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Nutria, rabbits, hares, voles, muskrats, and beavers are some of the species that can be infected with the bacterial disease tularemia

Nutria trapping, control and removal

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Nutria Caught in Trap
Captured Nutria

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. 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) is used in Latin America and Europe. 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.

What Damage Can They Do to My Property ?

Nutria Tracks
Nutria Scat
Nutria Scat

Nutria were introduced back in the 1930s and actively promoted by entrepreneurs to fur farming operations through the 1950s and 60s. Many animals escaped or were released and successfully colonized the Willamette Valley, taking advantage of the surplus of food and the mild winters. Farmers soon recognized these animals as a nuisance: crops were eaten by these voracious vegetarians, and the banks of irrigation canals and ponds began collapsing as the extensive tunnel systems became saturated.

These problems have continued through the present day, but have moved into suburbia as well. People who live next to wetlands see their lawns and garden plants eaten and the streambanks next to their yards becoming honeycombed. Nutria damage is related to burrowing and feeding. Nutria construct burrows in the banks of rivers, sloughs, and ponds, sometimes causing considerable erosion. Burrows can weaken roadbeds, stream banks, dams, and dikes, which may collapse when the soil is saturated by rain or high water. Rain action can wash out and enlarge collapsed burrows and compounds the damage.

Their large size makes it possible for nutria to girdle orchard trees, landscape trees, and ornamental shrubs.

Nutria numbers may increase to the point where an area is denuded of aquatic vegetation. After foraging on entire plants, including the roots, they leave the area pitted with digging sites and deep swimming canals. This feeding behavior can destroy existing root mats that bind and secure a wetland together, and the area can be quickly eroded by wind and wave action.

Nutria Distributiona
Distribution of Nutria in the US

Nutria, rabbits, hares, voles, muskrats, and beavers are some of the species that can be infected with the bacterial disease tularemia. Tularemia is fatal to animals and is transmitted to them by ticks, biting flies, and via contaminated water. Animals with this disease may be sluggish, unable to run when disturbed, or appear tame.

Tularemia may be transmitted to humans if they drink contaminated water, eat undercooked, infected meat, or allow an open cut to contact an infected animal. The most common source of tularemia for humans is to be cut or nicked by a knife when skinning or gutting an infected animal. Humans can also get this disease via a tick bite, a biting fly, ingestion of contaminated water, or by inhaling dust from soil contaminated with the bacteria.

A human who contracts tularemia commonly has a high temperature, headache, body ache, nausea, and sweats. A mild case may be confused with the flu and ignored. Humans can be easily treated with antibiotics.

Nutria are among the few animals that regularly defecate in water, and their droppings (like those of humans and other mammals) may cause a flu-like infection when contaminated water is ingested. The technical name for this illness is “giardiasis.” It is more commonly referred to as “giardia”—derived from giardia, the single-cell protozoa that causes the disease. Another popular term, “beaver fever,” may be a misnomer. It has never been demonstrated that the type of giardia beavers carry causes giardiasis in humans. Giardia has been found in many animal species, including pets, wildlife, and livestock.

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