Coypu or Otter – Invasive Species Alert – WI MN 24/2019 UPDATE

UPDATE Mar 22: 

Earlier this week Waterways Ireland received notification of an unconfirmed report from the National Biodiversity Data Centre via National Parks and Wildlife Services of a Coypu on the Royal Canal. We are obliged to take this seriously, given the potential implications posed by a Coypu presence on Irish waterways. All evidence now leads us to believe that this was a case of mistaken identity and the report was likely that of native Otter, which are present on the Royal Canal.

As there is a legal obligation to remove such invasive species from the wild, Waterways Ireland will continue to work closely with National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and the National Biodiversity Data Centre (NBDC). The public are encouraged to contact NBDC ( with any record of the invasive Coypu, preferably with a confirmation photo, if they happen to come across this species on any waterbody

                  European Otter (Lutra lutra)

                      Coypu (Myocaster Coypus)









MARINE NOTICE  No 24 of 2019 – All Navigations – particularly Royal Canal – [Note:  See Alert Notice from NBDC with photos at the end of this Marine Notice]


Waterways Ireland wishes to advise all users of a large invasive rodent species that are highly damaging to River, Lake and Canal banks have been possibly sighted on the Royal Canal near Ashtown, Dublin.

Yellow/orange front teeth, webbed feet, white muzzle (Shutterstock) Up to 1m long (Eamonn Brennan)

The Coypu:

* Are highly invasive impacting on wildlife, river and canal bank stability and is a pest of agriculture crops.
* Eradication programmes can cost several millions of euro and are not always successful.
* Carry a number of diseases of importance to humans and domestic animals.
* Is a EU Regulated species of Union concern with trade, transport and reproduction restrictions in place    [No.1143/2014]
* Recent potential sighting of a Coypu in Cork City in 2017 and more recently on the Royal Canal in Ashtown Dublin in March 2019, raises concern of further spread.

What does it look like?
* Large semi-aquatic rodent up to 1 meter in head to tail length.
* Features same in juveniles.
* It can weigh 5-9kg.
* It has webbed hind feet.
* Dark fur often with lighter ends and has a white muzzle,
* Has long cylindrical tail (not fur tail like otter) and small slightly protruding ears.
* Distinctive features are large bright orange-yellow incisor (front) teeth usually visible.
* Coypu are generally found near permanent water.

Please do not confuse it with the Common otter (shown below) Source: Otter


Please keep a look out for these creatures along the waterways and especially along the Royal Canal at Ashtown and report sightings with photographs to any of the following below:
Waterways Ireland Environment Section 061-922141
NPWS at or your local National Parks and Wildlife ranger with details of location/date; a photo if available  or or [1] or

For more information:  Date issued: May, 2017 V 1.0

Patrick Harkin
Inspector of Navigation
20 March 2019
Tel:  353 90 6494232