At a time when wearing fur is generally considered a fashion faux pas, designers like Oscar de le Renta and Billy Reid are taking a big fashion risk. They are selling pelts from an unusual source: the nutria.
Ever heard of the nutria? It’s a nocturnal, semi-aquatic rodent that weighs around 12 pounds. It has the body of a beaver, the tail of a rat, the feet of a duck, and it wears its nipples on the sides of its body rather than on its belly. It is also destroying Louisiana’s wetlands.
In the 1930s, Louisiana fur farms imported these animals from Argentina for their supple pelts. Unfortunately, some nutria got loose and made Louisiana’s marshes their new home. As the demand for nutria fur diminished in the 1980s, these animals went from posh fashion statement to ecological pest.