Helpful hints about swamp rats

"What's for lunch?"

Several readers chimed in about the destructive invasive species nutria, spotted recently near the Delta.

• James Marsh:

“Your Nutria rant is spot on. You might want to add a caution. (That is, besides, “don’t try to hold ‘em down and take a blood sample without competent help.”)

“When swimming in open water and to the untrained eye our native Muskrats could easily be mistaken for immature Nutria. Muskrats are about four times larger than a Norway rat–16-28″ long, half of that is the tail.

“Should some torchlit and pitchfork-armed citizen posse take it upon itself to exterminate anything resembling a Nutria there’s a risk of collateral damage among Muskrats. Young, (smaller) Nutria would be tough to distinguish from a Muskrat to the inexperienced eye.

“If anyone’s interested one can occasionally see Muskrats swimming near the islands in the Calaveras River located on either side of the UOP Footbridge.”

• Julie Devencenzi:

Theres an animal that lives in town now, he opossum. They’re very beneficial animals. They eat cockroaches, mice and rats. It’s possible they might even eat nutria pups if theyr’e small enough and in the nest.

“At a quick glance I think people might get the impression opossiums mght be nutria. Especially if, running through the brush, peple only see the back end. It might be a good thing to put pictures of each. Don’t go out and kill a possum.”

This state website shows the difference between nutria, beavers and muskrats — and groundhogs, for good measure.

• Bret Parker adds this website.

• Caller:

“The thing they are not doing here that they do down in Louisiana is they pay a bounty on these thngs. You put a bounty on them you’ll get some control.

“I was down there fishin’ 20 years ago at the bottom of the Mississippi, down the lower Delta, and I see this big, stinky pile of stuff on a bank down there, on a levee. And I said,  ‘What the hell is going on?’ And they said, ‘Oh, that’s nutria and they got a bounty on ‘em. That’s what you need to do here.”

• Martin Maxwell:

“Louisiana introduced 20 nutria back in 1938 to control water hyacinth, and you don’t hear them whining about aquatic weeds. Nutria could be the perfect solution to all the aquatic weeds clogging Stockton waterways.

“The State just needs to introduce something to control the nutria population. Those nature programs on television always show various critters happily pouncing on nutria. Adding yellow and green anacondas, as well as some caymans, to the Delta will take care of that. Jaguars eat nutria also, perhaps our cougars might find them tasty.

“The snakes and caymans should thrive as global warming makes the delta more tropical. Problem(s) solved.”

[The usual disclaimers apply.]

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    Michael Fitzgerald

    Mike Fitzgerald is The Record’s award-winning metro columnist. His column runs in the paper three times a week. Born in San Francisco, he was raised in Stockton. His column covers diverse beats including, sometimes, the offbeat. Read Full
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