How to Get Rid of the Nutria Rat

Written by catherine chase
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How to Get Rid of the Nutria Rat
Nutria have an appearance similar to a beaver, but without the paddle-shaped tail. (Nutria image by Petra Kohlstädt from

Nutria are native to South America. They are considered an invasive species in the U.S. These rodents are semi-aquatic and prefer areas with standing or running water. Nutria cause damage by burrowing and eating crops and gardens. Some people prefer to simply shoot nutria to control the problem; however, this is not effective for large infestations. You may control nutria with traps and poisoned baits. For long-term management, modify the landscaping to discourage nutria from settling there.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Trapping permit, if necessary
  • Traps
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Vegetable oil
  • Zinc phosphide
  • Rubber gloves
  • Respirator

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  1. 1

    Check with your state's wildlife agency to ensure that nutria are not protected in your location. If they are, but the nutria are damaging your property, you may obtain a permit to control them through the wildlife agency.

  2. 2

    Modify your landscaping to make it an inhospitable environment for nutria. Nutria make their homes in areas that have standing water. They also prefer dense, weedy vegetation. Get rid of sources of standing water and remove weeds and brush to encourage the nutria to look elsewhere for a home.

  3. 3

    Set traps to catch the nutria, such as leghold traps or body-gripping traps. After observing the habits of the nutria for a few days, you will likely notice travel routes they use often and areas where they tend to congregate. Set the traps in these places. The directions for setting a trap will vary, depending on the specific product you select. Follow all the directions on the product.

  4. 4

    Set out bait in areas frequented by nutria. The Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management recommends prebaiting. Prebait by distributing sweet potatoes coated with vegetable oil to nutria-frequented locations for two to three days in a row. This allows the rodents to become accustomed to feeding there.

  5. 5

    Hire a certified pesticide applicator to coat sweet potatoes with zinc phosphide. Zinc phosphide is a restricted use pesticide, according to The Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management. It may only be applied by a certified pest control expert or by a person under the applicator's direct supervision. Wear long rubber gloves and a respirator while handling this toxicant. Set the bait out in the areas where the nutria have been feeding. This toxicant will kill them.

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