Wednesday 16 April 2014

Is the Gravesend giant rat a Coypu?

I just saw this tweet from the Newsshopper

If it has webbed hind feet, it could be a Coypu. They're herbivores and eaten in France (Ragondins) and South America. My brother had a pond in his garden in France which ragondins invaded and I understand they are causing damage to the Broads in Norfolk and Suffolk.

They are also a problem on the Bayou in New Orleans. I was told they had escaped from captivity on an island owned by McIlhenny (of Tabasco fame) and bred in the wild. I've seen them there - they are enormous - and I may even have a photo which I will look out.

I have eaten pâté de ragondin in the Vendée and came across this recipe for
ragoût de ragondin on a French website.

Ragoût de Ragondin1 ragondin of approx. 2 kgs in weight2 onions2 clove garlic2 tablespoons flourSalt, pepperRosemary, Thyme, Bay leaf, Herbes de Provence½ litre red wine½ litre waterI can tomatoes peeled and chopped3 carrots4 medium potatoes
Cut the ragondin into pieces and brown evenly before removing from pot. Brown the onions (chopped) and the garlic before returning the meat to the pot and sprinkling in the flour. Mix well. Add the wine, water and tomatoes and all of the seasoning. Cook at a medium heat for an hour then add the carrots and potatoes and simmer for a further twenty five minutes or until the vegetables are cooked.
Serve with a glass of fine red wine and toast yourself for helping save the environment.
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I would be wary of eating from the wild, however, without checking with public health as they may be carriers of various parasites such as Liver fluke. Could they also be carriers of Weil's disease which is believed to have caused the death in 2010 of Olympic gold medal-winning rower Andy Holmes ?

John Austin
April 2014