VMM - Rat control occurrences in Flanders, Belgium

Latest version published by Flanders Environment Agency (VMM) on 16 May 2024 Flanders Environment Agency (VMM)
Publication date:
16 May 2024
CC-BY 4.0

Download the latest version of this resource data as a Darwin Core Archive (DwC-A) or the resource metadata as EML or RTF:

Data as a DwC-A file download 34,350 records in English (1 MB) - Update frequency: as needed
Metadata as an EML file download in English (21 KB)
Metadata as an RTF file download in English (14 KB)


The "VMM - Rat control occurrences in Flanders, Belgium" dataset is an occurrence dataset published by Flanders Environment Agency (VMM). The dataset is assembled by the VMM to monitor and control pest organisms in Flanders from 2016 onwards. It mainly includes observations of muskrats and brown rats, but other animal and plant pest species are included as well. Here it is published as a standardized Darwin Core Archive and includes for each occurrence record: an occurrenceID, scientific name, number of individuals (optional), date and location. Issues with the dataset can be reported at https://github.com/riparias/vmm-rattenapp-occurrences/issues.

We have released this dataset under a Creative Commons Attribution license. We would appreciate it if you follow the INBO norms for data use (https://www.inbo.be/en/norms-data-use) when using the data. If you have any questions regarding this dataset, don't hesitate to contact us via the contact information provided in the metadata or via opendata@inbo.be.

Data Records

The data in this occurrence resource has been published as a Darwin Core Archive (DwC-A), which is a standardized format for sharing biodiversity data as a set of one or more data tables. The core data table contains 34,350 records.

This IPT archives the data and thus serves as the data repository. The data and resource metadata are available for download in the downloads section. The versions table lists other versions of the resource that have been made publicly available and allows tracking changes made to the resource over time.


The table below shows only published versions of the resource that are publicly accessible.

How to cite

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

Slootmaekers D, Gevens F, Reyserhove L, Oldoni D, Desmet P (2024). VMM - Rat control occurrences in Flanders, Belgium. Version 1.118. Flanders Environment Agency (VMM). Occurrence dataset. https://ipt.inbo.be/resource?r=vmm-rattenapp-occurrences&v=1.118


Researchers should respect the following rights statement:

The publisher and rights holder of this work is Flanders Environment Agency (VMM). This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY 4.0) License.

GBIF Registration

This resource has been registered with GBIF, and assigned the following GBIF UUID: ddd51fa5-97ce-48ff-9a58-a09d7e76b103.  Flanders Environment Agency (VMM) publishes this resource, and is itself registered in GBIF as a data publisher endorsed by Belgian Biodiversity Platform.


Occurrence; Observation; Flemish Environment Agency; VMM; damage prevention; animal damage; pest control‚ invasive alien species; muskrat; public awareness campaign


Dan Slootmaekers
  • Metadata Provider
  • Originator
Flanders Environment Agency (VMM)
Frank Gevens
  • Originator
  • Point Of Contact
Flanders Environment Agency (VMM)
Lien Reyserhove
  • Originator
  • User
Research Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO)
Damiano Oldoni
  • Originator
Research Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO)
Peter Desmet
  • Originator
Research Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO)

Geographic Coverage

Flanders, Belgium

Bounding Coordinates South West [50.67, 2.53], North East [51.51, 5.94]

Taxonomic Coverage

The main species included are muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus, 45%), brown rat (Rattus norvegicus, 15%) and Eurasion beaver (Castor fiber, 10%). The dataset also includes records of water primrose (Ludwigia grandiflora), floating pennywort (Hydrocotyle ranunculoides) and several other animal and plant pest species.

Kingdom Plantae, Animalia

Temporal Coverage

Start Date / End Date 2016-01-01 / 2022-05-24

Project Data

The spread of invasive alien species (IAS) is not hampered by administrative borders. Aquatic IAS, in particular, spread rapidly through the hydrographic network. To effectively control such species requires coordinated management at higher spatial scales. LIFE RIPARIAS (Reaching Integrated and Prompt Action in Response to Invasive Alien Species) aims to achieve such coordination across regional borders in Belgium, supported by open data and open infrastructure for early warning and management reporting. LIFE RIPARIAS aims at improving decision making on IAS management, early warning systems and management reporting tools. To this end, it develops an evidence-based workflow, translating national management objectives into concrete actions in an efficient manner. Ultimately the project aims at increasing the conservation status of aquatic and riparian habitats. More information on LIFE RIPARIAS is available at the project homepage: https://www.riparias.be/. You can also follow LIFE RIPARIAS on Twitter (@LIFEriparias) and Facebook (LIFE Riparias)

Title Reaching Integrated and Prompt Action in Response to Invasive Alien Species (LIFE RIPARIAS)
Funding LIFE RIPARIAS is co-funded by the three Belgian regions and the European Union in the framework of the LIFE Programme (LIFE19 NAT/BE/000953). It is running from 2021 to 2026.
Study Area Description Dijle, Mark and Zenne river basin of the Scheldt district, Belgium.
Design Description LIFE RIPARIAS focuses on aquatic and riparian plants as well as crayfish species located in the Dijle, Mark and Zenne river basin of the Scheldt district in Belgium. Cumulative observation data collected in 2000-2015, completed by data gathered from field surveillance in 2021-2022, will provide the baseline to design management objectives and define quantitative targets.

The personnel involved in the project:

Etienne Branquart
  • Author
Dido Gosse
  • Author
Jérémie Guyon
  • Author
Sonia Vanderhoeven
Xavier Vermeersch

Sampling Methods

Trappers of the VMM will prospect all streams and water bodies at least twice every year for signs of muskrat or coypu activity. Regions with higher population densities are prospected more frequently. Upon detection of either species, traps are deployed according to the management protocol for muskrat in Flanders (beheerregeling muskusrat in Vlaanderen). Every trapping site is registered by the trapper through the use of a mobile gps application. Per trapping site the trapper will deploy one or multiple traps, all of which are registered in the application. The traps are checked frequently, preferably daily. Both catches and bycatches are registered for each individual visit to a trapping site. As soon as all muskrats/coypu have been caught at a location or whenever no new signs of rat activity are noticed, the trapper will remove the traps. For plants, water bodies and streams are visually screened by boat or from the river bank, at least on an annual basis. All records are recorded and/or exterminated.

Study Extent All public watercourses in Flanders are prospected at least annually. All invasive species are recorded and/or exterminated.
Quality Control Imagery is often provided through the registration app. Uncertain ID’s are double checked.

Method step description:

  1. The source data for this standardized dataset is managed by the Flanders Environment Agency (VMM).
  2. An SQL script was developed to transform the data to Darwin Core. This mapping script was uploaded to a GitHub repository https://github.com/riparias/vmm-rattenapp-occurrences/tree/main/sql and includes the following steps:
  3. Perform some basic data cleaning of the raw data.
  4. Generate stable and unique identifiers for each occurrence (occurrenceID).
  5. Create a occurrence core file (https://rs.gbif.org/core/dwc_occurrence_2022-02-02.xml).

Additional Metadata

Alternative Identifiers ddd51fa5-97ce-48ff-9a58-a09d7e76b103