Coypu: An illegal alien through no fault of it’s own

By Petar Milošević - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Sometimes human beings playing God wreak more havoc than they can imagine. Such is the case with this beaver like creature with a small tail and bright orange-yellow teeth. Originally discovered in 1792 in South America, this is the only creature in the family Myocastoridae.

An individual consumes about 25% of its body weight daily, and feeds year-round. A healthy Coyfu or Nutria can weigh about 10kg (22 lb.). They feed in such a way as to destroy the vegetation by eating stems as well as roots of the plants. This creates large “eat-out” where all vegetation gets removed, disrupting the habitat for other animals. They breed quickly too and hence pose considerable threats to ecosystems where they were introduced.

They have adapted particularly well to the swamps of Louisiana and also the cold of England. The early human discoverers were quite taken with their fur which is quite luxuriant, and they were literally wiped out in their native habitat. To keep the fur trade going, several farms were created across Europe and the United States where they were introduced as alien species.



The fur trade is long gone but these animals have taken to the new habitats with ease and wreak havoc in some places. Now we are reduced to try to eradicate them in their adopted ranges and bounty programs were created by the National Wildlife Federation to this effect.


The eradication in their native domain has also been substantially reversed so this species is not at risk anymore. However, the process of evicting these “illegal migrants” from Europe and North America promises to be a long-term headache for all concerned.

About mammal 73 Articles
I blog about mammals and all the interesting and fun-filled facts about them will be welcome additions to this blog.

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