The Back Yard Zoo by Jim Dunlap

Jim Dunlap     It's time for nutria news! Once upon a time there was a rodent. He was kidnapped out of South America and flung into the plants that clog our waterways from Texas to Florida. It was believed that this would solve our plant problem. He does like water plants. He likes all kinds of plants! Therein lies the problem. When the nutria have eaten everything around the pond they will move out into the surrounding beautifully landscaped property and proceed to systematically denude! If you have visited Big Lake Park you are aware of the nutria dilemma.

     He looks like a rat with webbed feet and a growth hormone problem. As a result of having poor eyesight, he acts slow and dumb. Just in case I run out of space before I'm through talking, let me get to the point. You will see more and more nutria showing up at your local park ponds. They might act like pets and get real close to you. Beware! Those big, yellow, piano-key-sized teeth are not just there to aid them in whistling! They are quick and unpredictable. Hey kids! Don't try to pet or pick them up. Now for some quick bits of natural history. They are native to South America where they are farm raised for their fur. They grow to the size of a medium house cat. The females produce three to four litters of young per year averaging five babies. The young are born fully furred and eyes open. They can eat plants within hours of birth. They den in holes in the bank of ponds.

     

If you should find yourself in a state of nutria nervosa, (that borders Oklahoma I think!), there is help available. Email me for advice and a plan of action.


     We will have Buford here for a while then he will be bussed to a beautiful bayou in an undisclosed location.


Jim Dunlap, jim.dunlap@pisd.edu


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