Munster Squirrel Survey – How can you help

by admin on 02/02/2011

This year it has been 100 years since the grey squirrel was introduced to Ireland. In 1911 a gift of six breeding pairs of grey squirrels was released in County Longford. Grey squirrels have been regarded as pests in Ireland since they were introduced and the spread of these squirrels has been closely monitored by wildlife enthusiasts, hunters, foresters and scientists for the last century.

Today the grey squirrel is threatening the survival of the native red squirrel in many parts of Ireland. The red and grey squirrels compete for the same food sources of tree seeds, nuts, and pine cones. The grey squirrel is larger than the red squirrel – it can be up to twice the weight. In areas where both squirrels are present, grey squirrels tend to out-compete the red squirrels by eating the same food that the red squirrels rely on.  Often red squirrels disappear from an area within a decade or two of grey squirrels arriving.

Since its introduction the grey squirrel has spread north, east and south. There are two counties, Meath and Westmeath, where the red squirrel is now extinct and three more, Louth, Carlow and Kilkenny, where it is very rare. In Munster we now have a chance to study the range expansion of the grey squirrel in detail as it moves south through Limerick, Tipperary and Waterford into Cork and Kerry. It is important to learn how far south grey squirrels have traveled since the last squirrel survey in 2007 and to predict where red and grey squirrels will be in the future. Such information will be of great use to foresters, who suffer from tree damage caused by the grey squirrel, as well as helping to protect the native red squirrel.

We at the Munster Squirrel Survey would be grateful for readers to report sightings of both red and grey squirrels (live or dead) to us so that we may update our maps. It is often the case that the local knowledge of people is among the most valuable for ecologists undertaking a species mapping project.

There are two ways to report your squirrel sightings:

1)      Go to and fill in the quick online survey.

2)      Call Emily at University College Cork on either 021 4901944 or 087 1735115.

In each case please be ready to accurately describe the location of the sighting so that it can be pinpointed on a map.

Thank you for your interest,

Emily Goldstein
University College Cork,
Environmental Research Institute,
Lee Road,

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

1 kevin March 13, 2018 at 9:49 pm

saw red squirrel in woodland near glenmore stores on rd to Knockraha


2 Sophie O'Sullivan August 12, 2016 at 3:56 pm

Spotted a small long tailed red mammal … Not long and thin like a weasel but about the same size on the coast road near Ahakista on the Sheepshead West Cork not far from pine trees.


3 Cecily Lyons June 9, 2016 at 7:02 pm

Spotted a Red squirrel running along the road and hopped into our place, which we planted up in mixed trees about 15 years ago. Its my first time seeing one here – nearest ones that I’ve seen are 5km away.


4 M Hurley September 16, 2015 at 11:30 am

I live in Ballinhassig Cork and just saw one today crossing the L7200 road near Halfway Roundabout. Amazing…..


5 amanda March 16, 2015 at 3:37 pm

Saw on several occassions red squirrels in cork, cannot go into the link above to tell email you exactly where it was. Please email and i will tell you where they were thank you


6 Rhona August 10, 2014 at 4:55 pm

Red squirrel in my garden in Tivoli. Second sighting. Last was in winter at my bird feeder.


7 Jerry July 26, 2014 at 12:41 am

I live 2 miles from Ballincollig and saw my first red squirrel this week close to my house. Amazing!!


8 A.Mockler February 22, 2014 at 9:24 pm

I saw a red squirrel last Sunday
morning Feb 16th 2014. Cork Area.
After driving through the tunnel and
heading up the Dublin road, the Red
Squirrel ran across the road in front
of the car!
Fantastic to see it!


9 Mary Radford February 1, 2014 at 10:55 am

I live in The Glen of Aherlow, Ballinacourty,, Co Tipp. The red squirrel is a regular visitor to our garden, passing through from a small plantation of conifer trees and the larger woodland nearby. I have seen the red squirrel many times in the last 4 months, The last sighting 2 days ago, and 7 days ago 2 squirrels were returning to the plantation together . I hope this information is helpful towards your survey.


10 O McCarthy November 25, 2012 at 9:51 pm

I keep meeting the same little red squirrel, crossing the country road where I live. I’ve seen him a few times now. Cork.


11 Bob Hilscher November 19, 2012 at 2:10 pm

Hi there. I live in Toronto, Canada, and earlier this year, my wife, Jean, and I were in Ireland where we came upon the rarely seen Red Squirrel. They actually look somewhat like our Canadian Red Squirrels, but boy, do they have long ears! We were shocked to learn that Ireland’s Red squirrels are contracting the pox virus from Grey Squirrels, and dying. We feel very lucky to have seen two Red squirrels in Ireland. We have posted some of our pictures and video for anyone interested at:


12 R O'Leary September 21, 2012 at 9:35 am

A week ago we saw a red squirrel in the trees in our garden and again this morning we saw two in in the same group of trees, leading us to believe there is a family and perhaps they are breeding. We live in Kelleher’s Wood in Crosshaven, Co Cork.


13 Kathleen Carey January 19, 2012 at 7:12 pm

Sorry to hear of that awful disease affecting the beautiful Red Squirrel.
I live in Cork City and I always remember seeing one as a child in my home place of Farnanes, (near Crookstown) Co. Cork. Farnanes is a very wooded area and we lived at the edge of a very old wood (Ryecourt). That was 40 years ago and I have never seen or heard of one there since.
Hope something can be done to save these beautiful indigenous creatures.


14 B. G. Robbins September 11, 2011 at 8:15 pm

Spotted a red squirrel running along a main road in Offaly. It was the Ferbane road two miles from the village of Ballllycumber in Offaly. It was small possibly last years . I know it is Leinster but can’t seem to find site for same


15 Pallaskenry N. S. February 16, 2011 at 1:35 pm

We have seen a live red squirrel in our school garden. We have also seen a dead red squirrel on the street.


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