Canal coypu alert

Coypu (Myocastor coypus) by Douwe Schut

Rat on this giant rodent but don’t try to catch it

A STRANGE visitor has been sighted along the banks of the Royal Canal. It is believed to be a coypu, officially listed as “a large invasive rodent” from south America.

It has bright orange teeth, a long cylindrical tail, and webbed back feet. They feed on vegetation and are particularly fond of carrots.

Coypus are not aggressive, but the rodents, which can be up to a metre long and weigh up to 9kg, carry a number of diseases that could be harmful to humans and domestic animals.
Waterways Ireland has issued an “invasive species alert” and warned the public “not to engage” the animals but to report any sightings, with photographs where possible.

Sightings of the coypu have been reported near the Ashtown area of the canal, close to Castleknock.

The species originates from wetlands in South America but they have spread to many parts of Europe and are a common sight on waterways in Germany and France.

It is believed the animal was introduced as a novelty attraction to a pet farm in Cork but some escaped in 2014 and began breeding on the outskirts of Cork city. Several were trapped by the National Parks and Wildlife Service in a tributary of the River Lee.

Waterways Ireland has provided a checklist for how to spot a coypu, which are often confused with otters. They have large bright orange-yellow front teeth, usually visible.

They have webbed hind feet and a long cylindrical tail (not a fur tail like an otter) and small slightly protruding ears. They have dark fur often with lighter ends and a white muzzle.

You should not attempt to trap or harm these animals but report any sightings to Waterways Ireland Environment Section 061-922141 or [email protected]


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