Chesapeake Bay Introduced Species Database


Myocastor coypus

Common name(s):
Nutria
Nutria fur coats are fetching high prices throughout the US, an economic attraction that spurred the import of Nutria to the US from their native South America (Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and southern Brazil) starting in 1899. In places like Louisiana, wild populations were started with releases from fur farms, but some were deliberately released into marshes to control aquatic vegetation. In fact, the first nutria brought into Maryland came to the Fur Animal Field Station at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in 1939, where they were kept in outdoor enclosures in the marshes. By 1979 they were well established along the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Virginia with isolated occurrences along the Potomac River and Patuxent Rivers. Today there is a limited market for the fur, and major control efforts are underway to eliminate Nutria and protect marsh grasses in areas like Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge.
Image courtesy of Patuxent Wildlife Research Center.

Taxonomy:

Kingdom
Phylum
Class
Order
Family
Genus
Species
Animalia
Chordata
Mammalia
Rodentia
Myocastoridae
Myocastor
Myocastor coypus


Synonymy:

Mus coypus; Myopotamus bonairensis; Myocastor coypus bonairensis


Potentially Misidentified As:

Onadatra zibethicus


Common Names:

Nutria; Coypu; Coipu; Swamp Beaver


Comments:

Synonymy - Mus coypus Molina 1782; Myopotomus bonairensis Geoffroy-St.-Hillaire 1805; Myocastor coypus bonairensis Thomas 1919

Other Taxonomic Grouping - The subspecies most likely introduced to Chesapeake Bay and North America was M. c. bonairensis (Kinler et al. 1987).

Potentially Misidentified Species- Muskrat


This data was last modified on Wednesday, July 17th, 2013.
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