Nutria rats aren’t nearly as common in southwest Mississippi as they are in the marshes of south Louisiana — which explains a Walthall County man’s surprise when he ran over one Tuesday night.

Leo King was driving on Magee’s Creek Road around 9 p.m. when he struck a large creature standing on its hind feet in the road.

King went back to examine it and found a furry creature over a foot long with a naked tail and yellow curved teeth.

“It looks like a beaver except the tail is not wide enough,” King said.

Nutria rats are natives of South America brought to the southern United States by fur ranchers. They escaped into the wild, where they feed on vegetation in marshy areas.

Adults typically reach two feet long and weigh up to 20 pounds.

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