Online Encyclopedia


Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V07, Page 355 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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COYPU, the native name of a large South American aquatic rodent mammal, known very generally among European residents in the country as nutria (the Spanish word for otter) and scientifically as Myocastor (or Myopotamus) coypu. Its large size, aquatic habits, partially webbed hind-toes, and the smooth, broad, orange-coloured incisors, are sufficient to distinguish this rodent from the other members of the family Capromyidae. Coypu are abundant in the fresh waters of South America, even small ponds being often tenanted by one or more pairs. Should the water dry up, the coypu seek fresh homes. Although subsisting to a considerable extent on aquatic plants, these rodents frequently come ashore to feed, especially in the evening. Several young are produced at a birth, which are carried on their mother's back when swimming. The fur is of some commercial value, although rather stiff and harsh; its colour being reddish-brown. (See RODENTIA.)
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