The nutria is a large, semi-aquatic South American rodent that has escaped from fur farms and established itself in much of the southern US.
One naturalist says “It’s the John Dillinger of invasive species. It doesn’t just change habitat. This sucker eats habitat.”
You may feel safe from the nutria's huge naked rat tail and big orange buck teeth because you live in civilization, not wild wetlands. But not anymore. They're branching out, and the habitat where they're established may now include your local Wal-mart, according to the Associated Press:
NEW ORLEANS – A Louisiana woman is suing a Wal-Mart store over what she claims was a much-too-close encounter of the furry kind. Rebecca White says in her lawsuit that employees at a Wal-Mart in Abbeville let a rat-tailed rodent known as a nutria run loose and scare her. She says that not only did employees know it was in their store, but gave it a pet name, Norman, and failed to warn shoppers...
White wants compensation for pain, suffering, mental anguish, fear, disabling injuries, and medical expenses. Her attorney says the surgery bills aren't in yet, but other medical bills totaled nearly $2,000.
(Click here for the original story at the Abbeville Meridional.)
Don't miss a lovely short documentary on nutria in Louisiana here.
And don't bother moving out of the country to avoid them - that photo, of a nutria that demands a toll payment of food to cross the bridge, is from Flickr user gynti_46 in Germany.