During July and August we are encouraging you to get outside in Fermanagh and discover a local species! This week, we are encouraging you to keep an eye out for some native mammal species.
Fermanagh is lucky to have a growing population of red squirrels, which are an endangered species. Red squirrels are distinctive by their ‘flashy’ red colouring and long tail, but also have an important role in regenerating our woodlands, burying nuts and seeds which grow into future trees.
Once a dominant species across Ireland, red squirrels populations are under threat from habitat reduction and from the invasive non-native grey squirrel which was introduced from North America by the Victorians. Competition from the more robust grey squirrel for food and shelter, and infection by the deadly squirrel pox virus – which greys transmit to reds – have all caused red squirrel numbers to decline.
Where to see red squirrels?
Sightings of red squirrels can be reported to CEDAR using the following link http://www2.habitas.org.uk/records/squirrelssquirrel-form and as always, share any photos you might be lucky enough to capture.
You can encourage squirrels into your garden by creating a squirrel box, check this pdf for instructions on how to!
Pine Martens are very elusive, nocturnal mammals, commonly found in woodland habitats. They have a distinctive white or yellow bib on their chest, which is unique to each Pine Marten. Pine Martens feed on small rodents, birds, eggs, insects and fruit, and can also become pests in their attraction to household waste and bins.
A recent study by Sheehy and Lawton (2014) suggested that a healthy population of pine martens lead to an increase in red squirrels, as pine martens remove the abundance of grey squirrels from habitats.
For more information about Pine Marten’s visit https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/wildlife-explorer/mammals/pine-marten
Hedgehogs are easy to identify with their cone faced shapes and prickly bodies, which they can roll into a tight ball. They are nocturnal and live in burrows or nests. They are solitary creatures, who can sleep for up to 18 hours per day! Their diet consists of fruit, fungi, insects, snails, worms, mice, frogs, eggs and roots and vegetation.
Hedgehog populations have drastically declined since the 1950s, due to an increase in road traffic, habitat loss and agricultural intensification. Hedgehogs are now classed as Vulnerable to Extinction in Britain, and the species is data deficient. To help combat this, Ulster Wildlife have teamed up with NUI Galway to undertake an Irish Hedgehog Survey.
Check out their website for more info: https://www.ulsterwildlife.org/hedgehogs
You can make your garden more hedgehog friendly, click here for more info!