Nutria (Myocastor coypus)
This rodent is native to South America and was recently introduced to Louisiana.
Distribution: throughout Louisiana, coastal areas of Texas, Mississippi and Florida, N. Carolina, Maryland, Oregon, Washington, Alabama, & Georgia Habitat: swamps, marshes, rivers, lakes, streams, back waters. They dig burrows for dens in levees and streambanks; in marshes and swamps they rest on platforms of vegetation built above water.
Appearance: looks like a large, brown rat, average adult weight is 12 to 16 pounds, webbed hind feet, 20 teeth (the 4 huge front teeth are orange), whiskers are 4 inches long, oil glands near the mouth, which are used to waterproof the fur, mammary glands on the sides, so infants can nurse while the mother swims
Food habits: vegetarian, eats aquatic plants such as cattail, duck-weed, & hyacinth
Habits: den is shared by a dominant male and 2 or 3 females and their offspring
Reproduction: sexual maturity at 5 1Ž2 months, 2 litters per year, average litter size is 5, females are only capable of producing 6 litters in a lifetime
Controls: prey of alligators, cottonmouths, hawks, owls and eagles; parasites include flatworms, roundworms, fleas, and lice
Values: usually have a negative impact on other wildlife species and often over-harvest edible plants resulting in "eat-outs", burrowing causes problemswith dams, dikes, and levees; roundworms can infest the water where nutria swim and then be passed on to humans