Nutria Control, Trapping & Removal Services
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Nutria, also known as coypu, are aquatic rodents similar to beavers and muskrats. They are well-known for digging underwater burrows and breeding at a fast pace. Native to South America, the rodents were imported to the United States in the early part of the 20th century by trappers hoping to cultivate a new source of fur. By the 1950s, their numbers had grown to more than 20 million and they began to severely damage the fragile wetland ecosystems of the Gulf Coast states. Today, nutria are widely considered invasive pests.
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The brown-furred rodents typically grow about 24 inches long, have 12-inch hairy tails, and weigh between 10 and 20 pounds. Their forepaws have sharp claws that enable them to dig extensive burrows and scavenge for underwater plants and tubers. Nutria have webbed hind paws and can hold their breath underwater for 5 to 10 minutes at a time, which makes them formidable swimmers. They have large incisors used to chew the stalks, stems, and bark of plants and trees.
Nutria are known to scavenge underwater for roots, tubers, and stems of aquatic plants, which make up the large majority of their diet. A special set of lips allows the animals to use their teeth to chew while submerged without letting water into their mouths. The rodents have also been known to take advantage of crops located near water sources, such as rice paddies and other irrigated plants.
Living along the South Coast, East Coast, and Pacific Northwest, nutria prefer wetland habitats. They use their claws to dig burrows for their families into the sides of steep embankments. Entrances are usually located underwater. Some burrows grow quite large, with multiple levels, long tunnels, and several chambers used for sleeping and nursing. Occasionally, the animals also construct floating mats of vegetation upon which they rest or feed.