Remember last week I was elated after seeing a beaver? That kinda didn’t happen. Turns out that the subject of my ecstatic interest was actually the unceremonious nutria (myocastor coypus), or, as I like to call him, the giant wannabe-beaver-rat.
I spotted the (apparently solitary) bugger again yesterday, and I was confused when I finally got a look at his rounded tail. Was it a huge rat? I followed him down the creek, because I am nothing if not a strange man with a lot of time on my hands. He appeared to submerge, swim underwater through an underground pipe for about three minutes, and then emerge casually on the other side of the road where the creek terminates in a sump.
I should have known it was a nutria before I looked him up. Believe it or not, I actually have heard of them before. A horror movie nerd like me remembers the species was supposedly used to portray giant rats for either “Willard” (2003) or its 1971 original. (I do forget which.)
They’re bad guys, too — at least from an environmental perspective. They’re an invasive, rapidly reproducing, semi-aquatic species that destroy wetlands and compete with the native muskrat. They themselves are not native; they were brought to the United States and Europe from South America by fur ranchers.
Anyway … if you’re able to catch 2003’s “Willard,” I highly recommend it. It starts Crispin Glover and R. Lee Ermey, and was penned by “X Files” greats Glen Morgan and James Wong. For the full spooky experience, first read Stephen Gilbert’s excellent 1969 novel, “Ratman’s Notebooks,” which served as the basis for both films.
Photo credit: By Philippe Amelant – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2027013.