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California Looks to Add Dog-Sized Rodent to List of Prohibited Pets

They’re considered harmful to local ecosystems.

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Nutria or coypu The nutria is a large semi-aquatic rodent.

California is considering adding the nutria, a beagle-sized rodent native to South America, to its list of prohibited pets.

They look somewhat like beavers, but with orange front teeth, and can grow to 22 pounds. The Sacramento Bee reports that they have litters of up to 12 and are the targets of eradication efforts in parts of the state. If the population grows unchecked, it could reach 250,000 over the next five years.

The California Fish and Game Commission states that the semi-aquatic animals “affect the state’s wildlife by damaging wetland habitats, and put waterways, water supplies, water conveyance and flood protection infrastructure, and agriculture at risk from damage through their burrowing and herbivory of aquatic vegetation.”

The commission plans to hold a hearing in December on the possibility of banning nutria as pets, according to the Bee.

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Nutria, also known as coypu, have established populations in several states, including not only California but also Oregon, Maryland and Louisiana.

It’s not clear from recent news coverage how many people are actually keeping nutria as pets. It’s clearly been done, though. There’s a YouTube channel for Maa the Nutria, who’s described as “one of the best and nicest exotic pets.”

Take a look:

Since launching in 2017, PETS+ has won 16 major international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact PETS+'s editors at editor@petsplusmag.com.

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