How to get rid of Nutria Coypu

nutria coypu myocastor coypus how to get rid of

The coypu, also known as the river-rat or nutria is a semi-aquatic rodent originally native to South America, but which has since have been introduced to North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa as well. They were mainly introduced in these countries to be bread for their fur, but their destructive feeding and burrowing habits have transformed the nutria into an invasive species.

nutria coypu myocastor coypus how to get rid of

Nutria consume large amounts of vegetation, and because of the fact that they also breed quickly, they can cause a lot of damage, especially if they end up reaching an area full of crops. An individual consumes around 25% of its body weight daily, and an average nutria weight about 5.4 kg (12 lb). They can eat the stems of the plants, or they can dig through the soil in search for roots and rhizomes, being thus able to decimate crops if left alone. They create patches in the environment, where vegetation disappears, and manage to disrupt the habits of other animals as well. As demand for nutria fur declined, they have reached the level of pest in many areas, managing to destroy aquatic vegetation, marshes, and irrigation systems, to chew through human-made items, such as tires and wooden house panelling, to cause the erosion of river banks, and to displace native animals.

Signs of infestation

Other than through sightings, you can notice the presence of nutrias through the damage they can make to vegetation. Beavers and muskrats can also do similar damage, so the best way in identifying the pest you are dealing with is by examining the signs they leave behind. Besides the footprints that they leave, nutria also leave behind a drag mark left by their tail, which is evident between the footprints. Their droppings can also be found along trails, at feeding sites, or even floating in in the water. They are dark-green, almost black in colour, cylindrical and are almost 5 cm long.
It is important to correctly choose the timing and the location where you want to apply the control methods you will choose. If your sugarcane fields are attacked, it is better to fight the rodents during the growing season, after damage has started, as by this time nutrias will be fairly stationary and concentrated in drainages adjacent to fields. They can be best controlled where they are causing damage and where they are most active, as you can also use baits to lore them to specific locations, where they can be controlled easily.

The first step is trying to modify the habitat and make your property inhospitable for these rodents. Make sure your land is well-drained and free of dense, weedy vegetation, as this will also make it unattractive to nutria. Weed management also helps when it comes to protecting agricultural areas and removing unnecessary vegetation such as bushes, shrubs, thickets can also help as they can become home covers for nutrias.
Drainage that holds water can be used by nutria as a travel route, so you need to eliminate standing water in order to reduce their attractiveness to the area. If possible, you can manipulate the water level in a certain area and decrease it in summer, which will cause the rodents to concentrate in the remaining aquatic habitat, will increase their completion for food, expose them to predators, and make trapping easier. Increasing the water level in winter will drive them out of their burrows, expose them to cold weather and make trapping easier as well.

Traps for Nutria Coypu control:

Traps are used to monitor or reduce the population of insects or other pests. They can be used against crawling, flying insects, mice, rats, cats, dogs, snakes or other pests. Mechanical traps are ideal for catching these pests, as they can be used repetitively.

The most common way of removing nutria from your property is by trapping them. It might be a slower method, as you can only catch one at a time, but it is effective, and once they are caught, you can relocate the rodents far away from your property. You can use a single door trap or a double door trap, and you need to bait them with things that nutria like to eat, such as vegetables. Depending on the number of individuals you are confronted with, there are a few trapping possibilities. As nutria might be protected by law, before choosing the traps and beginning to act against the rodents, it is best to first check and see if you need any permits, or if it is legal in your area to use killing traps, or to relocate the nutria that you catch. Once you have established the legality of your actions, you can choose between several types of trapping methods.
In order to catch nutria, it is important to pre-bait the area for a few days. You can use corn, as they love it, and once found, thy will expect more of it every day, and return to the area. Once they are attracted to the trap location, you can set the trap, and be prepared to deal with the animal, after it gets caught.

Leghold traps are the most common used to catch nutria, as they are more efficient than the body-grip ones. There type of traps should be placed near baited areas, inside the pathways nutria usually use, or near the channels they have created through vegetation. You can lightly cover the trap with leaves or other debris to hide them. When it comes to leghold traps, the bait should be placed beside them, not inside the jaws, in order to catch the rodent’s leg. You can also place them on floating rafts which have been previously pre-baited, as the nutria will try to see if it finds food again, and will get trapped. There are also drowning sets available for leghold traps, which should be anchored to solid objects in the water, if it is deep enough. If you are using simple traps, you should still anchor them down with some logs or stumps, as the animal will try to escape, and you need to make sure it will not drag the trap away.

Snares are another type of trap that can be used, and they use a loop that catches the targeted pest. The loop can be adjusted depending on the size of your target, and the trap itself should be placed on something that will work as an anchor, to hold it down. As nutria are quite strong animals, the trap must be anchored to something permanent, like a tree or some cinder blocks, not just a stake or small rocks. Due to this system, using snares on floating rafts is not indicated.

Kill traps also exist and are available for usage in areas where it is legal to do so. They are made out of steel squares which are forced apart by strong springs. These springs are help in place by a mechanism controlled by a trigger, and once the nutria makes contact with the trigger, the spring is enabled and the two steel squares flip shut. These kinds of traps are also known as body-grip traps, and are widely used for beavers, minks and muskrats as well. You can place them in trails, near den entrances and in narrow water ways, but proceed with caution, as large body-grip traps can be dangerous and should be handled carefully.

Live traps can also be used, especially if you do not want to harm the rodent, and just relocate it somewhere else. Single or double door live traps are used, and can be baited with corn, sweet potatoes and carrots. They need to be placed along active trail lines and you can also set up a short line of baits that leads to the door of the trap, as it will increase the chance that a nutria will get close to it. Placing these traps on floating rafts is also possible, but pre-baiting is necessary, in order to make sure that the nutria is used to the area and willing to search it for more food.

Chemical methods

Poison can also be used for getting rid of nutrias. Placing them near the burrows will prompt nutrias to eat the poison and then die. However, be careful with which kind of poison you choose to use, and make sure children or pets are not in the area. Keep in mind that you do need a license for using poisoning chemicals, so it is best to leave this option to professionals.
Based on a chemical compound, you can use baits treated with zinc phosphide, but make sure to keep them in well ventilated areas, as they can be quite toxic. Low rates of zinc phosphide can be used when mixed with baits, such as 0,4 kg of chemical to 43 kg of bait. You should use such bait in waterways, ponds, and ditches where permanent standing water and recent nutria sign are found. Baiting in these areas increases efficiency and reduces the likelihood that non-target animals will be affected. Small chunks of unpeeled carrots, sweet potatoes, watermelon rind, and apples can be used as bait.
Usually only 25% of the poisoned nutria die where they can be found. Many of them die in dens, dense vegetation, and other inaccessible areas, so their carcasses need to be collected as soon as possible and disposed of, either by deep burial or burning. This way you will to prevent exposure of domestic and wild scavengers to undigested stomach material containing zinc phosphide. You will also need to dispose of any leftover treated bait in accordance with label directions.
Chemical lures are also an option, as they act like pheromones, attracting the individuals to a certain place. This helps when used in combination with traps, as the nutria will walk into a live trap easily, if it is scented with such attractants.


Repellents are also an option, when wanting to get rid of these rodents. Whether you use taste, touch or sound repellents, they are better off combined with other controlling methods, especially if you are dealing with a large infestation. Repellents usually work well when there is enough food supply and nutria are not desperate to eat. When they become desperate for food, they might ignore any repellents and not get affected by a bad taste or by loud sounds.
You can use liquid repellents applied to the plants they most like to eat, especially on flowers, shrubs and the basis of trees. You can either apply liquid repellents with a low-pressure sprayer, or with a larger pump sprayer, depending on the surface you want to cover.
Motion activated repellents can also be used, especially water sprinkler ones. They get activated because of movements near them, and once the motion detector is triggered, they spray bursts of water in that particular direction.


You can also choose to protect your property through fencing, in order to exclude the nutria from your yard or garden. Fences need to be buried at least 30 cm underground to prevent burrowing beneath them and it is also advised that the top portion be electrified and turned on at dawn and dusk when the rodents are most active. Sheet metal shields can also be used to prevent gnawing damage to wooden structures and trees. You can also protect your seedling with wire mesh fencing, but making a protective cover for anything you have in the garden is not very practical, nor cost-effective.

No matter what type of control method you end up using, remember that combining more can lead to quicker and more effective results. And always apply preventive measures as you are getting rid of infestations, as you do not want to have to fight another battle against these rodents. Learn how you can protect your crops by ‘Preventing infestation with Nutria Coypu’.

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