What is this strange animal?

My Ballard reader “Old Lady” emailed us this photo and asks, “What is this?”

She explains: “This guy showed up on our deck tonight on Seaview Ave. At first I thought it was a big rat and then thought it might be a nutria, but when I checked out information on nutria, it sounds like they are a lot bigger and have tails. This didn’t have a tail and was about the size of a guinea pig, say 10” long and about 3-4 lbs. It didn’t have any fear of us at all. I had to prod it gently with a barbecue fork to get it away from my pea vines.”

53 comments on “What is this strange animal?”

  1. Here is how I catch them. Get a metal trap suitable to catch small live animals. Since mountain beavers don't like to touch metal, you need to sift your trap into the ground by moving back and forth making a nice sandy floor inside the trap. Next, cover the trap release mechanism with leaves. The food to use is sliced apples, leading them out of the hole and into the trap over the release mechanism.

    Mountain beavers are very destructive and have eaten my rhoddies, azaleas, ferns and hostas to the ground. It took me 20 years to completely eliminate them.

    Good luck – now I am tackling the racoons.

  2. Yep – that's a mountian beaver and I have been fighting the little critters for 20 years. One day 20 years ago I planted several nice 6 foot rhoddies on my hillside behind my house. One day I woke up to admire my work and noticed a rhoddy missing from the top of the hill. All branches were trimmed to the ground and leading into a nearby hole in the hillside.

    And so began “beaverquest 1990 to 2010”. Here is what I learned over the years to trap them. First, they don't like to touch metal, so you need to sift your metal small animal trap into the ground. Next, line the trap with some vegetation, I usually use rhoddy leaves that they just got through trimming.

    Lead small slices of apple out of the beavers hole leading into your trap and make sure the apple pieces go to the end of the trap so they can trip it.

    Right now, as I write this message, I have a new beaver who is quite smart. This one keeps eating the apple slices and not setting the trap off. I have even set the trap hair trigger, but no luck yet.

    These little suckers are quite destructive. They will eat rhoddies, azaleas, ferns, and hostas. My wife watched one a few years back each a large evergreen fern to the ground and hawl it off in less than an hour.

  3. I was assuming that it was that rats had gotten into our compost bin, but these guys have no tails and their substantial tunnels seems to run virtually everywhere in our yard, and beneath our six garden beds. I was blaming moles for eating our entire garden (from the roots) last season. Now I’m guessing it’s been moles all along. This past year we got zero zuchinnis, 2 cucumbers, zero pumpkins, and our entire beet crop was eaten. Usually our garden has been prolific, but I’m guessing they are eating the roots, and keeping our vine vegetables too tiny to produce. Anyone else have trouble with mt beavers in their garden and compost. Can I be sure they are not rats? They have no tails, and I cannpt find any species of rat in Seattle without a tail.

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