Saturday, February 4, 2012

Nutria

Myocastor coypus
What is this weird, beaver/rat looking Rodent? Why, it is the Nutria! Sometimes also referred to as the Coypu.
These guys are native to South America, where they live near bodies of water and feed on the aquatic plants.

Nutria often live in colonies where they breed at very quick rates. A female may have 2 or 3 litters a year, with each litter producing as many as 13 offspring! The young Nutria leave their mother after only a month or two. They are a short lived and very quick growing species. Male Nutria can reach sexual maturity at four months of age, and they tend to live for only a few years.

Outside of their natives lands, Nutria are very, very destructive. See that shaggy, not especially appealing coat? Well under that is a very dense undercoat that has long been used in the fur industry. The desire for these pelts resulted in the growth of captive breeding fur farms... that the Nutria occasionally escaped from.

The species is now considered invasive in several US states, as well as in parts of Europe, Africa, and Asia. They are destructive because they breed quickly and feed on wetland plants, but care only for the stems. This means that they consume huge amounts of vegetation with much of it going to waste. The loss of vegetation leads to more erosion and soil displacement, which damages the wetlands. Nutria also carry parasites and displace native species. Hunting and chemical control methods are attempting to cut down the invasive populations, but only time will tell.

IUCN Status : Least Concern
Location : South America
Size : Body Length up to 2ft (60cm), Weight up to 20lbs (9kg)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Mammalia -- Order : Rodentia
Family : Myocastoridae -- Genus : Myocastor -- Species : M. coypus

1 comment:

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