Friday, September 21, 2012

Coypu family

Having had a few up-close and brief encounters with Coypu on the Trailcam over the last few days, it was good to catch up with some 'in the flesh' yesterday evening. I had driven down to the impressive bridge at Glenay at dusk and, looking down from the parapet, realised that I was looking at a whole family. I've only ever seen individuals in the past. I've never noticed before just how much Coypu enjoy a good scratch - it's actually quite comical to watch! A Facebook friend shared last night how, in France, he and his wife had been given some meat of the Ragondin. It's reckoned to be lean and low in cholesterol, though the main reason they have been introduced to various places across the globe from their original home in South America was for their soft underfur, or nutria.

This hasn't been without problems. A number escaped from fur farms in East Anglia after their introduction in the late 1920s, and subsequently caused a real hoohaa as their massive holes did a lot of damage to the area, a fact that led to them being declared persona non grata and being exterminated until none remained (although, like the Beast of Bodmin, there are persistent reports of sightings in a few areas!).

If you believe what some sources report, these massive rodents (1m long and 7 kgs plus!) can give birth up to 13 offspring in one go (with 3 litters just about feasible over a season). The young stay with the mother for 7-8 weeks. The mother has teats high up on her flanks which allows for feeding whilst in the water! They really are fascinating creatures and I will try to spend some more time watching them in the few days we have left before the end of the holiday!

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