Return Home
Wildlife in Ireland
Home > Wildlife in Ireland

About Ireland

Destination Guide

History of Ireland

Sport in Ireland

Weather in Ireland


Travel Info

Wildlife in Ireland

Route Guides

Festivals & Events

Activities Ireland

Site Map

About Us

Link To Us
Only 26 land mammal species are native to Ireland, because it was isolated from Europe by rising sea levels after the Ice Age. Some species, such as the red fox, hedgehog, and badger are very common, whereas others, like the Irish hare, red deer and pine marten are less so. Aquatic wild-life, such as species of turtle, shark, whale, and dolphin, are common off the coast. About 400 species of birds have been recorded in Ireland. Many of these are migratory, including the Barn Swallow. Most of Ireland's bird species come from Iceland, Greenland, Africa among other territories. There are no snakes in Ireland and only one reptile (the common lizard) is native to the country. Extinct species include the great Irish elk, the wolf, the great auk, and others. Some previously extinct birds, such as the Golden Eagle, have recently been reintroduced after decades of extirpation.

Agriculture drives current land use patterns in Ireland, limiting natural habitat preserves, particularly for larger wild mammals with greater territorial needs. With no top predator in Ireland, populations of animals (such as semi-wild deer) that cannot be controlled by smaller predators (such as the fox) are controlled by annual culling.


Phytogeographically, Ireland belongs to the Atlantic European province of the Circumboreal Region within the Boreal Kingdom. Until mediæval times Ireland was heavily forested with oak, pine, beech and birch. Forests now cover about 9% (4,450 km² or one million acres) of the land. Because of its mild climate, many species, including sub-tropical species such as palm trees, are grown in Ireland. Much of the land is now covered with pasture, and there are many species of wild-flower. Gorse (Ulex europaeus), a wild furze, is commonly found growing in the uplands, and ferns are plentiful in the more moist regions, especially in the western parts of Ireland. It is home to hundreds of plant species, some of them unique to the island. The country has been invaded by some grasses, such as Spartina anglica.

The algal and seaweed flora is that of the cold-temperate. The total number of species is: 264 Rhodophyta; 152 Heterokontophyta; 114 Chloropyta; and 31 Cyanophyta, giving a total of 574. Rarer species include: Itonoa marginifera (J.Ag.) Masuda & Guiry); Schmitzia hiscockiana Maggs and Guiry; Gelidiella calcicola Maggs & Guiry; Gelidium maggsiae Rico & Guiry and Halymenia latifolia P.Crouan & H.Crouan ex Kützing. The country has been invaded by some algae, some of which are now well established: Asparagopsis armara Harvey – which originated in Australia and was first recorded by M. De Valera in 1939; Colpomenia peregrina Sauvageau – now locally abundant and first recorded in the 1930s; Sargassum muticum (Yendo) Fensholt – now well established in a number of localities on the south, west, and north-east coasts; Codium fragile ssp. fragile (formerly reported as ssp. tomentosum) – now well established. Codium fragile ssp. atlanticum has recently been established to be native, although for many years it was regarded as an alien species.
   copyright 2009 - Designed by, Waterford City, Ireland
Terms and Conditions, Privacy Statement, Disclaimer, Site Map