help you bond with them, and will give both parties a better degree of understanding and communication. You can teach your capybara to use a litter spot, and some people have successfully trained their capybaras to walk on leashes, sit, roll onto their sides, and lie down on command.

However, training is not easy, partly because our general understanding of these animals isn’t as good as our understanding of dogs. You will need a lot of dedication and patience to work with a capybara and get it to cooperate with your commands.

This is worth doing, particularly if you have a capybara that is likely to need vet care on a regular basis. You will usually find that food is the best motivator for your capybara, and you may want to discuss your options with an expert to maximize your chances of success.

Remember while training that capybaras are emotionally intelligent animals and they can be surprisingly sensitive. You will need to use positive reinforcement techniques and show great kindness and patience if you want your pet to enjoy training and to follow your commands.

How Do You Potty Train A Capybara?

To be clear, it is not easy to potty train a capybara and you are unlikely to have great success with this all the time – but it is possible to encourage them to use one area for their toilet. This is not to say that you should bring them into your house, as they are destructive animals even if they don’t make a mess on your floors.

Capybaras are wild animals and should not be brought into your home. They need to be outdoors with their own kind, and with plenty of sunlight and a pool. However, if you do want to train them to use one particular area of their pen as a toilet to make cleaning easier, you may be able to do this.

The trick is to provide them with some particular spots that contain litter that is easy to clean. Some capybaras prefer water buckets and will defecate there instead of in their main pool, which can reduce cleanup.

You will likely have more success with training young capybaras to use a certain area. As with a puppy, you should provide a reward for going in the correct place, and keep the place clean and pleasant for them to use.

Be aware that capybaras do eat their feces in the morning, as there is a lot of protein in them. This is normal behavior and nothing to worry about.


The question are capybaras smart isn’t as straightforward as it initially seems, but there is no doubt that these animals are highly intelligent. They are capable of learning tricks, and they can develop strong bonds with humans and other animals. It’s important to recognize their intelligence and need for stimulation if you are going to keep one of these beautiful creatures.

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