Traditionally, nutria are considered farm animals. They are bred for delicious dietary meat and valuable fur. Also, these animals can be kept at home as pets. The main features of their breeding, the intricacies of maintenance and care will be discussed below.
Characteristics and lifestyle
Nutria, or, as it is also called, marsh beaver or coypu, belongs to the nutria family and is its only representative.
This animal looks like a very large rat. The size of the body reaches 60 cm in length, and the tail - up to 45 cm. The weight of nutria is from 6 to 12 kg. As a rule, males are always larger than females.
The Marsh Beaver has a massive build with a large head and very small brown or almost black eyes. The ears are small, neat, rather tightly pressed to the head. Her muzzle is blunt, rounded. Her teeth are small, and the front incisors are large, strongly protruding forward and sharply sharpened, their color is bright orange.
The nutria's fur practically does not allow water to pass through, consists of a hard guard hair and a thick brown undercoat. The sides and abdomen are lighter in color.
How is it different from a muskrat?
Nutria is often mistaken for a mammal of the same order - the muskrat. These animals have both common characteristics and differences.
- detachment of rodents;
- dull head;
- pronounced incisors;
- waterproof fur;
- bald, hairless, tail;
- the diet consists exclusively of plant foods;
- sensitive hearing;
- both are excellent swimmers;
- breeding almost all year round;
- live in groups.
The difference between these animals is as follows:
- the nutria is much larger than the muskrat;
- males of kuipu are larger than females; in muskrats, sexual dimorphism is not expressed in any way;
- muskrat builds huts and burrows, kuipu wander from place to place;
- unlike nutria, muskrat makes reserves for the winter;
- nutria live 6-8 years, muskrats - 3 years.
Despite the presence of strong external similarities, these animals still differ significantly from each other.
Nutria in natural living conditions are in the water most of the time. This animal feels normal only in conditions of increased stable humidity.
They settle along the banks of rivers and lakes. Here nutria finds not only the necessary living conditions, but also food with water. Kuipu are able to withstand severe frosts, but do not like cold and drafts. Therefore, when keeping them at home, it is important to observe the temperature regime.
On average, nutria live 6-8 years, but this is subject to ideal growth in the wild or at home. In nature, Kuipu live for about 4-6 years. When grown in captivity, this period of time can be increased by 1-2 years, but, as a rule, nutria are not kept for so long. Animals are sent for slaughter when they reach a mass of about 2-4 kg for males and 2-3 kg for females.
In conditions of wild growth, life expectancy is often reduced by several times due to predators and various diseases.
Nutria is the only representative of its kind. There are several breeds, depending on the color of the coat.
- Black. The coat is thick black, short and very shiny. The animals themselves are large, with a calm, almost tame character. They differ from other breeds in their speedy weight gain and unpretentiousness in food. For this they are especially appreciated by livestock breeders.
- Pearl. The coat is similar to the color of pearls. These animals are a kind of hybrid, as breeders crossed three separate species to obtain this breed. To propagate pearl nutria is allowed only with individuals of the opposite sex of their species. A distinctive feature of the offspring lies in the fact that in half of the newborn kuipu, the coat color remains pastel.
They are very demanding on the conditions of keeping and feeding, they need a year-round bath, as well as warm ventilation during the cold season.
- Golden . The fur is a very beautiful golden shade, shimmering in the sun. Due to the beauty of the fur, many breeders choose this breed. This breed is distinguished by the presence of an unusual pattern: on the back the fur is bright golden in color, and closer to the sides and belly it is lighter and less pronounced. The abdomen is light pink with a golden tint.
This breed of nutria is very unpretentious in keeping. The animals quickly gain mass. The only drawback is that the female brings no more than 3-4 puppies in one pregnancy cycle. However, a larger litter can be achieved by mating this breed with a standard brown. In this case, the litter will consist of golden and brown babies. And the first will make up the majority.
- Lemon. The skin of the animals is pale yellow. The fur is very pleasant to the touch, shiny. This breed is obtained from two breeds - beige and albino. Susceptible to infectious diseases. They require increased attention.
- Silvery. The fur is very beautiful in color, from very light to dark, sometimes almost blue. It looks very luxurious, so this species is loved by many breeders. Nutria are unpretentious in food, very fertile. Gain weight quickly and easily. In conditions of good maintenance, they grow up to 12 kg. They easily cross with individuals of other breeds, the offspring is 50 to 50.
- Snowy. They are distinguished by their snow-white fur. This breed was bred by crossing two others: golden and silver. For many babies to be born, these individuals need to mate with representatives of other species.
- Brown. The fur is dark brown with a golden tint. On the back it is darker than on the abdomen. They are unpretentious in leaving. Easily mate with other species. Puppies are obtained equally of both breeds.
- Pastel. The skin is pale brown, very beautiful and shiny. The breed was bred by crossing mother-of-pearl and black individuals. An interesting fact is that the entire offspring is born of a dark color, and during growth it brightens and becomes pastel.
Very prolific, do not require special conditions of detention.
- White Azerbaijani. They have a snow-white color. The head is large, the neck is very powerful. The eyes are dark, the legs and tail are pale pink. When crossed with individuals of their own species, they give a small offspring - 4-6 puppies.
Nutria are very prolific animals. Individuals become sexually mature by 12 weeks of life. Females are able to start a family by 7-8 months of age. They breed all year round. Nutria walks a pregnant woman for a very long time, about 127-132 days.
One individual is capable of producing 2-3 litters per year. Labor is usually very easy and does not require human intervention.
Females puppy at night, the whole process takes 20 to 60 minutes.
Features of the content
When breeding nutria, as a rule, they have two goals:
- getting delicious tender dietary meat;
- valuable skin for sale.
Achieving the best result is possible only if all necessary conditions are met. Also, do not forget the fact that lately, pet lovers have become interested in kuipu.
This animal can be kept both in a private house and in an apartment as a pet. It is known that they are very affectionate, playful, have a kind disposition and easily get used to a person.
A domestic nutria raised in a family is not much different from other domestic animals such as a cat, dog or ferret. She considers the person to be a member of her family, plays, fiddles, willingly goes into her arms.
When breeding nutria at home, you should adhere to the following rules:
- comfortable conditions for keeping;
- correct diet;
- periodic treatment for diseases and infections.
You can breed nutria on home farms. For this, aviaries or cages are built in places that are far from any sources of noise. This is due to the fact that the animals are very shy and, with any loud extraneous sounds, they rush scattered and cannot come to their senses for a long time.
A dwelling for a swamp beaver must meet several requirements.
- Providing temperature control. Nutria are unable to withstand the cold for a long time, so the air temperature in their home should be at least 10 degrees. For queens and newborn babies - at least 16 degrees.
- Sufficient air access and a swimming pool. The reservoir can be artificial or natural, but always clean. Without it, the animals will not be able to fully grow and develop. Water is simply necessary for these animals, as they lead a semi-aquatic lifestyle. Without a pool, no farmer will get excellent quality pelt.
- Family-style home furnishing. Regardless of whether nutria grow in a cage or in an aviary, they need to be populated with one male and three or four females. Such a family will produce good and healthy litters. Young, sexually mature males should be kept separate from each other to avoid fights and bickering.
Compliance with all these conditions will give novice breeders an excellent chance to achieve their goals.
Nutria is an animal that naturally spends most of its time in the water. The nipples (and they have 4-5 pairs) of females are high on the sides, so newborn puppies can consume milk without going on land. With proper care and adequate nutrition, the mother has enough fatty and healthy milk for her litter. The female feeds her children for no more than 30 days, then the insides switch to normal food.
Puppies are born with fur, teeth and open eyes. From the moment of birth, they are completely independent and after a couple of days they consume the food of adults.
The insides grow very quickly. By the age of 2 weeks, their weight doubles. After 30 days, it becomes three times more, and at the end of the year - 20 times more. Naturally, such a rapid growth is possible only if it is properly kept and fed .
If the puppies are lethargic, eat poorly and gain weight, this may be due to a lack of milk in the mother, cold or various diseases. It is necessary to raise such offspring with special attention and diligence. It is necessary to provide the insides with good nutrition and comfortable conditions for growth.
With appropriate feeding and maintenance, the food looks like adults by the age of 2 months. They feed independently, move actively, drink water and bathe in drinking bowls. Such puppies need their own, separate from the mother, housing. In order not to disturb the offspring, the female is transplanted into a separate cage.
When the cubs get used to living and growing without a mother, they are separated into different cells and begin to feed.
Traditionally, the opinion has developed that nutria is an animal for obtaining meat and valuable fur. This is true. Do not forget that this animal can be a favorite pet and friend.
To tame nutria, it should be taken into the family by a small animal that no longer sucks its mother's milk. Nutria very quickly gets used to its nickname, responds to it. With pleasure he takes the offered treat from the person's hands. She often begs herself, which looks very cute and comical.
These animals are distinguished by a kind and calm disposition. They are very sociable and communicative, they do not require special attention. Very neat and tidy.
We can confidently assert that the nutria is a wonderful animal to keep in a house or apartment.
Nutria are very fertile animals, so it will not be difficult to breed them at home.
For the start, 1 male and 4-5 females are enough, which in the future will form a family. The main thing is to take into account the fact that the male and the females should not be related by blood ties.
Already at 4 months of age, the uterus is ready to give healthy offspring. But experienced livestock breeders advise keeping them up to six months of age. In this case, the offspring will be more viable and strong, and the females will not stop their growth and development.
The male is fully ready for reproduction upon reaching 7-8 months of age. The weight of such an individual is approximately 4.5-5 kg. The male in the family is changed every 2-3 months. Thus, they achieve strong and healthy offspring.
Usually the uterus brings 10-14 puppies. This indicator varies depending on the breed of the female, the conditions of her keeping, nutrition and health of the latter. Usually after a couple of months, the female is ready to breed again. After 3-4 years, its fertility decreases sharply. Such individuals are sent for slaughter.
Diseases, their prevention and treatment
Nutria are distinguished by strong immunity, they are very viable and practically do not get sick in the wild. And when kept at home, illnesses happen, and most often through the fault of a person. This is due to non-compliance with the conditions of keeping this type of animals.
To minimize the risk of developing diseases, you must follow these rules:
- put things in order in the rodent houses in a timely manner;
- provide an influx of fresh air;
- to minimize the presence of drafts and access to cold;
- correctly and fully feed the animals;
- give them only clean and fresh water.
If the sanitary rules were nevertheless violated, such diseases occur in nutria.
One of the most dangerous diseases of nutria. The causative agent is human or bovine mycobacteria. They are transmitted through contaminated milk or through contact of healthy individuals with sick people.
The main danger of this disease is that it is almost asymptomatic, in a latent form. In this case, the respiratory system is primarily affected, in rare cases the intestines.
Infected animals are apathetic, lack of appetite, and inactivity. Shortness of breath, cough, and sometimes diarrhea are possible.
Unfortunately, this disease is incurable, all sick animals have to be slaughtered.
To prevent this disease, all milk served to animals should be boiled. The animals' dwelling should be clean and dry.
An infectious disease caused by Pasteurella bacteria. It is transmitted through food, drink, and sometimes by respiratory tract. Young individuals who have not reached six months of age are more susceptible to this disease.
Symptoms of the disease are fever up to 42 degrees, the appearance of blood from the nostrils, decreased appetite, lethargy, heavy breathing, convulsions, conjunctivitis, paralysis of the hind limbs.
For treatment, special serum and antibiotics are used, but they do not give the proper result. The infected animal will inevitably die. To avoid contamination of other individuals, disinfection is carried out in the cells, and sick animals are eliminated.
Caused by the bacteria Salmonella, it is transmitted from a sick animal to a healthy one through drinking and water. The disease develops rapidly and asymptomatically, the animal is almost impossible to save. Infected individuals are lethargic, do not take food and water, diarrhea and lacrimation are possible.
Salmonellosis is treated with antibiotics and antimicrobial agents. As a preventive measure, nutria must be vaccinated every year.
The causative agent is E. coli. At risk are young individuals 3-5 months. The virus enters the body through food and drink.
One of the most important symptoms is fetid, persistent diarrhea. The animals are quickly exhausted, eat poorly, and quickly lose weight.
Sick animals are given special serum and essential vitamins. If timely assistance is not provided, infected individuals die in a short time - 3-5 days.
To prevent this disease, you should disinfect the room where the nutria are kept, handle the inventory.
An infectious disease caused by gram-positive bacteria. At risk are pregnant females and young animals. It is spread through food, water and air.
Sick animals do not eat and drink well. Their coat is dull, disheveled. Pus is discharged from the nostrils and eyes. The body temperature is increased.
It is treated with antibiotics prescribed by a veterinarian.
If help is not provided, the infected animals will die in a couple of days.To avoid contamination of the rest of the nutria, the dead must be burned.
A rare disease that mainly affects pregnant females and young animals. The causative agent is the bacteria Listeria carried by birds and other rodents.
Symptoms of the disease are lack of appetite, poor coordination, fever, lethargy and apathy. In the acute form, damage to the uterus is possible, females self-abort.
Listeriosis is not cured. All infected nutria must be eliminated.
For breeding nutria at home, see below.