Are urban nutria a threat to our pets? And to us?

"I'm gonna bite someone for this."

An obvious hole in my column about nutria invading Stockton: do they pose a danger to our pets?

Or to us?

“They will tangle with dogs,” said Peter Tira, the spokesman for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Nutria prefer to submerge or duck into the bushes, Tira said. “However, when confronted with no way out they will fight and stand their ground, They can potentially cause a lot of damage to a dog.”

Cats, not so much. ” I’m guessing since they (nutria) are semi-aquatic and most cats aren’t fond of water, there’s not a ton of interaction,” Tira said.

Last, but not least, what about danger to humans?

“You certainly don’t want to handle them. The bigger ones especially. Our biologist who traps them says they can be quite ornery. The larger ones do their utmost to inflict some bites.”

And they carry diseases. “Nutria also serve as hosts for tuberculosis and septicemia, which are threats to humans, livestock, and pets. Additionally, nutria carry tapeworms, a nematode that causes a rash known as “nutria itch”, and blood and liver flukes, which can contaminate swimming areas and drinking water supplies,” Tira said.

To report nutria, call 866-440-9530.

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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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