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Wicklow Mountains National Park
Red Squirrel

Red Squirrel, Iora Rua, Sciurus vulgaris

Red Squirrels are still to be found in the Park. Across Ireland their population is declining and they have disappeared from many areas. The Red Squirrel is Ireland's native squirrel. The introduced Grey Squirrel is causing the decline of the Red by out-competing the native squirrel for food resources. The Grey is spreading across the country and in the long term is threatening the Red with extinction in Ireland.

This is not the first time the Red Squirrel has faced extinction in Ireland. In fact it has gone extinct twice before. The current population was re-introduced from Britain in the 19th century.

Contrary to what most people think, Red Squirrels do not hibernate. They spend 70% of their time looking for food, mostly high in the treetops. They also hoard food in locations on the ground. They have been known to hoard up to 2000 items, many of which they forget about. As a result they are an important factor in seed dispersal.

It seems that they do best in large tracts of coniferous forest. In deciduous woodland there is greater competition from the Grey Squirrels. There is still a strong population of Red Squirrels in Glendalough but Greys have recently been sighted in Glendalough for the first time.