Ondatra zibethicus (Linnaeus, 1766)

English Muskrat ISEIA: B3 – Watch List. IAS of EU concern.
Lëtzebuergesch Bisamrat EASIN
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Nederlands Muskusrat Back to the list of vertebrates

Report the species

Report Ondatra zibethicus to the National Museum of Natural History.

Importance and distribution in Luxembourg

Distribution map of Ondatra zibethicus Linnaeus, 1766 in Luxembourg. Recorder-LUX & iNaturalist, 2019.08.21.

The first documented occurrence of the species in Luxembourg dates from 1954. It was found by zoologist Joseph Hoffmann on 17th August 1954 in the resected meander named Al Mudder near Pettingen, Municipality of Mersch (Heuertz 1957: 43). The invasion originated in the Lorraine Moselle. Since then, the species has spread and has achieved a nationwide distribution.

Historical note: because of the threat of an invasion from the Belgian-Dutch border, where the muskrat had escaped from farms, the Luxembourg Water and Forest Directorate issued a Grand-Ducal decree on 17 December 1930 prohibiting, inter alia, it’s import to or it’s transport in the Grand Duchy (Heuertz 1957: 46-47).

Overgrazing by muskrats can cause the local extinction of aquatic plants and the destruction of reed beds and of fish nursery areas. Due to its burrowing activity, the species degrades river banks and affects river flow. It can exert a strong predation pressure and threaten freshwater mussel and crustacean populations. It could also act as a reservoir of different pathologies and causes damages to agriculture. The muskrat is included in the appendix to the recommendation no 77 of the Council of Europe as a species which has proved to be a threat to biological diversity and for which eradication is strongly recommended (Source: http://ias.biodiversity.be/species/show/28).

Risk assessment

ISEIA protocol: B3 (3+3+3+1) = Watch List (Ries et al. 2014: 199).

Bibliography concerning Luxembourg

  • Heuertz, M., 1957. Premières captures de rats musqués (Ondatra zibethicus L.) au grand-duché de Luxembourg. Archives de la section des sciences de l’Institut grand-ducal N.S. 24: 41-51.
  • Naturverwaltung (ed.), 2013. Jagbare Wildtierarten Luxemburgs. 96 pp.
  • Pir, J.B. & L. Schley, 2015. Développement des connaissances sur la répartition et l’écologie des mammifères au Luxembourg entre 1990 et 2015. Bull. Soc. Nat. luxemb. 116: 437-455.
  • Ries, C., M. Pfeiffenschneider, Engel, E., J.-C. Heidt & M. Lauff, 2014. Environmental impact assessment and black, watch and alert list classification after the ISEIA Protocol of vertebrates in Luxembourg. Bull. Soc. Nat. luxemb. 115: 195-201. [PDF 247 KB]
  • Schley, L., C. Schanck, M. Schaul & C. Sinner, 2001. Neubürger und Heimkehrer unter den Wildtieren Luxemburgs. Beiträge zur Jagd- und Wildforschung 26: 141-154.

Suggested citation of this webpage

Ries, C. & M. Pfeiffenschneider (Eds.), 2019. Ondatra zibethicus (Linnaeus, 1766). In: neobiota.lu - Invasive Alien Species in Luxembourg. URL: https://neobiota.lu/ondatra-zibethicus/ [21.08.2019].

 Last updated on Friday, September 28, 2018.