Are there squirrels in Ireland? At the moment, there are two species of squirrels in Ireland. These are the red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) and the American grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis). However, the red squirrels are on the verge of the threat of local extinction due to the presence of the grey squirrels.
Are there squirrels in Ireland
According to history, it was in 1911 when grey squirrels were introduced to Co. Longford, a gift for a wedding. Only 12 animals were shipped from England to Ireland, but they, unfortunately, escaped. Thus, the spread of this grey species resulted in competition with the red squirrel, losing out to the grey squirrels.
Also, deforestation has made a significant impact on the extinction of these rodents.
Red squirrels are still widespread throughout Ireland, although their distribution is quite uneven. In contrast, the grey squirrel has spread throughout the eastern part of the country and continues to apply to the northwest and southwest. Red squirrels, however, have disappeared.
Where do squirrels live in Ireland
The red squirrels are native to Irish woodland areas and spend most of their time high up in trees, leap from tree to tree, and scamper along branches at high speeds while moving around. They feed, nest, and breed in trees and need a good amount of well-managed woodland to survive.
These squirrels are dependent on woodland as a habitat. Their population density varies with habitat, and they preferred hazel, beech, and Scots pine, from conifer forest to broadleaf woodland. Changes to either the type of the tree or the design of the woods can significantly affect their population.
Grey squirrels can thrive in any area as long they provide their primary food source: broadleaf tree seeds; these can be found in the forest, woods, parks, extensive gardens, and hedgerows. But they prefer habitats of mixed woodlands in Ireland.
They are often found in large forested areas with trees that supply plenty of diverse and available nut trees, like oak, hickory, and walnut. You can find them often in tree-filled areas near a permanent source of open freshwater.
What kind of squirrels are in Ireland
The red squirrel is a native species that has been present since before the Ice age. It is distinctly smaller, weighing at least half of a grey squirrel. Large bushy tails, ear tuffs, and usually red fur. Having a greyish hue during winter. Weighs around 100-350 grams. The total length is between 18-24cm. And have an average lifespan of 6 years.
Red squirrels spend the majority of their feeding time in the tree canopy. Red squirrels will hid against the opposite side of the tree trunk from an intruder. Red squirrels love to feast with hazelnut, cracking the shell in half. They feed mainly on tree seeds, although they can utilize fungi, fruit, and buds available in woodland.
Sometimes you find pine cones that have been nibbled, leaving what looks like an apple core behind. They are making their wild nest, called a drey, out of twigs, leaves, and strips of bark high up in the tree canopy. You will often see males chasing females through the trees, leaping across branches, and spiraling up in tree trunks.
Red squirrels do not hibernate, but they store their food for rainy days when fresh food is not available. But in their favored habitats of mixed broadleaf and coniferous woodland, as pine seeds are present over the winter months, red squirrels have a source of food all year round，when nuts are scarce.
While its grey counterpart can be a brown-red color in summer while in winter, this species displays a thick winter grey/silver coat on the upper side of the body with a white underside. Colors vary with chestnut markings on paws, hips, and face that sometimes lead to misidentification.
They are often found in woods, gardens, and parks. They are repeatedly proven to be very tame. They invade gardens with bird tables and feeders. Grey squirrels, just like the red squirrels, love to feast on hazelnut by crackling them in half. Grey squirrels have a broader diet, making greater use of alternative food sources, including grains, flowers, eggs, and tree barks.
Red squirrels have a source of food all year round, can eat seeds and nuts that are not ripe enough for the red squirrels to digest, so they get the food first. They store their food in autumn if it is abundant. Both species depend predominantly on nuts and seeds, so the fierce competition between them is intense. Female grey squirrels may have two litters of three to four young a year.
How to get rid of grey squirrels in Ireland
Grey squirrels are considered the main threat to endangered red squirrels. Grey squirrels compete with the red squirrels for food and space; they are also the carrier for the paradox virus, which can be fatal to red squirrels; not only that they are the cause of economic loss on forestry plantations by stripping the trunks the trees which cause to tree to die off. They also attack ornamentals plants, fruits, and vegetables, not only that they can inflict structural damage to your house and business.
The most common way to get rid of them is by preventing them physically from entering your house. Cover or block up all gaps and entry holes that the squirrels might use. Starved them, removed all food sources in your garden. Never feed squirrels or leave any food in your garden, lawns, or anywhere outside your house.
Though shooting them is allowed, don’t do it within your area of vicinity for safety reasons, and if in case you need to shoot them, do it most humanely.
Though these squirrels bring good and bad effects on our eco-social environment, they still have an essential part of our ecosystem. Because of their eating and food-saving habits, they have buried the seeds or nuts for later consumption. Thus, they forget the spot where they bury it and will eventually sprout and grow into new trees, and forest regeneration happens because of them.