USGS - science for a changing world

National Wetlands Research Center

All USGS NWRC only
Home | Staff Index | Contact Us | Jobs | Site Index 

Worldwide Distribution, Spread of, and Efforts to Eradicate the Nutria (Myocastor coypus)


Europe Nutria Map Netherlands Belgium Russia Italy France Spain Denmark Finland Sweden Norway England Ireland Germany Poland Former Republic of Czechoslovakia Former Republic of Czechoslovakia Austria Hungary Romania Bulgaria Greece Switzerland Macedonia - Former Republic of Yugoslavia Serbia - Former Republic of Yugoslavia Montenegro - Former Republic of Yugoslavia Bosnia - Herz. - Former Republic of Yugoslavia Croatia Former Republic of Yugoslavia Slovenia - Former Republic of Yugoslavia
Austria: Nutria have been bred in Austria (Laurie, 1946). The capture of free-living nutria began in 1935 (Aliev, 1967)

Belgium: Nutria have been bred in captivity since the 1930s and are now feral (Laurie, 1946; Aliev, 1967; Litjens, 1980). Nutria occur west of the Maas River near the city of Limburg (Litjens, 1980).

Bulgaria: Aliev (1967) did not report nutria here. Mitchell-Jones and others (1999) reported nutria along the borders with Greece and Romania.

Former Republic of Czechoslovakia (Czech Republic and Slovakia): According to Kinler and others (1987) and Aliev (1967), nutria have been raised in captivity.

: Stubbe (1989) reported nutria were observed in the wild in Denmark in the 1930s and 1940s but could not survive subsequent harsh winters. Currently, no nutria are reported in Denmark (Mitchell-Jones and others, 1999).

: The first nutria were imported into Great Britain in 1929 for fur farms (Laurie, 1946). A 10-year eradication campaign was started in 1981 that employed 24 trappers (Gosling and Baker, 1987). On January 10, 1989 no nutria had been trapped in 21 months and the trapping campaign was declared a success and terminated (Gosling and Baker, 1989).

Aliev’s (1967) range map indicated wild nutria populations in Finland. In the early 1990s nutria were reported escaped from fur farms, and wild populations existed in the south of Finland near Turku (K. Jutila, oral commun.). Nutria were even listed as a game species by a hunting organization (Finnish Hunters’ Central Organization, 2000). However, Mitchell-Jones (1999) classifies them as extinct in the wild. It is hypothesized that harsh winters caused them to die out in the area (K. Jutila, oral commun.).

Introduced into France as early as 1882, fur farming began in earnest from 1925 to 1928 (Bourdelle, 1939). Some nutria escaped captivity and became feral (Bourdelle, 1939). From 1974 to 1985 they increased in number and have been controlled with anti-coagulant poisoning (Abbas, 1991).

Nutria were first introduced into Germany in 1926, and by 1935 small wild colonies began to appear in the Elbe-Trave Canal (Van Den Brink, 1968; Stubbe, 1992; Gebhardt, 1996).

: Nutria have been raised in captivity in Greece (Aliev, 1967). Between 1948 and 1966 they were observed in the wild in a variety of habitats such as ponds, lakes, ditches, rivers, swamps, marshes, meadows, and wooded areas (Ehrlich, 1967).

Nutria have been farmed in Hungary (Sztojkov and others, 1982; Kinler and others, 1987; Salyi and others, 1988). However, Mitchell-Jones and others (1999) list them as present in southern Hungary on the border.

Aliev’s (1967) range map showed their presence here, but he provided no further information. Mitchell-Jones and others (1999) reported them as not being present.

First imported into Italy in 1928 for commercial use (Cocchi and Riga, 1999). Nutria were first reported in the wild in 1960 (Reggiani and others, 1993). Nutria have spread from Italy to Sicily and Sardinia and are presently regarded as a pest species because of the damage they cause to rice farms (Cocchi and Riga, 1999). Piero Genovese (written commun., 2003) calculated that between 1996 and 2000, nutria caused 14 million euros in damage, and losses from nutria are projected to rise 9-12 million euros/year.

Nutria were introduced into the Netherlands around 1930 for fur farming, and by 1940 were observed in the wild (Litjens, 1980). Because they damage levees and the sugar beet crop they are considered a candidate for eradication by European agencies (Litjens, 1980). Control is by trapping (Litjens, 1984). Despite population losses from trapping and harsh winters nutria persist in the Neatherlands because thermal pollution in rivers allow some to survive harsh winters and immigration from Belgium and Germany replenishes the population (Litjens, 1980).

Captive breeding has been practiced in Norway (Aliev, 1967; Laurie, 1946; Van Den Brink, 1968). However, Mitchell-Jones and others (1999) list them as extinct in the wild.

: Bred in captivity but also managed in a semiwild state on ponds in Poland (Ehrlich, 1962; Kinler and others, 1987). Observed in the wild there since 1948 (Ehrlich, 1967). In a semicaptive system ponds are drained in the winter to protect the nutria from freezing in the ice (Ehrlich, 1962).

Aliev’s (1967) review did not indicate the animals were present in Romania. In Stubbe’s (1989) review of nutria in Germany, he noted they had been observed in the wild. They are now on the southern border with Bulgaria and along the Black Sea (Mitchell-Jones and others, 1999).

Nutria were captive bred in Spain (Aliev, 1967). In 1999, (Mitchell-Jones and others) they were listed as extinct in the wild in Spain. However, recent corresponence (Piero Genovesi, written commun., 2003) indicates that small populations of nutria have become established in northern Spain along the border with France, where they apparently migrated from.

A range map indicated their presence in the wild in 1967 (Aliev 1967), and they continue to be raised on farms. However, Mitchell-Jones and others (1999) list them as extinct in the wild.

Switzerland: Mitchell-Jones and others (1999) reported coypus within Switzerland, although Aliev (1967) did not.

Former Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia - Herz., Macedonia, Croatia, and Slovenia):
Nutria were raised in captivity in Yugoslavia (Aliev, 1967). Their current status is unknown.


Africa - East Asia - Europe - Central Asia and Middle East - North America - South America

References - Related Links

Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices

Take Pride in America logo logo U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
Web Site Technical Issues:
Web Site Content Questions:
Page Last Modified: Monday, 28-Sep-2015 14:02:15 EDT