RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Soaking up the early morning sunshine, a large nutria reclines on a weathered stump in a South Texas pond.
The big rodent is totally relaxed and appears to be sleeping comfortably without any sign of movement, not even the fluttering of an eyelid or quivering nose.
Finally, the creature stirs and yawns revealing distinctive bright orange-yellow incisors. Next, it rises from its nap and enters the water heading for the nearby shore and breakfast.
Nutria are alien invaders to the United States and are originally from South America. They were introduced to Louisiana in the 1930’s where they were raised for their fur, but many escaped and spread across the south.
Nutria are one of the world’s largest rodents, resembling very large rats, measuring up to three feet in length and weighing more than 20 pounds. They also have immense appetites, consuming approximately 25% of their body weight daily.
While this hefty specimen is busily devouring the grass along the shore of a ranch country pond, others are wreaking havoc along the canals and resacas of the Rio Grande Valley.
Nutria can do extensive damage by eating aquatic vegetation and burrowing into banks causing erosion.
After munching for an hour or so, the big rodent returns to the pond and swims back to its lair. Following a thorough grooming, which includes plenty of attention to its soft belly fur, the nutria settles in for a mid-morning siesta.
Nutria are voracious eaters and prolific breeders and that combination can lead to vast destruction if their numbers are not controlled.