The discovery and capture of an exotic South American rodent on the Mulcair River was not the first time that Tipperary made the headlines for its strange animals.
Last week’s trapping of Rodney, a three-foot coypu, or swamp rat, brought to mind the trapping of muskrat in Dromineer in the Thirties, one of which is on display in the Natural History Museum in Dublin.
Local historian Donal Whelan recalled that the muskrats were imported by local landlord RJ Minnit in 1927 after he set up a fur farm. However a pair gnawed through their wire cage and escaped.
“By 1933 they had infested an area of 150 square miles. There were concerns they would undermine riverbanks and cause flooding. There was also the fear this would have consequences for the canal bank at the ESB power station in Ardnacrusha,” he said.
The Muskrat Act of 1933 was brought in, giving the Minister for Agriculture the power to exterminate them. An expert trapper, Joe Wade, was brought over from England. Along with locals, they trapped over 600 muskrats and the Government disposed of the pelts at a cost of £1 each.
Donal pointed out that the event is recorded in Danny Grace’s book, Portrait of a Parish - Monsea and Killodiernan.
Meanwhile, Rodney’s pelt is safe as he is in Kildare Animal Foundation Wildlife Unit.