Warning issued as large invasive rodent discovered in Ireland

Waterways Ireland has circulated an invasive species alert notice after reports that a large invasive rodent species was sighted along the Royal Canal.

The species that the warning relates to is known as a Coypu or the Nutria. The animal is described as being a large, herbivorous, semi aquatic rodent.

According to the notice: “The rodents are highly invasive impacting on wildlife, river and canal bank stability and are a pest of agricultural crops.”

The notice explained: “Waterways Ireland wishes to advise all users of a large invasive rodent species that has been possibly sighted on the Royal Canal near Ashtown, Dublin.”

Members of the public have been warned if they come into contact with the rodent, “not to attempt to engage, trap or harm these animals”.

The Coypu can be identified by the following characteristics:
  • Large semi-aquatic rodent up to 1m in head to tail length;
  • It can weigh 5-9kg;
  • It has webbed hind feet;
  • Dark fur often with lighter ends and has a white muzzle;
  • Has a long cylindrical tail (not a fur tail like an otter) and small, slightly protruding ears;
  • Distinctive features are large, bright, orange-yellow front teeth (incisors) usually visible;
  • Coypu are generally found near permanent water.

The notice also explained that eradication programmes can cost several millions of euro and are not always successful. It noted that the rodent can carry a number of diseases of importance to humans and domestic animals.

Concluding, the notice urged people to keep a look out for the creatures along the waterways and especially along the Royal Canal.

Sightings of the rodent should be reported – with photographs – to any of the following:

The notice was issued on Wednesday, March 20, and more information on the Coypu is available on the biodiversity Ireland website.