Wild Animals/Nutria


What can you tell me about Nutrias (Myocastor coypus) and how is this invasive specie a threat to many environments?

Dear Miguel,

Nutria are large, aquatic rodents native to South America. Adult nutria can weigh in excess of fifteen pounds, and be longer than 1.5 meters. Their back feet are partially webbed, and their eyes, ears, and nostrils are set high atop their head so that they can keep them above water while swimming. They prefer a vegetative diet primarily comprised of roots, tubers, rhizomes, and the like. In their native Brazil and Bolivia, natural predators include the jaguar (Panthera onca) and green anacondas (Eunectes murinus).

In the late 19th Century, Myocastor copyus was brought into the United States for its fur. However, when the booming fur trade ebbed and farmers could no longer afford to feed and care for them, many were released into the wild. As a result of their rapid rate of reproduction, the rodents proliferated and invaded a number of ecosystems. They can be deleterious to the ecosystems they enter into because of their effect on biodiversity as well as habitat damage. Their burrowing contributes to coastal erosion and their rapid consumption of river plants often decimate the wetlands in which they reside.



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Fady D. Isho


I can answer general questions about any and all of the phyla within the kingdom Animalia. I am most knowledgeable on the predatory, reproductive, and intraspecific and interspecific behavior of megafauna, including but not limited to the big cats, ursines, hyenas, canids, and the like. I can also answer some questions about animal conservation, but please do not ask me how to rehabilitate feral animals. Virtually every state in America has a local animal shelter or rehabilitation center that serves that purpose. I would also prefer not to answer questions about hypothetical animal fights.


I've read about animals for the majority of my life, and have researched and studied them independently and academically.

I am a few semesters away from obtaining a B.S. in biology.

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