How to Get Rid of Nutria Rats

Cynthia Measom

Nutria rats are rodents that are originally native to South America; they have been trans-located to North America by various individuals, as well as state and federal agencies. Nutria rats mainly cause damage by burrowing and feeding.

Their burrows serve to weaken flood control and water-retaining levees to the degree that they have to undergo reconstruction. They also damage various crops, gardens and grasses via their feeding habits. For the individual who finds nutria rats to be a nuisance, control and removal methods are available.

Leghold Trapping

  1. Obtain a leghold trap from a supplier such as a double longspring trap, number 11 or 2, for trapping the nutria.

  2. Set the trap in an area where you notice nutria trails, droppings or where nutria activity has been observed. Place the trap just off the center of the trail so it will catch the nutria's foot, or place the trap right under the surface of the water to which the trail leads. Stake the traps to the ground, or to a stationary object nearby.

  3. Place bait such as chunks of carrots or sweet potatoes beside the leghold traps, if desired. Don't place the bait inside because the nutria pick up food with their teeth.

  4. Dispose of any trapped nutria in a humane manner.

Live trapping

  1. Obtain a single or double door live trap that is 9-by-9-by-32 inches, or larger, in size.

  2. Place the trap in an area where there is known nutria activity. You can determine this from footprints, tail prints and droppings.

  3. Place chunks of sweet potatoes and carrots directly outside of the cage door, leading into it.

  4. Set the live trap according to the manufacturer's instruction.

  5. Humanely dispose of any nutria that you catch in the live trap.

  6. Tip

    Live traps or leghold traps can also be placed on large rafts anchored in the water.


    Be familiar with your local wildlife rules and regulations. In some areas, nutria rats are protected as a fur bearing animal that is of economic importance. In these cases, you may be able to obtain a permit to take action against rodents that are damaging property.

    Use caution when using leghold traps. Keep them away from children and pets.

    Nutria rats will bite and scratch if they are cornered. Take care when approaching them, and avoid handling them directly as they are carriers various pathogens and parasites.

    Poisoning the nutria rats can only be done by a licensed professional or someone under the direction of a licensed professional.