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The Burren: Burren Wildlife

A variety of land and aquatic mammals live in the Burren. One of the most common mammals is the Irish Hare (Lepus timidus h.) which is found all over the Burren. The rabbit, (Oryctolagus cuniculus), on the other hand, is not as widespread and is mainly found in the sand dunes at Fanore and the Rine. Some smaller land mammals like the pigmy shrew (Sorex minutes) and hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) are quite common.

Feral Goats
Feral Goats

Herds of feral goats (Capra hircus) may be seen wandering all over the Burren. Though not wild in the true sense, they have descended from domesticated goates which have been allowed to go wild. Alarm has often been expressed at the number of these animals lest they should overcrop the plants. Actually the reverse is true as they tend to keep their grazing activities to the scrubland, and thus keep down the ever invasive hazel scrub, and so form an important part of the ecological balance.

All seven Irish species of bats have been found in the Burren. The largest of these - Leisler's bat (Nyctalus leisleri) - has significant roost-sites in the Burren and the lesser horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus hipposideros) uses the caves and souterrains of the area as hibernation sites.


The fox (Vulpes v.) is quite common and is often sighted, as is the badger (Meles m.), - common but less seen due to its nocturnal habits. The beautiful pine marten (Martes m.) is also seldom seen for the same reason. A close relation, the stoat (Mustela ermina h.) is common and more frequently spotted. Otters (Lutra l.) are less common and confined to the lake system of the eastern boundary and the coast. The rodents of the Burren are rats and house and field mice and the red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) which is found in the many conifer plantations around the edge of the Burren.

Dolphins (Delphinidae) and porpoises (Phocoena p.) have been spotted regularly off the coast and to a lesser extent, whales have been seen and occasionally stranded on the rocks. The common seal (Phoca vitulina) and the grey seal (Halichoerus grypus) are also found along the coastline. The common seal has traditional pupping sites on islands in Galway Bay while grey seals visit the Burren coastline from their pupping colonies on the Connemara coast.

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