BATON ROUGE, La. — Officials in Louisiana have worked out a deal with the owners of a 22-pound pet nutria that will allow them to keep the swamp rat, according to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries
The LDWF in a statement said that they have worked out an agreement with the New Orleans couple that allows them to keep the animal with certain restrictions.
The New Orleans Advocate reported that the conditions include regular veterinary checkups, being caged while in the seafood shop, and keeping it away from shop customers.
The nutria is a rodent with orange teeth and is considered a “wetlands-damaging pest,” according to The Associated Press.
“The swamp rat was allowed to swim in the family pool, nest in the bathroom of the Lacostes’ home, ride in the couple’s pickup truck, and accompany Denny to work at the Metairie seafood shop he owns, where Neuty was popular among customers,” according to the New Orleans Advocate
LDWF Sec. Jack Montoucet said the owners have applied for a permit for their nutria.
The owners were issued a citation previously for possession of a wild animal that is not permitted. The statement said, “Nutria are an invasive species with a population that has caused considerable damage to the state’s coastline, crops, and marshes.”
The announcement came following an online petition with 17,000 signatures that demanded that Louisiana leave the nutria named Neuty with his family, The New Orleans Advocate. Neuty has been living with his family for more than two years.
The LDWF said on Thursday that it had made arrangements to get the nutria to the Baton Rouge Zoo, the newspaper reported.
Denny Lacoste came across the nutria in 2020 when his siblings were killed in traffic. He and his wife both hand-fed him and cared for him as he recovered from his injuries, according to the AP. He has since become their family pet and a TikTok star.
Nutria was brought to North America over a century ago, according to the AP. Louisiana considers them to be a “nuisance invasive species” for many reasons including, “Their appetite for wetlands vegetation and their burrowing into levees hinder flood control, harm agriculture and contribute to coastal wetlands loss.”
Bounties have been put on the species.