How Many Nutria are Too Many Nutria?. More than 80,000 acres of wetlands are impacted by nutria! Unless nutria populations are reduced, restoring coastal marshes will not be successful!
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Unless nutria populations are reduced, restoring coastal marshes will not be successful!
The Coastwide Nutria Control Program, and the promotion of nutria meat as a high-protein, low-fat food source, is the main hope for Louisiana\'s coast.
The digits are used to groom and to dig roots, and burrows, and are used in feeding. The hindfoot consists of 4webbed, clawed toes and one un-webbed toe.
The hind legs are large compared with the forelegs. When moving on land, the nutria\'s chest drags on the ground and its back appears hunched. Although appearing awkward, the nutria is capable of fast overland travel for considerable distances.
The ears are small and the eyes are set high on the head. The nose and mouth are valvular (i.e., can be closed to prevent entry of water), and nutria are capable of swimming long distances under-water. When pursed while under-water, nutria can see and will take evasive action to avoid capture.
Cool Fact: Females have four pairs of mammary glands that are located on the side of the body, rather than on the belly. Presumably, this positioning of the mammary glands allow the young to nurse with their nose above the water\'s surface while the mother is floating.
Nutriaare thought of as colonial because the same den is shared by the dominant male with 2-3 females and their off-spring.
Males are slightly larger then females. Nutria weigh an average of 12.0 pounds (5.4 kg).
Nutria breed year round and are extremely prolific. Juveniles reach sexual maturity between 3 - 9 months. With a gestation period of 130 days, in one year, an adult nutria can produce two litters and be pregnant for a third.
The litter numbers range from 1-13 with an average of 4.5 young. Females can breed within a day of having a litter.
At birth, they are fully furred and the eyes are open. They feed on vegetation w/in hours and nurse for 7-8 weeks.
Favored foods for nutria include rushes, reeds, cattails, arrowhead, square-stem spike rush and sawgrass. Sugarcane, alfalfa, corn and ice are also eaten if available.
Nutria have also been attributed with the decline of the muskrat populations in Louisiana. They have been reported to compete with muskrats and water fowl for trophic resources.
Muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus) next to its house in a cattail-dominated marsh.
Chef Philippe Parola has been hired by federal and the Louisiana state governments to conduct a nation-wide promotion for nutria meat to help preserve the wetlands of the southern states.
Today, thousands of pounds of nutria meat in Louisiana move across state lines.
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WHAT IS NUTRIA MEAT LIKE?? It is a very lean red meat and is very similar to rabbit meat and tastes like dark turkey meat.IS IT WHOLESOME TO EAT?Yes. Nutria are still harvested primarily for the pelt, but must be stored and processed under guidelines for other food grade meat. Only nutria processed at a state inspected facility can be sold for human consumption.
In addition to Chef Philippe Parola, many premier Louisiana chefs have created nutria dishes.
AREN\'T NUTRIA DIRTY ANIMALS?NO! Quite the contrary. Nutria occurring in the wild are clean animals. Contrary to their look-alikes, rats, which are omnivores, nutria consume exclusively plant life.
The Program will consist of an economic incentive of $4 per nutria tail delivered to collection centers established in coastal Louisiana.
The goal is to encourage the harvest of up to 400,000 nutria annually. This program is funded by Coastal Wetlands Planning Protection and Restoration Act