Actions to rescue the desman


Clara Garrido

The Pyrenean desman (Galemys pyrenaicus) is a small endemic mammal of the Iberian Peninsula that lives in the waterheads of mountain rivers. It is an aquatic animal which uses the natural holes found in the banks of mountain streams as burrows, where there are clean and oxygenated waters flowing regularly throughout the year.

It is an animal with nocturnal habits and is therefore highly elusive. It is easier to find traces, such as these dropping sites, which are usually found on rocks and semi-submerged objects and indicate its presence in the area.

The droppings are very dark brownish or black in colour and are notable for their distinctive granular texture and being greasy to the touch. They contain traces of the macroinvertebrates on which they feed.

Asturias, Cantabria and Galicia are home to the largest populations, although they have shown a regressive trend and have an unfavourable conservation status in the Atlantic region.

These are some of the threats faced by the desman:


Habitat degradation

Hydraulic structures

Illegal fishing

Invasive alien species

Climate change

DIVAQUA project actions

Improvement of the riparian habitat in the middle section of the Cares river and reinforcement of the European chain fern (W. radicans) populations, creating essential areas of shelter for the desman.

Removal of barriers and dams to improve river connectivity and reduce the effects of diversions and by-pass channels.

Improvement of river water quality to boost the populations of the aquatic macroinvertebrates that make up the diet of the Pyrenean desman.