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Thursday, 11 November 2010

I should have set the dog on you!

After a few more days of torrential rain, we've set off to our land again for the first time to check for more damage and pick some food.  On the way there we came across this fellow:

Big old rodent he was, never seen such a thing before.  The body over a foot long, the tail too, huge webbed rear feet.  Looks a little like a beaver, but has a round rather than flat tail.  We had Eddie on a lead at the time and the chappy obviously had ventured a bit too far from the water and he's not the fastest on his feet.  So he just sat there looking at us and we at him wondering who he was.  He let me to within 3 feet of him and take this photo without a zoom lens before he slowly moved off towards the river.


Research on the web seemed to suggest he's a coypu or nutria.  They are not native to Europe, but have been introduced from South America for their fur.  Initially they were farmed, but they never proved very profitable, so they were released into the wild.  Now they are regarded as an invasive species threatening much of the native fauna.  Their meat on the other hand is lean and low in cholestorol.  Now had I known all that, I should have let the dog loose, who was dying to get to him, hence would have done something good for the local environment, get a few good meat meals and a pair of new fur slippers.  Well next time we see him we'll find out how good a hunter Eddie is... :)

In other news, the damage on the land hasn't got much worse.  The kaki tree (persimmon) is dropping it's colourful leaves onto my favourite deckchair:

The kaki are nearly ripe, looking like bright Christmas baubles

And the river is full to overflowing

Happy days for coypu


19 comments:

Laura said...

Wow, how crazy is that! I hear they are good eating indeed...so hope Eddie's hunting skills come through!

Heiko said...

I meanwhile found some recipes for these blighters: http://www.nutria.com/site14.php

jann said...

I think your cute little coypu is related to the guinea pig, which my husband ate last year in Peru (not because it sounded good, but because it's a prized dish in Peru & he wanted to do as the Peruvians do). He said there was something unpleasant about it--the texture & the whole idea of it.
Love those persimmons!

vrtlarica said...

It looks like a very, very big rat! I have never seen it, but they seem to be a big problem here in some areas.

Heiko said...

Jann, We are struggling to include enough protein and calories into our diet, so, although I'm not a natural born hunter, I think if I bump into another one like that, it'll end up on my plate.

vrtlarica, (do you have another nickname, I always have to check how to spell it :)) that's exactly what it looks like, a large overfed rat. Apparently the eat the roots of many riverbank plants, which can therefore lead to erosion and loss of wetland habitat. Much better eating them!

chaiselongue said...

It does look like a coypu - we have a 'family' of them living in our river under the bridge, fighting the ducks for bread. I didn't know you could eat them... and nor do the local hunters, yet.

Heiko said...

CL I'm looking forward to seeing pictures of barbecued coytu on your blog!

Ohiofarmgirl said...

wow! ok i would have run like a little girl if i saw that! yikes! i think they are a problem here in the South. go get 'em Eddie! beautiful pix - enjoy your day!
:-)

Mr. H. said...

Poor little guy, I hope he hides the next time you come by.:) We have something similar called a muskrat that lives in the swamps and lakes around here.

Your persimmons are looking good (I think), I'm not sure if I have ever eaten one before...are they sweet tasting?

Heiko said...

OFG, I know you better! You'd have your butcher knives out!

Mr.H, you're just a spoil sport! (phew listen to former vegetarian blood lust!). The persimmons are sweet and if not perfectly ripe very sour (they make your head shrink!) and also very tannic. I do not enjoy them raw, but the tree is very pretty.

LindyLouMac said...

We came across Copyu for the first time here in Italy as well, in the marshy areas on the coast at Tarquinia. Some of your Persimmon look ripe enough to use, they go over so quickly once they ripen don't they.
We have tried out some great recipes found on the internet this year with varying degrees of success.

Michael M said...

Nutria are a big problem in the Veneto, as well as Louisiana, as they burrow into the canal banks and cause erosion. They are edible, so help yourself and at the same time help the river.

Heiko said...

Lindy Lou, I make my famous "I can't believe it's not mango chutney" chutney out of persimmons. You'd be amazed, you wouldn't believe it's not mango chutney! The other thing it's useful for is sweet and sour pork, or perhaps sweet and sour coypu next time! This morning I juiced some together with my morning apple juice.

Michael, I'll take your advice. So come over on that walk to our land for a barbecued nutritious nutria or copious amounts of coypu.

Ohiofarmgirl said...

ha! you caught me, Heiko.. its true.. I'll gut and clean anything that ain't smilin' at me
;-)

Now where are my knives... HA!

Have a great weekend!

cherylmart said...

We have nutria here in Oregon. A few years back one got a good toothy hold on my friend's yellow lab. Nearly killed her! They have been known to go after small children swimming in the river. Do be careful!

Heiko said...

Hi Cheryl, for a moment I thought it spooky hearing 2 very similar stories like that within two days, before realising that it might be the same story told by 2 different people. Welcome to my blog Cheryl. We will take a long club along when nutria hunting rather than set the dog (or your daughter) on the beast. :)

LindyLouMac said...

Have you posted the recipe for your famous chutney as I think my husband might like to try making some!

Heiko said...

LindyLou, if it's my famous "I can't believe it's not mango chutney" chutney you are talking about, search kaki chutney, or I think I put in a link in the Wild Food of the month November post.

LindyLouMac said...

I found it thanks Heiko :)