The Muskrat Ramble. Sort Of.

That’s a big-ass rodent.

Good news, everyone!

Scientists have isolated compounds that canpowerfully attract the nutria. The rodents can be lured to locations where they can then be disposed of. 

For those of you who live in south Mississippi and Louisiana, this is good news indeed. For those of you unfamiliar with these twenty-pound, two-foot (excluding tail) pests, here’s a brief sketch: The nutria was introduced to Louisiana early in the 20th century as a source of fur. They were bigger than muskrats, which had been the staple of bayou fur trappers. But muskrats were kind of small, and they had an annoying habit of burrowing into and weakening levees, as well as eating crop stores. Well, it turns out that nutria do the same things, are even bigger, and can reproduce at an astonishing rate. A female nutria can breed again just two days after giving birth. As a result, they do greater quantities of damage to both levees and crops because of their larger size and amazing fecundity. But the nutria won’t just eat crops. They chew through houses and tires and pretty much any damn thing that’s around. Also, the fur industry kind of collapsed at the time anyway thanks to the rise of synthetic fabrics. So, uh, oops. Basically, the nutria is yet another shining example of the wisdom of introducing non-native species to a new environment. (See also the fire ant, the mongoose in Hawaii, the cane toad/yellow crazy ant/camel/rabbit/fox/et cetera in Australia, and so onad infinitum.)

So yay. Also, there’s something poetic about a scientist from New Jersey figuring out how to deal with a big rat. 

If ya know what I mean.

13 thoughts on “The Muskrat Ramble. Sort Of.

  1. sparrow says:

    These little critters remind me of the population explosion of Al Capp’s Shmoos.

  2. Jude says:

    Except that, you know, Shmoos were cute and would turn into bacon and eggs on command.

  3. hoppy says:

    Until I read “Also, there’s something poetic about a scientist from New Jersey figuring out how to deal with a big rat. ” I wasn’t aware that this was a subtle political post.

  4. Auntie Meme says:

    Sort of sad. Nutria look like miniature capybaras, which are related to guinea pigs somehow. Are they edible?

  5. Elspeth R says:

    Auntie – you know better than to think something roving the bayous and fields of Louisiana wouldn’t be edible (or something adapted to make them so…!)! 😉

  6. Athenae says:

    That’s the look Riot gives me when I bathe him.

  7. Jude says:

    Paul Prudhomme’s sister Enola has a recipe for smothered nutria.
    So, yeah. You can eat it, and eat it in style.

  8. Michael says:

    I sampled some nutria sausage appetizer at a party once…it was pretty good, to be honest.

  9. slim says:

    They look like miniature capybaras – until you see theirlong, curved, blaze orange teeth.
    The stuff of nightmares…

  10. pansypoo says:

    just add the to the mcdonalds menu.

  11. drunken hausfrau says:

    I know fur is uncool… un PC… etc. — BUT, I have a sheared nutria fur jacket that my father gave me for my quinceanera (15th) birthday. It’s deliciously soft and warm. Also, I have a pair of gloves lined in nutria fur. In the years I lived in Chicago and Milwaukee, those gloves were a godsend!!! In Latin America, nutria provides food and fur — guinea pigs, too. Capybara leather purses and shoes are a luxury on the level of Hermes…
    just saying — gulf coast folks may want to put those pests to good use… I sure do love my little jacket.

  12. pwapvt says:

    What’s wrong with importing some anacondas? They eat capybaras & I think the nutria would seem close enough.

  13. Monica says:

    my grandmother used to raise and sell nutria’s for the fur in Romania in the lat3 70’s, man, she could have made a killing in Louisiana… i guess times are a changing. but i think if your in the Midwest or east coast of winter- some nutria fur is alot warmer than plastic (which is not very biodegradable i hear.

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