EUGENE, Ore. -- Nutria, the beaver-like mammal with the orange teeth found in swamps and rivers across the Willamette Valley, can be a hazard to pets who threaten the animal or its territory.
Dr. Ingrid Kessler at the Emergency Veterinary Hospital in Springfield says nutria can bite, scratch and cause serious damage -- especially if cornered or captured by an eager dog.
"Nutria are aggressive, territorial and they need to defend themselves and so a fight breaks out," Kessler said. "In a fortunate situation a dog might have only a few puncture wounds from a bite but more typically there is a gash that needs to be stitched up."
During the summer months, Kessler said she sees several pets per week who tangled with nutria.
To protect your pets, keep them on leashes and avoid nutria.
Did you know?
More than 600 farms raised nutria in Oregon and Washington in the 1930s through 1950s. Flooding and other damage allowed the nutria to escape, according to wildlife officials.
In Louisiana, wildlife officials have sought to battle nutria infestations by promoting the hunting of nutria for food. The department even posts recipes on its Web site.