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Canada's Species   Mammals


Myocastor coypus

Originally a native of South America, this otter-sized amphibious mammal was introduced to North America as a farmed fur-bearer. It has an uncertain distribution in Canada but has been sighted in British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec. Being aquatic by nature, the coypu has moved into marshes, lakes and other aquatic habitats since its introduction, and there is fear that it may supplant the native muskrat. The coypu is colonial, preferring to live with others of its kind rather than living a solitary existence. It feeds mainly on aquatic vegetation such as cattails, burr-reeds, sedges, and water milfoil. It is relatively long lived, reaching a maximum age of ten years in the wild. The coypu has no true predators; only the otter, mink and coyote being possible threats.

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