I've seen 'em in the Northwest. Surprisingly unafraid of people, and the second largest rodent, surpassed only by the capybara.

As a trivia fact, it was probably a nutria that attacked President Jimmy Carter in a swamp, not a rabbit. Not many rabbits swim underwater and jump at the President. Not that many nutria either, but more. At least one, apparently.

A native of Patagonia and an introduced species in Louisiana, Texas and other states in the south.

Nutria look like extra large muskrats with orange teeth. They like to eat grass so much that in some areas they cause erosion problems.

Louisiana has made an attempt to control the nutria by telling people that nutria are good to eat. Cajuns are not that gullible, however, and believe that the nutria is nothing more than a swamp rat (womp rat?).

Perhaps the greatest disaster to ever hit American wetlands.

In terms of ecological impact, the only land creature that can compare to this large aquatic rodent is the sheep. Like sheep, Nutria will eat not only the tops of grasses, but will dig up the roots and eat those, too. They also chase native muskrat away.

This was dramatically demonstrated by an experiment at Maryland's Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. Scientists erected fences that could only keep out Nutria. After a few weeks, the marsh on the nutria-free side of the fence sustained no damage, while the marsh on the nutria side of the fence was devastated.

Nutria will devastate a marsh so quickly that most environmental groups support nutria eradication efforts, including the use of old-fashioned traps to catch them.

Someone please supersede me.

Nu"tri*a (?), n. [Sp. nutria an otter, fr. L. lutra, lytra.]

The fur of the coypu. See Coypu.


© Webster 1913.

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