Irish Animals with Connemara National Park

Carole from Connemara National Park introduced us to a selection of native Irish animals.

It was SUCH an interesting talk, and we absolutely loved seeing and touching the animals.  Each of the animals used to be alive but died on a road, was stuffed and put on display.  They all have glass eyes but their teeth, skin, fur etc. are all real.

Here are some interesting things we learned.

The Irish mountain hare is a herbivore (eats only plants, vegetables, grass etc) and has eyes on the side of its head so that he doesn’t need to turn his head if he wants to watch out for preditors.

The Stoat can be various different colours but always has a black tip on his tail.  The stoat is very fast, loves stone walls, eats rats, mice rabbits and the bark of trees.

The Hedgehog is the only mammal that can roll into a ball. It is still prickly when dead. It hibernates in the winter because snails, slugs, beetles and earwigs are not found in winter.   The hedgehog is an insectavore.  If you have a hedgehog in your garden you should leave out water (but not milk) and possibly dog or cat food.

The Red Squirrel has a tail that is the same length as its body so it has very good balance.  It has long nails. It likes to eat nuts, berries and especially pine cone seeds.  It doesn’t hibernate but it does sleep a lot in the winter.

The Mink is a carnivore. It lives near water. It loves to eat birds and their eggs. It is nocturnal. It is not afraid of humans. It will kill chickens if it can. Mink fur used to be used in fur coats but is not often used for this now.

The Pine martin is shy. It lives in the woods and often in trees. It is a carnivore. It eats mice, birds, berries and apples.

The Fox is really a wild dog, though it screeches rather than barks at night and early in the morning. We have no wolves, dingoes or even a coyote in Ireland. Foxes are clever.  They live both in town and in the country. They often find food from dustbins but they also eat mice, chickens, hares and lambs. Their tails are called brushes.

The Otter is a big Irish animal. When measured from the tip of his nose to its tail he is even bigger than a fox.  It is a fast swimmer and has webbed feet. It eats fish, frogs, crabs, lobsters and shellfish. It can crack open shells with its teeth and then pick out the meat using its nails. It has tiny ears so water doesn’t get in its ears when it is swimming.

The Badger has a black and white stripy face. It has long nails. It lives in an underground sett with other badgers. It has nails for digging for worms to eat. It also likes to eat mice, frogs, potato skins, carrot tops and cabbages.

Many thanks Carole for such a wonderful chance to get to see some of our native animals.