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River Rat Growing in Population Among Katy Neighborhood Lakes


September 26, 2023

By Natalie Cook Clark

When walking among the many beautiful Katy community trails and you see a large splash in the lake it’s probably not a gator. The Texas Nutria, also known as a river rat, is being seen more in Katy community lakes.

A nutria spotted in Seven Meadows. Photo credit: David Tumino

What is that?

Neighborhood social media pages are a popular place where neighbors go to ask questions and one recently that keeps coming up is, “what is that?” The question is in relation of something making splashes in neighborhood lake and the answer is commonly a nutria.

Katy Magazine often covers stories about the many wildlife that call Katy home alongside us. We’ve never talked about the nutria and it’s time this little critter gets some attention and recognition for the many sightings around the community.

Photo credit: Texas Parks and Recreation

They Aren't New to Katy

“They aren’t really new to the Katy area,” says Seven Meadows resident David Tumino. “I’ve been seeing them in lakes around Seven Meadows since 2009. I do think maybe there are more now and social media gets communities talking.”

According to the Texas Parks and Recreation a nutria is a medium-sized, grayish-brown rodent with a long, round tail with few hairs. Too many is looks like a beaver, and many Katy residents have asked that very question.

Elyson resident Greg Norris works for a local Lakecrest community and has counted up to 7 near his work.

A nutria spotted in Elyson. Video Credit: Frank Samuel

Katy Neighborhood Lakes Provide a Perfect Home

While the nutria is known to live in Texas marshes, swamps, ponds and natural lakes these Katy nutrias seem to love the lovely neighborhood lakes we provide for them.

Texas Parks and Recreation lists the nutria as an unwanted animal for the state. It can cause damage by burrowing which can lead to erosion, damage roads and more. Nutria also eat aquatic vegetation. This can kill off aquatic vegetation, causing erosion and loss of habitat for other species.

Some Katy neighborhoods have put up wiring around the base of the trees near the lakes to prevent the nutrias from damaging them.

While they can hurt the landscape, these critters are harmless to residents and add to the many Katy wildlife that you can see while out walking in your community.

Learn more about other Katy critters in our most recent spotlight.


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