Coypus, semi-aquatic rodents bred for fur in Bulgaria, recently found themselves as accidental migrants to neighboring Turkey. Hundreds of coypus, also called nutria, have been sighted on the banks of the Tundzha (Tunca) and Maritsa (Meriç) rivers, two bodies of water that cross northwestern Turkey, Bulgaria and Greece. In Edirne, Bulgaria’s gateway to the country, Coypus, displaced by last week’s floods in Bulgaria, where Tundzha flew over its banks and kept alive by devouring frogs and plant roots.
The animals, which resemble giant rats, are actually thousands of kilometers from their home, the South American countries. Male coypus weigh around 8 kilograms while females can reach around 5 kilograms. In Turkish they are called “su maymunu” (water monkey).
Osman Tireler, who takes his cattle to pasture near Tunca, says that Coypus is occasionally on the Turkish side. “I heard they were first spotted here 40 years ago. They live near streams (connection to the river). Personally, I’ve counted about 40 Coypus here. They don’t avoid people and don’t harm nature, ”he told the Demirören (DHA) news agency on Thursday.
The rodents make their way into Turkey at times by escaping fur farms, although mass crossings into the country are rare.