There are over 50 mammal species found in the wild in Ireland including the whales and dolphins that are resident off our shores. Some of these are native, such as the badger, hedgehog and red squirrel, while others, such as the mink, grey squirrel and sika deer, have deliberately or inadvertently been introduced by humans over the last few hundred years.
- Land Mammals found in Ireland include Hedgehog, Pine marten, Red Squirrel, Grey Squirrel, Pygmy Shrew, Brown long-eared bat – one of ten species of bat, Wood Mouse, Bank Vole, House Mouse, Black Rat, Brown Rat, Rabbit, Irish mountain hare, Brown hare, Otter, Badger, Red fox, Stoat, American mink, Red deer, Fallow deer, Sika deer, Feral goat.
- Marine mammals that can be found off the coast of Ireland include Grey seal, Harbour/common seal, Bottlenose dolphin, Short-beaked common dolphin, Harbour porpoise, Killer whale, Minke whale, Humpback whale
There are many research projects being run by the NPWS on animals, such as the red squirrel, otter and hare – view these projects via NPWS.
Approximately 12,000 years ago, as the Ice Age ended and the glaciers began to recede, Ireland was joined to the rest of Europe by land bridges. It was across these landbridges that the trees and flowering plants that make up the native Irish flora migrated. Without human intervention, Ireland would now be completely covered in woodland. The biodiversity of Irish flora is significantly lower than elsewhere in western Europe due to Ireland’s small size our island status and our position at the edge of Europe. Today, it is estimated that there are 1228 flowering plants native to Ireland, 759 mosses & liverworts, 3500 fungi and 1050 lichen
Rare and endangered plants are protected in Ireland by the Flora Protection Order 1999 (S.I. No. 94 of 1999) There are currently 69 flowering plants on the Floral Protection Order, along with 14 mosses and a number of liverworts, lichens and stoneworts. Plants such as the Killarney Fern, the Kerry Lily and the Yellow Marsh Saxifrage are included in this list.
There are many interesting research projects being run on plants in Ireland for more information please visit our NPWS plant species research site.
Invertebrates are animals without backbones and this group includes spiders, snails, crustaceans (crabs, lobsters, prawns, shrimp), and insects (flies, beetles, bees, butterflies etc). More than 95% of the Earth’s animal species are invertebrates and in Ireland, there are about 12,000 varieties.
Eight invertebrates are protected by the EU Habitats Directive 92/43/EEC as implemented in Ireland by the European Communities (Natural Habitats) Regulations, 1997 (S.I. No. 94 of 1997). Learn more.
Extinct & Protected Species
Over the years, many of our native species have become extinct due to human impacts on their habitats, while certain species today have been afforded protection under The EU Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC) and the The Wildlife Acts 1976 & 2000 to prevent their extinction. Learn more.