I knew this holiday was coming up and was wondering if I’d be able to celebrate it effectively, but I should never have doubted myself; I’m up for such challenges. So since today is Spot a South American Rodent Outside of a Zoo Day, there weren’t a lot of choices on how to tackle this, but one in particular stuck out, and I managed to finish the video clip in time to recognize the holiday. The story lies within:
For the record, this is a nutria, sometimes called a coypu (Myocastor coypus.) They’re not native anyplace but South America, though they’d been introduced to North America for both meat and fur farming. My understanding is, they’re still farmed for meat in a few places in Louisiana because, you know, Louisiana, but for the most part the ones that can be found are the distant ancestors of escaped and released individuals, decades ago.
Back in 2000 I believe, I’d done a ‘fishing’ trip to Portsmouth Island and noticed the trails through the high marsh grasses, wondering what had made them; they were too big for muskrats or opossums, too low through the grasses (almost like tunnels) for deer, and the island not wooded enough for beavers, not to mention surrounded by salt water. It was only when I was on my way back on the ferry that a local resident informed me these were produced by, “nutra” [sic], frustrating me since I would have staked out some likely areas the previous nights. A few years later, I’d heard they could be seen in the evening twilight from the deck of a restaurant on the Nag’s Head causeway, and mentioned such to my brother on the way over this past trip. Perhaps an hour or so afterward, after finding the same trails through the grasses around Bodie Island, we encountered Junior here. The video title is tongue-in-cheek of course, since the photographing and videoing of this individual was effortless.
This specimen was the same size as an average beaver, which many passers-by thought it to be, but at least this one gave us a great view of the same kind of teeth while the resident beavers never did. Both my brother and I maintained a safe distance, able to vault onto the boardwalk before the nutria could charge us, should it be so inclined, and even my venturing down from the boardwalk was done after I’d passed within three meters and had evoked no response whatsoever – it’s clear this one was used to tourists, damn near oblivious to us. Right as I closed the video, the nutria marched directly to the boardwalk and passed underneath the feet of several people standing thereon.
I was certainly pleased with this capture for the brief weekend trip, and could happily celebrate today’s holiday because of it. Worked out pretty well, I’d say.