Rat-like coypu feared to be spreading around the country

The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is urging members of the public to report any sightings of a rat-like creature, known as a coypu.

Described as being up to a metre long, with two distinctive large, bright orange incisor teeth, these semi-aquatic rodents have been appearing recently in increasing numbers, particularly in the Cork region.

The NPWS removed 11 coypu from the Curraheen River, a tributary of the river Lee, last autumn. However, a coypu was photographed close to Cork city last week.

This sighting confirms the NPWS’s worst fears; the rodent is breeding and has the potential to spread across the countryside using the waterways.

Speaking to Agriland, Danny O’Keeffe, a Conservation Ranger with the National Parks and Wildlife Service, said at the moment the issue is still quite confined to the Cork region. However, there have been alleged sightings reported in Dublin, Tipperary and Tullamore.

O’Keeffe also commented on the potential threat the coypu could have on agriculture.

Coypus can cause serious damage to root crops, such as potatoes, carrots and turnips, so we are very concerned about coypus spreading around the country.

“At this stage we’re not looking at a major problem, but something we need to sort out pretty quickly.”

The coypu is highly destructive to aquatic vegetation and their burrowing can cause extensive damage to river banks and flood defences.

It is reported that in the UK it took 11 years and millions of pounds to eradicate the rodent entirely.

Keeping track of their spread is essential to restrict the potential longer-term costs associated with the invasive species.


The coypu looks like a very large rat, weighing between five and nine kilograms, and measuring as long as one metre. It has dark fur with lighter ends, a white muzzle, a long tail and distinctive yellow-orange teeth.

The NPWS urges anyone who comes across a coypu – or even what they think is a coypu – to notify them.

Contact Danny O’Keeffe at: 087-2472264 or by email at: [email protected]