Animals Blog

Squirrel Appreciation Day -Sunday 21st January 2018

Squirrel Appreciation Day -Sunday 21st January 2018

Fota Wildlife Park is home to many native species as well as the more exotic animal species–one of which is the Red squirrel which is abundant in the Wildlife Park and is also easily spotted at this time of year. The Red squirrel is dependent on woodland as a habitat -so Fota is a perfect setting for this native animal. This species has been present in Ireland since the ice ages and they are widespread throughout the island, however, there has been a 20% decline in their range since the Grey squirrel arrived from North America (1911 to Co Longford). 

Red squirrels are distinguished from their Grey counterparts by their smaller size, their long ear tufts and red-brown fur colour – particularly their distinctive bushy red tail.

Although the Red squirrels are more elusive than the less-shy Grey Squirrel, they are relatively easy to spot while out and about in Fota Wildlife Park. This is a particularly good time of the year to see them as their breeding season usually commences in January or February with the males chasing the females. If there are plenty of seeds in the crop from the previous Autumn then the mating season can start relatively early and may even produce a second litter in early summer. The female gives birth after a gestation period of five to six weeks with three kittens as they are called being the usual litter size. The kittens are weaned after seven to ten weeks after birth.

Red Squirrels usually forage on tree seeds but can also eat fungi, fruit and buds.

The Red Squirrel is protected under the Wildlife Act and the Bern Convention.