Rodents of Unusual Size - a documentary about 20-lb rats in Louisiana

I am a huge fan of Chris Metzler's documentaries. He co-directed the unforgettable Plagues and Pleasures on the Salton Sea and the amazing documentary about Fishbone, Everyday Sunshine. He's getting ready to make his next documentary, Rodents of Unusual Size, about 20-lb swamp rats. I can't wait!

When we first heard about the nutria, we couldn't believe it. Why were they here? What did they want? And why did they insist on eating up the entire Louisiana bayou?? The more we heard, the stranger the story got.

Their webbed hind feet and enormous orange teeth were quite peculiar. We learned about the state bounty program that pays hunters and trappers $5 a tail to keep the pests under control. We also found recipes for nutria gumbo and pictures of fashion shows featuring their "environmentally friendly" fur. And then there was the story of the man out on Delacroix Island who raised a pet albino nutria who was "as smart as a dog but held a grudge."

The nutria gnawed its way into Louisiana culture and folklore. Its appetite has moved coastlines. And now the humans are fighting back by turning this invasive species into a resource and starting to eat and wear these rodents for the benefit of a healthy ecosystem.

It’s only fair that this notorious and lovable rodent get its own feature documentary!

Rodents of Unusual Size


        1. up to I looked at the check which said $8341, I accept …that…my brothers friend really earning money part time at their computer.. there neighbor started doing this 4 only twenty months and at present paid the debts on their home and bought a great Buick. this is where I went, fab22.comCHECK IT OUT

  1. They are also all over our suburban North Dallas neighbourhoods, in almost every creek and park, chewing down trees up to about 18″ diameter, and undercutting the banks until they collapse over wide areas!

    1. chewing down trees up to about 18″ diameter – in Texas they’re rats, in Canada they’re the national animal.

  2. We’ve got these ugly suckers in Oregon! They’re listed as an invasive species, but I don’t think you’re free to pull out a rifle and off them.
    * * *
    When I was a kid, I went to a carnival (aka “Fun Fair”) that had a trailer advertising GIANT BLOODTHIRSTY RATS!

    For the cost of a ticket (25 cents) you got to climb up on a platform and look through a slit into a cage lit with red lights. Inside of which were three or four of what, I’m pretty sure now, were nutria.

  3. I’m pretty sure I saw one of these down by Cherry Beach in Toronto. It was near the dog park and the dogs were going nuts trying to get at it, and it was making a weird noise much like that old guys holler. Everyone who saw it first thought it was a beaver but it didn’t have a beaver tail. Inneresting!

  4. ITaylor. even though Matthew`s st0rry is inconceivable… last thursday I got a top of the range Bugatti Veyron after making $9266 this last month and-more than, $10,000 last munth. this is definitely the most comfortable job Ive ever done. I started this 3 months ago and pretty much immediately was earning at least $71, per-hour. I went to this website………… ZOO80.ℂom

  5. They were originally imported to LA by a man who thought he could get rich quick by selling their pelts as marvelous new fur coats, etc.  They assembled tiny thermonuclear devices and fought their way out of confinement and into the bayous.  Or so I’m told. 

    Didn’t know we were paying $5 a tail…I need to oil the rifle up!

  6. I winced at the first glimpse of the nutria, but when you get a close up of their face, they look more like beavers than ‘eat your kitten when you’re at work’ NYC rats. 

    1. Opossums however…. Opossibly one of the nastiest critters I’ve ever had to come face to face with.

      1. Opossums can be pretty nasty when you run into them out in the wild. But a friend of my grandparents was involved in wild life rescue. Used to adopt animals that couldn’t be released. Had a couple Opossums that were pretty awesome little guys. A raccoon that was pretty friendly. But oddly the friendliest and most fun critter he had as a skunk. That thing was more loving than most dogs.

        1.  Skunks are weasels, which makes them automatically awesome and easier to tame.

          My relatives in the midwest were hunters, and during their trips in the woods used to take photos of possums that they find playing dead. Evidently, as soon as you nudge them, they go from limp and ‘dead’ to a wide eyed ‘i will kill you and everyone you care about.’ Some pretty terrifying snap shots.

        1. * Possums live in New Zealand and Australia. Opossums in Golden Gate are nice because the raccoons are huge so they need man as an ally. The raccoons hiding in the fog almost tripping me up on my bike, trying to steal my whiskey. 

        2. Strangely may people are terrified of them.  They are a slow moving extremely primitive creature and unfamiliar.

          Interestingly, Asian immigrants. even those that have been here 20 years are unfamiliar with possums. I guess because their languages do not have a corresponding  word, and possums just don’t get talked about very much. If someone tried to tell me about them, I would think they were describing something mythical. 

    1. Exactly. Nutria are common as dirt here in Oregon, and I was expecting to hear about actual overgrown rats. When I saw it was just “the mysterious nutria,” I almost facepalmed. I suppose they’re not quite as big a problem here, because they have to compete with the opossums, raccoons and coyotes, but I’d have thought possums & coons would be pretty ubiquitous in Louisiana too, with gators added for good measure.

      Only the opossums can compete with them for ugliest roadkill though. Eww!

      1. Nutria really found their niche here, we definitely have possums and raccoons and a few coyotes (from what I hear at least, I haven’t seen any but I’ve definitely seen possums and raccoons) but it hasn’t stopped the nutria from going “Oh HAI, yeah this is pretty much like home but a little colder with fewer natural predators.  We’ll take it!”.

  7. Nutria are freaking delicious. Naturally spicy + packed with flavor = great sausage. We eat large water dwelling bugs after boiling them, so really all the more thorough cleaning of these giant rats is more pinky extending proper. I’ve read this site for years, and yes, my first comment will be on eating large rats.

  8. This reminds me of the rats in the original Fallout game – those buggers could kill you!

      1. I googled that to make sure we were thinking of the same thing.  Speak’s wikipedia page must be pretty harsh for anyone who’s ever been booted out of wikipedia for failing to meet their notability criteria

  9. Sorry, I don’t support wildlife destruction. Maybe get together with the Swamp Gator show and the problem will fix itself.

    1. Well, I don’t support the killing of *any* animals but you have to understand that Nutria aren’t properly “wildlife” around here – they’re an invasive species (imported for fur farming that went feral and bred like all get out).  I don’t want them killed either but there is a reasoning behind it.

  10. Did I ever tell you guys about the time I wrestled with one in a patch of firemines and wound up in some goddamn quicksand…man that was…throw me a vine.

  11. We had coypu in SE England too- I saw them a couple of times when I was a kid. They were supposedly exterminated in the late 80s.

    Seems like they’re well established in continental Europe too, I saw one in central France a few years ago, and was told they were quite common in the area.

  12. In my college years, I spent a lot of time working on rice farms near Eunice, LA….one of our favorite pastimes was sitting in the back of a truck with a cooler full of beer and a scoped .223 rifle knocking off the nutria that poked their heads up after a long session of digging through our levees.

    Politically incorrect, unsafe, and some of the best times of my life. Sadly, we never thought to cook the little buggers. Surprisingly, as Cajuns will eat nearly anything else. Quoi faire ?

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