||it is native to South America. As a result
of escapes and liberations from fur farms, feral populations now occur in
Europe, Asia, and North America.
||it looks like a large rat. Its body is highly
arched, and the head is large and almost triangular. The ears and eyes are
small and are located in the upper part of the head. The incisors are broad,
with orange-pigmented anterior surfaces. The legs are short. The hind feet
are much longer than the forefeet, and contain five digits; the first four
are connected by webbing, and the fifth is free. The forefeet have four
long, flexible, unwebbed digits and a vestigial thumb. The tail is long
and rounded. Females have four pairs of thoracic mammae that are situated
well up on the sides of the body. The pelage consists of two kinds of hair,
soft dense underfur, and long coarse guard hairs that vary from yellowish
brown to reddish brown. The underfur is dark gray, and it is denser on the
abdomen. The chin is covered by white hairs, and the tail is scantily haired.
||females care exclusively for the young. It
is semiaquatic, individuals can remain submerged for more than 10 minutes.
It is most active at night, when it goes around looking for food. For shelter
nutria construct burrows, which may be a simple tunnel or a complex system
containing passages that extend 15 meters or more. It is highly gregarious.
Groups usually consists of 2 - 13 animals and are composed of related adult
females, their offspring, and a large male.
||it inhabits marshes, lake edges, and sluggish
streams, especially in areas with emergent or succulent vegetation along
||it is herbivorous. The diet consists largely
of aquatic vegetation (stems, leaves, roots, and even bark).
||the gestation period is long, varying from
127 to 139 days. Litter size in general varies from three to six, although
it may range from 1 to 13. Factors affecting reproductive potential of nutria
are food type and availability, weather conditions, predators and disease.