By Dick Warner

Red squirrels are native Irish animals. However, there have been several introductions of foreign red squirrels here in the past at times when their numbers declined dramatically.

Their decline in recent decades is connected to the spread of the larger American grey squirrel, which was introduced in 1911.

Their strongholds are now in the west of Ireland. However, there is some indication grey squirrel numbers are now falling and the reds are increasing. This is believed to be connected to the spread of pine martens, which prey selectively on the greys.

Squirrels don’t hibernate, though they become quite inactive when the weather is bad. At this time of year they store surplus food for the winter. Collections of seeds and nuts are buried and fungi are dried in tree branches.


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