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!
Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the editor-in-chief of MAKE and Cool Tools. Twitter: @frauenfelder. His new book is Maker Dad: Lunch Box Guitars, Antigravity Jars, and 22 Other Incredibly Cool Father-Daughter DIY Projects