About Nutrias and Iguanas

Warning: you might want to become a vegan after reading this blog post!

We’ve mentioned our dog park here previously. It’s a gathering place for people with at least one thing in common – dogs,of course. From there, we’ve found a great deal of diversity in opinions and lifestyles. Trish has written a couple of posts about spirit contact, based on stories that she garnered from her contacts in the doggie domain. She also recently posted a story of a dog park friend whose life changed when her car died in the center lane of I-95 and survived to tell about it.

I’ve got a different kind of tale. I was talking with a couple of good ole boys, older lifelong Floridians who remember when Florida was a lot more rural than it is today. One of them, Jerry, grew up in the Pandhandle where his family owned 6,000 acres. He spent of lot of his youth outside, he told me the other day. He held up his cell phone and said he went more than 60 years “without looking at this thing and I survived.”

What he did do was a lot of hunting, and he told me about the time he shot a 500-pound boar with a .12 gauge shotgun, and the boar continued charging him. “I had to climb a tree and shoot it with my .375 Magnum.  Then he started talking about hunting squirrels and eating them, and that led to a story about hunting something called a nutria. “What the hell’s a nutria?” I asked.

“A big rat, up to 40 pounds. They’re good eating like the boars and deer, if you know how to cure them,” Jerry said.

A 40-pound rat? I went home and looked it up. A nutria, Google told me, was a large rodent that looks just like a huge rat.

According to an article in The Business Insider, the nutria is a web-footed animal with shaggy, brown outer fur and large, orange teeth, originally from South America. “The swamp creature was brought to the United States in the early 19th century and farmed for its fur. But as fur declined in popularity over the next century, many farms were shut down. Some animals were released into the wild by their owners, others are believed to have escaped.”

I don’t think I would care to eat one of these creatures, although the old boys were impressed when I told them that  I ordered guinea pig once while in Ecuador where it is considered a delicacy. It was bony and tasted terrible. I couldn’t finish the meal and was sick for two day. No more guinea pigs for me!

So all this conversation led to Jerry asking about iguanas. There must be people catching and eating them, he said. I’d never see iguanas, except in the Florida keys, until a few years ago. But now they are on an enormous growth spurt and apparently don’t have too many predators. But Jerry figured that some people were eating them, just as some people here eat alligator meat, which is the tail.

Just hours later, with no effort on my part, the answer popped up on my phone. An iguana synchro.

It was an on-line article from the Palm Beach Post about a guy who sells more than 10,000 pounds of iguana meat every month. Anshu Pathak’s California-based company, Exotic Meats, buys all the iquana tails he can get from Florida trappers.

Apparently, iguanas aren’t a pest like in South Florida, and Californians have developed an expensive taste for them. One pound of iguana meat sells for $60, and a jumbo piece, five to 10 pounds, runs $260. Back here in Florida, we just chase them away. But apparently in Central and parts of South America, iguanas are a food staple, and are called, “chicken of the trees.”

I think I’ll pass.

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I was looking for a nutria image for this post, having trouble uploading it, so I paused to make a move in a game of Words with Friends. I was juggling my letters and realized a word I could make: nutria!

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7 Responses to About Nutrias and Iguanas

  1. Jane says:

    Great synchro! I’ve only ever tried eel meat here in uk and it tasted like chicken

  2. Dale Dassel says:

    I’ll pass on alligator tail, but catfish with fried okra is a match made in heaven! Yum! 🙂

  3. Gia says:

    What a strange synchronicity – from a chat in a dog park to weird creatures to words with friends!

  4. Dale Dassel says:

    The only ‘exotic’ animal I’ve ever sampled was rattlesnake jerky, when a friend brought a bag of it to school one day in junior high. It tasted like really salty bacon, and looked exactly like those Bacos bits that you sprinkle on salad. Not bad tasting, but I’ve never gone out of my way to try snake meat since then! 😀

    • Trish and Rob says:

      You’re a more adventurous eater than I am, Dale. But Rob…well, he can tell you!

    • Trish and Rob says:

      There’s a small town about half an hour or so from us that has a restaurant with a menu that includes alligator tail. I tried it once and found it tough and gristly. I remember I wished that I’d ordered the catfish.

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