Moscow foodies Russian for rat burgers

A nutria rat eating a burger (Getty)
A nutria rat eating a burger (Getty)

Russians are chowing down on rats.

No, it's not a result of what years of corruption has done to the country's economy. The opposite, in fact.

Nutria, also known as river rats, have become a delicacy in the capital. A restaurant only a few hundred metres from the Kremlin is charging $12 a burger, reports The Guardian.

"Every village in Krasnodar region would have 100 or so nutrias, and when you went to stay with your grandparents, they'd always stew one up for you," chef Takhir Kholikberdiev told the paper.

He insists it's a "clean animal".

"Not only is it a herbivore, but it washes all its food before it eats. And it's very high in omega-3 acids. A lot of doctors and dieticians recommend it."

Nutrias reproduce rapidly, so there's always a plentiful supply. In the difficult post-Soviet 1990s, their fur was an affordable substitute for fox or mink.

Mr Kholikberdiev doesn't think it'll be long before his innovation becomes a trend.

"Other chefs have started to use it here. And now, if you go to the market in Moscow, they might not have nutria available every day, but they'll get it in for you within a week if you ask."

In places they're not food - such as the US and the UK - nutrias are considered a pest.