By Kieran O’Mahony
GIANT rodents called coypu, also known as ‘river rats’, have been spotted in West Cork.
Sightings of the coypu – up to 1m long with incisor teeth – have been reported in the Halfway area, according to Danny O’Keeffe, local ranger with the Parks & Wildlife Service.
‘I spoke to someone who saw two of them there recently, but with any report we need to get confirmation and set up monitoring stations to observe them,’ Danny told The Southern Star, referring to the village on the Cork to Bandon road.
‘It’s absolutely possible that they could spread further west as there’s no doubt rivers are their highways. Last year we received four reports of sightings and we ended up catching 10 of them within a core area off the Curraheen River in Cork city,’ he said.
The South American rodent, which can weigh 5-9kg and be up to 1m long, is on an EU list of 37 invasive species that were introduced to Europe.
The female can produce two litters in one year with the juveniles sexually maturing after only three months.
‘The priority is to get surveillance systems set up and stop them from spreading as they create huge damage on riverbanks,’ said Danny.
‘Ideally the objective is to completely eradicate them. We also have to sit down with other agencies to work together to tackle the problem.’
If you see a coypu then email [email protected] or call/text him on 087-2472264.