Texas wildlife officials warn residents not to feed swamp rats at park

FORT WORTH, Texas — Texas wildlife officials are warning residents not to feed the swamp rats that have infested a Fort Worth park.

Nutria, also called swamp rats, are large, semi-aquatic rodents that can become a nuisance.

"They can eat around three pounds a day," Rachel Richter, a biologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife told WFAA. "If not controlled, you end up with erosion, destabilized banks, decreased water quality, and a lot less of a habitat for native plants, animals, and fish."

Richter saw about 50 nutria at Krauss Baker Park in Fort Worth last year. She believes there are about 20 well-fed rats there now.

Nutria were recently seen with ducks eating pet food that was left at the park.

“Feeding wildlife is really something that you shouldn’t do under any circumstances. It can cause the populations to artificially inflate, which can damage the ecosystem,” Richter said. “When people feed wildlife, they normally have the best intentions. But they don’t realize that they could be doing harm.”