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Swamp Rat - The Story of Dixie's Nutria Invasion

Swamp Rat

The Story of Dixie's Nutria Invasion

By Theodore G. Manno
Foreword by Elaine Miller Bond
Series: America's Third Coast Series

Hardcover : 9781496811943, 272 pages, 31 b&w illustrations; 1 table, May 2017

The complicated story of the unstoppable expansion of nutria in America’s southern wetlands


Theodore G. Manno traces the history of nutria from their natural range in South America to their status as an invasive species known for destroying the environmentally and economically important wetlands along the Gulf Coast. In this definitive book on “swamp rats,” Manno vividly recounts western expansion and the explosion of the American fur industry. Then he details an apocalyptic turn—to replace an overhunted beaver population in North America, humans introduced nutria.

With an eclectic repertoire of true stories that read like fiction and are played out by larger-than-life characters, Manno conveys the legend of empire-seeking fur trappers, the bizarre miscommunications that led to nutria releases, and the sadness that comes with killing millions of nutria whose ancestors were never meant to leave their South American habitat. He tells of disastrous interactions among hungry nutria, storm surges from Hurricane Katrina, and major oil spills. His extensively researched and epic narrative, accompanied by more than thirty photographs and entertaining interviews with biologists, historians, fashion designers, and chefs, weaves a poignant tale of empire, conquest, fortune, and even Tabasco Sauce.

Manno provides a full overview of what is currently known about nutria—a species now aggressively hunted with a bounty program because of their reputation for wetland destruction.


"Through interviews with biologists, historians, fashion designers and even chefs, Manno tells the poignant tale of how the nutria problem was born, how it grew and what steps have been taken to remedy it."

- Donna Price, Lake Charles American Press

"If you haven't heard of the nutria, you soon will, for this little critter—cuddly to some, revoltingly rat-like to others—is moving in. Swamp Rat is a deft and delightful guide to the natural history of the South's strangest invasive species."

- Gordon Grice, author of The Red Hourglass: Lives of the Predators and The Book of Deadly Animals