Not only do coypus eat the vegetation needed to prevent erosion, they are extensive burrowers and often compromise the integrity of water dikes and levees with their tunnel systems.
Nutria are not to be mistaken for muskrats. Both rodents have similar appearances, but the coypu has a rounded tail and the muskrat’s is flat.
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To get rid of nutria you’ll have to venture into its territory. This can mean wading into swamps and other watery areas. Accessibility is a big component to successful nutria removal. If you cannot get into the area where the coypus are living, employing the use of floating rafts with set traps can be helpful. Nutria are not yard pests, so many of the deterrents on the market are not applicable to this animal. There are no decoys, chemical deterrents, or predator-based methods to eliminate this rodent. Property owners are not allowed to poison nutria, though licensed professional are given that option if they feel the situation warrants it. For the average person, most departments of wildlife control recommend the use of a fence to exclude coypus from your property. This fence needs to be buried at least a foot underground to prevent burrowing beneath it. It is also advised that the top portion be electrified and turned on at dawn and dusk when the rodents are most active. If you have a vast property this isn’t a very cost effective method of control. Contouring your banks to prevent burrows is also an option, but again, this will require the use of heavy machinery which may not be able to reach the problem habitats. Improving drainage is always an option as long as the body of water being affected isn’t a vital part of a large ecosystem.
For most people, trapping and removing nutria is the most logical control method. Some states protect these animals because of their status as furbearing. Prior to trapping nutria, make sure you contact your local fish and game commission to see what permits and licenses are required. Once you know you are in the clear, decide if you wish to live trap or lethally trap the nutria. Often, when an animal is sizeable enough to warrant either type of trap, the number of creatures ultimately decides which method will be most effective. Live trapping is very good for one or two problem animals. If you have a large population of coypus, lethal trapping may be the most effective means of removal. Given the nuisance concerns surrounding nutria, live trapping and relocation is not always advised.
Like most semi-aquatic animals, nutria can be trapped using leg hold traps like coilspring and longspring which are the most commonly used. These leg hold traps are placed near baited areas, often inside the pathways and channels created by frequent coypu usage. Drowning sets and body gripping traps are placed in areas of deeper water where the nutria must swim to get into runs and channels. Both types of traps should be pre-baited prior to be set. Nutria are particularly fond of watermelon rinds, apples, carrots and potatoes. These bait foods are also vital for use with zinc phosphide, the only approved nutria toxicant available. Aside from trapping, shooting is considered an acceptable method of nutria control. Many areas have special shooting locations and season for harvesting coypus.
Regardless of the nuisance and environmental concerns surrounding this non-native species, the revenue generated by nutria trapping and shooting is well into the multimillion dollar range annually.
NUTRIA BIOLOGY AND INFORMATION:
Often confused with the muskrat, nutrias are larger, with round tails. They are not, however, as large as beavers, growing to be approximately fifteen pounds at three feet long. Nutrias are easily identified by a white patch of hair around their mouths as well as by their bright orange teeth. Like other semi-aquatic animals, nutrias are often brown, and their fur was once highly sought after. Similar to the coat of an otter, nutrias have a fine layer of fur guarded by a coarse layer on top providing insulation. They have five toes on each paw, and the front feet are well designed for burrowing. The hind legs are longer than the front and boast webbed digits for better mobilization in the water. The nose and mouth of the nutria can be closed off while swimming underwater to prevent liquid intake. Another name for the nutria is coypu.
Nutria Habitat and Behavior:
Coypus are impressive burrowers, creating a network of tunnels in and out of embankments, though above-ground areas for grooming are often seen. They are semi-aquatic, and will build their homes off the edge of a river or stream. Burrow systems can range up to fifty feet in length and will usually house a family group of coypu rodents. Families are mostly female with one adult male. Young males will live alone until they can procure a mate and start their own family group. They prefer fresh water, though they will occupy man-made basins and canals. The nutria cannot tolerate cold temperatures like its cousin, the muskrat, so its distribution is not as widespread. Native to South America, it was brought north with the hope of raising the animal for food and fur purposes. When the fur trade for coypu pelts went under, hundreds of the animals were released into the wild.
Nutrias do not breed as abundantly as many other rodents. Females will give birth up to twice yearly, with offspring numbering around six. At four months of age, the coypu young are ready to breed on their own. At this age, males will move out and create their own nests. Burrows may be small at first, but will eventually grow to have multiple exits as well as intersecting tunnels.
On occasion, groups of nutrias will migrate in cold weather. They are prone to frost bite on their tails, and the loss of a tail would result in an untimely death. When migrating, the animals appear awkward on the land, walking with a hunched posture due to longer hind legs. If threatened, they are surprisingly fast, and can move across dry land efficiently.
Nutrias are herbivores. They feed on a variety of aquatic plants. In rare instances they will feed on mussels and bird eggs. Bark and roughage is a staple of the nutria’s diet. Like all rodents, the front teeth grow continuously and must be kept at a reasonable length for the animal to be able to survive.
Nutria Nuisance Concerns:
Nutrias are not native to many parts of the world, and because of this invasive habitat change, they have caused widespread destruction through predation of vegetation. Coypus have devastated acres of wetlands. They eradicated the grasses needed to delay erosion in areas of the Louisiana coast, destroying over one hundred thousand acres of wetlands. In addition of wiping out species of aquatic grasses, the nutrias also destroyed eggs and nests of endangered birds. The coypu population in Louisiana alone was over two million at the height of the problem. Bounties were placed on nutria pelts to help quell the invasion of these rodents.
The most common disease associated with nutria is caused by strongyloides myopotami. This is nematode which causes “nutria rash” in people who handle the rodent. In reality, the rash is the nematode entering the skin and being attacked by the immune system. These rodents also carry leptospirosis, toxoplasmosis, and a host of other intestinal parasites.
SOME SPECIFIC NUTRIA AREAS OF INTEREST:
How To Get Rid Of Nutria In Your Yard
Though the nutria is not an animal that is considered a high risk as a pest, they do in some rare cases become annoyances. They can invade the yard if they find a source of food. If you have a plant like bamboo for example you may find it damaged one day because nutria can chew on it. Depending on the actual size of the nutria they may not even be deterred by dogs and traps may not be easy to find if at all. So how do you get rid of nutria in your yard?
First you need to know what the incentive they have to come to the yard is and then remove it. If you are planning to trap the nutria or to use any other removal methods you should first become familiar with the laws regarding nutria in your area. Because they are an animal used for its fur there may be regulations on them or you may get paid for ‘harvesting’ them. Make sure to check into it as knowing what you can do can help you get rid of them quicker.
How To Get Nutria From Your Basement
Nutria in your basement can be one big scary surprise. Nutria is not the type of animal you would expect to find in your basement because of its size, but the river rat will get in there and when that happens, you need to know how to get it out. The first thing to know is that you should not try to handle nutria with your bare hands. The rodent could bite and an infection can set which can become dangerous. The best thing to do to get the nutria out is to do so by using traps.
When you look for traps it is important that you get the right size and bait. The size should be about 9x9 and about 32 inches deep. If the nutria is a bigger size then a bigger trap is needed. As far as the bait goes, you will need to place some inside the trap and some on the way leading to it. Some of the best bait that you could use to entice nutria is a combination of carrots and sweet potatoes. The traps are humane and depending on what you will be doing with the nutria you may decide to humanely dispose of them as well. Do not release them without checking with your local laws as they are a severe pest in most areas with a population.
How To Get Rid Of Nutria In Your River Banks
If you have nutria in your river banks it can quickly become a pest that extends outside of the river and into your yard. They can reproduce fast and they can then cause damage to your yard and garden. Unfortunately there are also rules and laws that you have to know before you attempt to capture or move nutria; luckily most of them are favorable to you. Because you have them in your river bank it will be easier if they have just arrived. Giving Nutria a couple of months will make catching all of them almost impossible. So what is the best way to get rid of nutria in your river banks?
If it is ok for you to trap and transport the nutria in your community, then the best thing to do would be to use traps. Traps must be gotten according to the size and the number of nutria that you are trying to catch. The bait of fresh fruits or vegetables can be used. Make sure to check with local laws as many areas want these pest animals removed. They are a fur-bearing animal so in some cases you would receive money for their tails or hides.
What Diseases Do Nutria Carry?
One of the reasons that animal control professionals recommend that you do not touch nutria is because they can carry diseases which can in some cases be transmitted to humans. The first thing to remember is that nutrias are rodents and therefore they can get diseases which most rodents are exposed to. The first disease to be discussed is the nutria-itch or swimmer’s itch, which is transmitted through blood flukes and parasites. Scientists also believe that nutria can infect humans with a host of diseases, but the research is not complete as of yet on some of them.
One of the biggest concerns when it comes to the diseases that nutrias carry comes from those with livestock. The reason for that fear is that the livestock will in some cases drink from the same water which is the habitat of the nutria. That water may be contaminated with feces and urine and that is how the disease can be transmitted. More research is being done to determine the chances of nutria infecting humans with leptospirosis, paratyphoid, hemorrhagic septicemia and others.