2.05.2008

The Evil Eye


Another, less desirable, critter was on the pond Sunday. The beastie giving you the evil eye in the photo above is a nutria or coypu, Myocastor coypus. These are not native to our area and they compete with our native muskrats. Not an animal that I like to see when I'm out on the pond.
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Here's a shot of nutria scat. In Mammals of the Eastern United States, by John O. Whitaker and William J. Hamilton, the droppings are described as "...oblong, about 5 cm (2 inches) long, and finely grooved longitudinally."
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8 comments:

My name is Stacie. said...

His eye doesn't look too evil. If he's not native to your area, who brought him there? I'm not sure that we have them round here.

Tom said...

Very interesting. I didn't know these guys had been introduced to other places in the U.S. The last time I saw a nutria was at Alligator Adventure in Myrtle Beach S.C. They were being fed to the alligators. (Ok, they weren't alive, so I'm not sure if that counts!

Thanks for the pictures, I'm really enjoying reading your blog.

Tom

swamp4me said...

stacie,
Nutria are South American in origin. They were introduced into the US for fur farming and aquatic weed control. They displace native wildlife and do considerable damage to wetland ecosystems.

Tom,
Glad you are enjoying the blog, come by anytime.
Nutria are pretty widespread, particularly along the coast. Fortunately, they are not particularly cold-hardy. And sure it counts that you saw one -- even if it was dead at the time! Alligators are one of their primary predators, so it was fitting that the Myrtle Beach folks were feeding them to gators.

Swamp Thing said...

Are you allowed to trap on that property? Blackwater NWR (eastern shore of Maryland) lost 10+ square MILES of pristine marsh to nutria over a 15 year period...and the nutria were being hunted year-round through that period!

Very cute but very bad!

swamp4me said...

swamp thing,
Some of the coastal parks have implemented nutria control measures and they are being discussed here. Luckily, our resident alligators seem to be keeping the nutria numbers in check here - at least for the time being.

Cowboy the Cat said...

People were trying to market them as food in LA when I was down there. I tried it. It was actually really good, but you throw enough cajun spices on almost anything and it's good. Does anyone know if that practice is still going on?

Also, that is some unique scat. I had no idea. Thanks!

Rurality said...

I've seen them in south Alabama but had no idea they were so wide-spread. Do you try to eliminate them there?

Marvin said...

Me either. I've seen plenty nutria in southern Louisiana but never realized they were such a widespread pest.