What animal is this?


Is it an otter, a beaver, a giant rat or something else?

Well done, if you said ‘coypu’ or ‘ragondin’!

Neither of these possibilities were actually on my radar until I saw them swimming in the Canal du Midi. I thought they looked quite cute. However, further research would suggest that for many people this is not the case.

Coypu are native to South America and were originally introduced to France and the UK for their fur. They have webbed rear feet and orange coloured front teeth.

They are  semi aquatic rodents who  feast on vegetation and burrow into river banks. Both these actions can cause serious damage to the environment.  They also carry leptospirosis. These are just some of the reasons they are viewed as pests.

There are a variety of ways in which these animals can be culled but I won’t go into the various methods in this post.

I have never seen it on any menus but my research came across several possible recipes for ragondin. These included pâté and stew… Not sure myself.


This is a photo of a local coypu I took recently. This coypu was alongside the Canal du Midi towpath and very close to the port in Castelnaudary. He – or she – didn’t seem at all perturbed by the passerbys on foot or boat.

Have you seen a ragondin/coypu? What do you think about them: a pest or cute? I’d love to know.

15 thoughts on “What animal is this?

  1. I didn’t even know of their existence, never mind having seen one. I do occasionally see the odd eat at the local pond when I take the grandchildren to see the ducks. Can’t say rodents have ever appealed as pets. Give me a cat or a dog anytime. A Rabbit would do too!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I said coypu, but knowing that they were native to South America didn’t expect them to be found in France. Like you I’m not sure if I’d fancy one served up on a plate. Btw I see you managed to leave a comment on my blog, well done for sorting the problem.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. We have a lot of ragodin in Normandy and to be honest they are a pest, as you say, destroying river banks … my dog hates them and will go hunting them if given half a chance! Fully grown they are surprisingly big as I found out when cycling home one night and one thundered across the path in front of me. The ground shuddered under its heavy footsteps. I had also heard they were tasty to eat but having seen their teeth, like you I think I will give them a miss on the menu.

    Thank you for adding this post to #AnimalTales – I am not sure if we have ever had coypu joining in before!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve seen a bunch of these in the river at our local park and am scared of them. There’s one that is bigger than my dog and seems very aggressive. Even scarier that they carry lepto. Good thing we have a vet appointment this weekend for my dog’s yearly vaccines. #animaltales

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your local coypu sound most unpleasant! I don’t like the idea of one bigger than your dog. I’ve seen pictures of him on your blog. The aggressiveness sound scary, too. Yes, it is so important to have dogs vaccinated. Thanks for commenting.#AnimalTales


  5. I saw one yesterday at Castelnaudery, it was swimming and then crawled out on the steps of the canal to eat some vegetable scraps that I would say someone left there for it. I came quite close to take a photo and it didn’t seem afraid. Have never seen one before and a local told me what it was.


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