Sunday, August 27, 2006

New golf course wildlife pics

Or should I say, "NEW - tria?"


Before I came to Texas I'd never even heard of these creatures. They're called "nutria," and are a semi-aquatic rodent that...

Well, tell you what. They have their own web site. Seriously! It's www.nutria.com. You can read all about them there.

We were approaching the tee box for the last hole of the day (it's beside a pond), and as we came around a small mesquite tree with leaves hanging down to the ground and water, we saw the animal pictured above.

These adults are easily the size of a full-grown beaver, and until you see their tails they might be mistaken for one. We stopped and Carol grabbed her trusty camera. The first few shots didn't come out well since in her hurry she missed a setting or two.

The she eased forward and realized we had a small family on the pond bank.


Here, from the tail, you can tell this is definitely not a beaver.

Mama (we assume the big adult was mama) quickly headed for the safety of the water, but paused as Carol caught this last view of her.


The kids were not quite so skittish and posed for a moment before they, too, dove out of sight.


These animals are cute and harmless to humans, but as herbivores they cause damage to sensitive wetlands. They were imported to this country from their natural habitat in South America for the value of their fur. According to the web site, some either escaped or were released into the wilds of Louisiana, and have since spread through the Southern states.

Here's one of the little ones eyeing Carol, and poised to dive into the water.

And this is the last shot she was able to get. They ARE kinda cute with their whiskery faces, aren't they?

Oh, one last point. They have spread so quickly because they have few natural predators. But one predator they DO have is the alligator. One gator will quickly clean out a colony of nutria in a pond or area of a river or wetland. This family's presence assures me that we have no gators in our golf course pond system at present. Of course, that could change overnight.

There's your natural history lesson for today.

10 comments:

Karyn Lyndon said...

Cute...if you like rats from the land of the giants...

Theresa said...

They look like a much smaller version of those giant rodents in the Amazon. The ones that can grow to three feet, and the jaguars feed on.

Of course, I can't remember what they're called now. . .

Scruffybutt said...

Mmmmm... nutria.

Zinnia said...

Those things look like those creatures that are in Africa...or is it S. America? Do you know what ones I'm talking about? The name escapes me...

RE your comment on my blog. It gave me a chuckle and made me feel great. Thank you.

schnoodlepooh said...

they are pretty cute, but their tails are - well - they look like big rat tails! I bet they just love the golf course!

Faith said...

I saw something like those on a Nat'l Geo program but they were huge, like the size of an average pig.

Badabing said...

Cute little buggers :-)

robotJAM said...

We have these in Warwick, they burrow into roads and leave craters that busses have disapeared down !!!

Devon Ellington said...

Talk about synchronicity -- just one hour ago, for the first time, I heard of a nutria, in Calivn Trillin's book FEEDING A YEN. Um,oops, of course, they talked about eating them in Ecudor . . .

Nankin said...

Well, we don't have any nutria in our little "Town Lake", but they did pull out a huge alligator a few years ago. Nobody's quite sure how it got there, but who would have guessed here in North Texas?