Nutria at White Rock Lake. (Photo from Facebook)

If you’ve been to White Rock Lake recently, chances are you’ve encountered a beaver-esque creature roaming in the grass near the trails.

These furry neighbors aren’t actually beavers. Most likely they are large rodents called nutria — also known as coypu or swamp rats. Nutria usually live in freshwater ecosystems, hence why there are so many near the lake.

Family of nutria at the lake. (Photo from Facebook)

Nutria are South America natives that came to the United States between 1899 and 1930 through the fur industry, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  However, if swamp rats overpopulate an area, they can heavily disrupt an ecosystem.

These large rodents can grow between 17 and 25 inches in length, which is the same size as a raccoon, Live Science reported. They live in burrows linked by tunnels they dig near lakes, rivers or canals.


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