Ireland has stunning natural scenery, thousands of castles, and a distinct culture, but it also boasts diverse wildlife. The fauna of Ireland is diverse, ranging from small and cuddly to breathtaking and elusive.
Ireland is home to several remarkable species, ranging from one of the world’s fastest birds to one of the largest mammals.
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12 Animals That Are Native To Ireland
Here are the 12 animals that are native to Ireland.
1. Red Deer
The Emerald Isle is home to the enormous red deer. Known as Ireland’s largest land animal and the only extant species of deer designated “native” to the country, the red deer is thought to have been present in Ireland for at least 12,000 years.
2. Red Fox
The red fox is one of Ireland’s most famous native animals.
The largest of all foxes, the red fox is one of Ireland’s most fascinating animal species—and a stunning sight to behold in the country’s woodlands. They’ve even been spotted in cities, demonstrating their adaptability.
However, given the extent to which this distinctive animal has been hunted by people in the past, red foxes tend to remain out of the way of humans.
3. Irish Hare
The only lagomorph native to Ireland is the Irish hare. They are one of the island’s oldest species, an elusive creature that prefers to graze in wooded places. The hare, which is much larger than its rabbit cousin, has existed for over two million years.
According to the Hare Preservation Trust, the species escaped the last ice age by seeking sanctuary in the south of Ireland’s tundra-like environment.
Irish hares are now well-known for their predatory boxing moves, which they show as part of their mating rituals in early spring.
4. Irish Setter
Irish setters are a high-spirited breed with a vivid red coat that is noted for its grace, speed, and agility. They’re known for being great family dogs, with gentle temperaments for the adults, while they are boisterous playmates and tennis-ball retrievers for the kids.
Records demonstrate that they didn’t always wear a russet-red coat, despite their reputation.
Around 400 years ago, the breed was initially red and white to help hunters find them in their fields. Selective breeding techniques resulted in solid red coloring. It wasn’t until the late 1800s that the breed became popular as we know it today.
5. Basking Shark
The basking shark is a filter feeder, which may be observed off the coast of Ireland. It is the second-largest fish in the world, with an average length of 5–7 meters.
The basking shark is an endangered species in the North Atlantic, according to the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature). The Irish Basking Shark Project is worth a look.
If you happen to see one of these incredible sharks, you may log your sighting on their website to help increase awareness.
6. Galway Sheep
The Galway sheep is a domestic sheep breed that originated in western Ireland. Since the late 1970s, this breed of sheep has been grazing the fields of the west.
They’re a huge white-faced polled sheep with a distinctive bob of wool on the head and wool on the legs. Dark marks on the ears and dark spots on the outer lips are typical.
In pedigree flocks, the average litter size is 1.45. While the majority of ewes in the breed weigh 80–85 kg and have a litter size of 1.3, there is a wide range of weights and litter sizes.
7. Connemara Pony
These magnificent creatures are renowned for their gentle demeanor and ability to create great ties with their owners.
Connemara ponies are the largest breed of pony, standing between 12.2 and 14.2 hands tall (in equine size).
Connemara ponies are also noted for their athleticism, versatility, and pleasant temperament. Show ponies of this breed are exceptional.
8. Pygmy Shrew
The little pygmy shrew is Ireland’s tiniest animal, reaching between 4.5 and 6cm in length. Although these critters are sometimes mistaken for mice, they can be differentiated by their smaller body size, velvet-like fur, and slightly furred tail.
Although they are rare in forests, they can be found in grasslands, heaths, and peatlands all around the Emerald Isle.
9. Peregrine Falcon
Peregrine falcons are the world’s fastest birds, and there are a lot of them across Ireland. Peregrines hunt pigeons, waders, and wildfowl at speeds of up to 240 kilometers per hour.
During the winter, estuaries are an excellent site to look for them, but they can also be found in places like Glendalough.
10. The Viviparous Lizard
Whether or not you think the legend that Saint Patrick drove snakes out of Ireland is genuine, you won’t find any slithering serpents here. The viviparous lizard, Ireland’s only lizard, is the closest thing you’ll find.
This small reptile with a lengthy tail has the potential to regrow its tail if it is ever ripped off by predators.
The viviparous lizard, sometimes known as the common lizard, can be found throughout Ireland in a variety of habitats. They prefer south-facing moist, tussocky grassland and locations like dunes (think of Bull Island in Dublin) and woodland paths (such as Glendalough).
11. Daubenton’s Bat
Ireland has nine bat species but the most distinct of them all is the Daubenton’ bat. These bats are commonly seen flying low over the surface of the water in Ireland, such as canals and lakes.
The Daubenton’s bats are small to medium in size. On the back, their fluffy fur is brownish-grey, while on the bottom, it’s silvery-grey. While it prefers to catch prey with its mouth, like midges, it may also take prey with its feet.
12. Glen of Imaal Terrier
The Glen of Imaal Terrier is a robust, independent canine breed named after an isolated valley in Ireland’s Wicklow Mountains.
When Flemish mercenary soldiers arrived in the valley in the 1570s, their dogs mated with the local Irish dogs, resulting in this breed.
The Glen of Imaal Terrier is a clever and cunning hunter that was bred to hunt foxes and badgers to keep households free of pests. They’re also known to be caring and affectionate family dogs.
Hi, I’m Christine – a full-time traveler and career woman. Although I’m from the Philippines, my location independent career took me to over 40 countries for the past 8 years. I also lived in 3 continents – from the Caribbean, South East Asia to Africa. But despite living in several countries, my love for Ireland remains the same. A country that had been a part of my life since I was 14 because of my love for Irish music and bands. Ireland Travel Guides was born because of this passion and hopefully, in some little ways, this website will be able to help you on your next trip to Ireland.