Many people living outside of the state of Louisiana have absolutely no idea what a “nutria” is, and most would probably assume that it must be a new health food product. However, anyone living in or around the bayou would be able to tell you that a nutria is a huge invasive rodent that has long been destroying the state’s coastline. Nutria appear to be huge rats, and most people who are unfamiliar with the animals assume that they are beavers or muskrats. But the fact that nutria are rodents would not be lost on anyone who has ever seen one of these critters. Nutria, also known as “coypu”, were introduced into Louisiana from their native South American habitat due to the high demand of their fur. Today, nutria are among the most environmentally damaging forms of wildlife in the United States, and unfortunately, their population within Louisiana is booming. Due to this population boom, nutria are quickly becoming pests in residential areas where they have been found within homes and buildings.
It is estimated that at least 25 million nutria are now inhabiting southern Louisiana, and this large mass of rodents is quickly moving north within the state. For several decades, invasive nutria activity was almost exclusively limited to the Louisiana coast where the rodents consume and uproot all forms of vegetation, resulting in accelerated coastal erosion. In response to their now unmanageable population size, residents of all ages and backgrounds are hunting and killing the rodents in order to preserve the environment and to prevent the critters from gaining a foothold in urban and suburban areas of the state. Animal control professionals are now eradicating nutria from sewers and canals within New Orleans. One pest control official in the state claimed that it is normal to find around 300 nutria infesting a mere two mile stretch of canal, which puts the rodents uncomfortably close to homes and buildings in the city. A New Orleans pest controller claimed to have removed nutria from toilets within residential Louisiana homes several times, and such infestations were unheard of 20 years ago.
Have you ever spotted a nutria in an urban or suburban area of Louisiana?