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  • Introduced into Louisiana from South America in the 1930s and found in or near marshes, ponds, streams, and lakes, nutria is the name used in North America for the animal known elsewhere as "coypu."
  • Larger than a muskrat and smaller than a beaver, the nutria is brown on top with lighter fur below. Its long, coarse hair is used to make felt for hats, and its soft fur is used to make coats and lining. This furbearer has a long, almost hairless tail; small eyes; and small ears. Its front legs are shorter than its back legs.
  • This semi-aquatic, web-footed rodent is a good swimmer. It can stay underwater for up to five minutes.
  • It digs a burrow in a riverbank for its den or uses the abandoned den of another animal such as the beaver or muskrat. The entrance to the den may be on land or in shallow water.
  • A vegetarian, the nutria eats on a feeding platform located above the water and constructed of vegetation, brush, or logs. It sometimes dips its food in water before eating it, similar to the raccoon.
  • Nutrias are born furred and with their eyes open. The young are able to swim with the mother and eat aquatic plants within 24 hours after birth.
Nutria range map
Nutria Range
Nutria tracks
Nutria Tracks

Nutria Facts

  • Mating: probably polygamous.
  • Breeding period: spring through fall in the north; all year in the south.
  • Gestation period: 130 days.
  • Birth period: all year.
  • Litters per year: 2 or 3.
  • Number of young: 1 to 11, usually 4 to 5.
  • Age females can breed: 3 to 9 months.
  • Adult weight: 15 to 22 pounds.
  • Life expectancy: 8 to 10 years.
  • Feeding time: nocturnal.
  • Movement: 200 yards from den.
  • Typical foods: any green plant, plus rice and some other grains.