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.