Learning to recognize where alligators may be present
Where you see tree scars like this, but DON'T see nutria, chances are, alligators may be in the vicinity.
Nutria are semi-aquatic rodents that look much like beaver. Native to South America, they were imported to the U.S. in the 1930's for "fur farming." Nutria quickly escaped the farms and spread into marshlands throughout Louisiana and Texas.
Nutria primarily eat aquatic plants, but will also eat the bark of young trees near water. They have few natural predators here except for the alligator. When alligators were almost hunted to extinction, nutria populations exploded.
The photo here shows a tree whose bark was most likely eaten by nutria when it was much younger. You can see similar scars on numerous trees near the shoreline in East End Park. Nutria were once plentiful on Lake Houston, but are rarely seen now. Wherever you see scars like these, but don't see the animals that caused them, alligators are most likely present.
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