Join my evening with a family of Coypu
Yesterday evening I felt a pull to walk down to the ford which is about 2km from us. I just sat on the bridge listening to the water and practicing not thinking, just focussing on the water, what it sounds like, and the noises of the evening, when I felt inclined to look down into the water and saw swimming upstream what looked like a Coypu. He fought his way up the current and banked himself. After a while of watching, his family started coming out of the bank for feeding, grooming and playing. I have put together some of the video clips I got and picked some photos so you can enjoy them to. Following where your instinct in the present moment leads, rather than your mind, and allowing yourself just to sit and be still, brings amazing gifts.
This is where they live
Coypu Facts (from Animalia.Bio)
Coypu, otherwise known as Nutria or River rat, is a large, semi-aquatic rodent. In spite of being a separate species, the animal is sometimes mistaken for a beaver or otter. These rodents are ‘a boon and a bane’, in a sense that they are both beneficial and detrimental. Thus, endemic to South America, these animals were introduced to the British Isles in the late 1940s. Since then, they have been farmed, playing an important role in the fur industry due to the rich and soft under-layer of their fur. In the meantime, they have destroyed thousands of acres of marshlands. Nowadays, their coat continues to be used in fur industry, though this species is notorious as pest.
Native to South America, this species occurs from middle Bolivia and southern Brazil to Tierra del Fuego. Coypus are also found in Europe, Asia and North America as a result of numerous escapes and liberations from fur farms. Coypus generally inhabit lowland areas with presence of fresh water. However, populations in the Andes live at heights of up to 1,190 meters, while those in the Chonos Archipelago (Chile) may inhabit brackish and salt waters. Preferred habitats include marshes, lake edges and sluggish streams. These animals are most commonly found along banks with emergent or abundant vegetation.
Coypus are highly sociable animals, forming family groups of 2 – 13 individuals, usually consisting of an adult male and multiple related females with their young. Young adult males can sometimes be solitary. These animals are neither migratory nor nomadic. They live in the same area throughout their lives. As semi-aquatic animals, coypus are able to remain underwater for over 10 minutes at a time. This species is nocturnal. Period of increased activity occurs at night, when animals swim, feed and groom. Feeding and grooming takes place in special platforms, which they construct out of vegetation. They also make burrows, where they find shelter. These dens may be either simple tunnels or a tunnel system, consisting of multiple long passages of over 15 meters as well as nesting chambers. These animals are also known to make paths through the grass, travelling around their dens within a radius of 180 meters.
These herbivorous animals mainly feed upon stems, leaves, roots, bark and other aquatic vegetation, supplementing their diet with floating objects such as logs.
Coypus are thought to have a polygynous mating system, where pairs disperse right after mating. These highly productive animals mate at any time of year. Gestation period lasts for 127 – 139 days, yielding a litter of up to 13 young with an average of 3 – 6. After giving birth, the female may mate again. Thus, she is able to produce young 3 times per year. Offspring of this species are born with their fur and open eyes. The joeys feed upon maternal milk for 7 – 8 weeks before they leave their mother. Females reach sexual maturity at 3 months old, whereas males are mature a bit later – at 4 months of age. Sometimes the age of sexual maturity may delay to up to 9 months old.
Consuming aquatic vegetation, these animals play an important role in the wetland ecosystem of their range. However, coypus negatively affect the ecosystem through several ways. Thus, they destroy reed swamp areas as well as eliminate certain plants from their range. In some areas, these animals are considered pest species due to attacking cultivated crops such as rice and damaging dikes and irrigation facilities with their burrows. In addition, coypus destroy nests and collect eggs of some aquatic birds, including these of endangered species.
In France, Coypu is known as ‘ragondin’.