A Grey squirrel cheekily looks down from its perch in the woods at Tintern. This rodent, which is almost twice the size and weight of its cousin the Red squirrel, was introduced into Ireland in 1911. It was at a wedding party in Castle Forbes, County Longford that this novelty ‘gift’ escaped into the wild and is now regarded an invasive pest.
All wild animals deserve to live in their natural habitat but the Grey is pushing the Red out of its rightful home, which it has been since the last Ice age! It doesn’t physically harm the Red but it competes for food more aggressively and to make matters worse, it carries the Parapox virus which doesn’t harm itself but kills the Red in a matter of days (similar to myxomatosis in Rabbits). Also of concern, the Reds typically lasts no longer than 20 years in a habitat where the Greys have set up home. They are now present in 20 counties and spreading faster than ever before.