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Nesting Nutria

Alison M

Joined July 2010

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Artist's Description

Girard Park, Lafayette, Louisiana

Pentax K-x, Pentax 50-200mm lens

ISO 400

In Louisiana nutria are often referred to as “nutria rats.” Interesting creatures, and fun to watch, once you get past the tail :)

This one is the mother of two inquisitive kits. The family resides in a shallow nook of the pond, which my children and I have named “the nursery.”

I was watching the two bold young ones play when I noticed their mother cautiously peer from the nest. Luckily the camera was ready, and I was positioned to take the shot before she retreated inside.

“The coypu, or nutria (Myocastor coypus), is a large, herbivorous, semiaquatic rodent and the only member of the family Myocastoridae. Originally native to temperate South America, it has since been introduced to North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa, primarily by fur ranchers.2 Although it is still valued for its fur in some regions, its destructive feeding and burrowing behaviors make this invasive species a pest throughout most of its range.

There are two commonly-used names in the English language for Myocastor coypus. The name nutria (or local derivatives such as “nutria- or nutra- rat”) is generally used in North America and Asia; however, in Spanish-speaking countries, the word nutria refers to the otter. To avoid this ambiguity, the name coypu (derived from the Mapudungun word kóypu)3 is used in Latin America and Europe.4 In France, the coypu is known as a ragondin. In Dutch it is known as beverrat (beaver rat). In Italy, instead, the popular name is, like in North America and Asia, nutria, but it is also called castorino (little beaver), by which its fur is known.

Coypus live in burrows alongside stretches of water. They feed on river plants, and waste close to 90% of the plant material while feeding on the stems.5"

Artwork Comments

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