Fuerteventura’s Invasive Squirrels
Urban Pest Control Directors Matt and Kelly recently took a well-deserved break to Morro Jable in the south of the beautiful Canary Island of Fuerteventura. While there, they came across an invasive species known to the island. They sent a photo to the technicians at Urban Pest Control HQ, which got everyone talking. Were these small rodents squirrels or chipmunks?
Well, we can reveal they are in fact Barbary ground squirrels. Although they do look like chipmunks due to their distinctive stripes, even the locals name them Fuerteventura chipmunks. The confusion was likely due to our familiarity with the UK’s invasive squirrel species and the differences between a tree squirrel and a ground squirrel. Grey squirrels have their distinctive bushy tails, whereas Barbary squirrels have small tails and only grow to a size of 12 inches. Tree squirrels, like the grey squirrel, are almost double the size at 20 inches. However, both species of squirrels have short fur and small rounded ears.
The Barbary ground squirrel is native to the western side of the Atlas Mountains in Morocco. However, they were introduced to the Canaries in 1965 by a person who had a couple as pets. When one of the duo escaped, the other one was set free into the wild. Within a few years, their numbers seemed to have multiplied.
The Fuerteventura Squirrels have adapted well to the island. They live in colonies in underground burrows, and the climate is similar to their native land. They have quickly figured out where the best place is to find food – tourists! Despite many signs urging people not to feed them, tourists can’t seem to resist their friendly nature. The local authority insists that these rodents are becoming pests by causing damage to native animals and plants due to their population. However, they cannot enforce the no-feeding rule yet. These pests have also been sighted on other islands within the Canary Islands. Signs have been put up, stating that they should not be carried to prevent their expansion to other areas. Despite the authorities’ views, these squirrels are very popular among visitors, and they have become very photogenic.
The species of squirrel known to us in Dorset, the grey squirrel, is already known as a pest due to the damage they cause to ancient woodland by stripping trees of bark and weakening the trunks and branches. They are also a threat to our native red squirrels, rapidly reducing their numbers since grey squirrels were introduced in the 1800s. Grey squirrels are expert climbers, so they do not restrict themselves to trees. They climb to enter buildings to search for nest materials, gnawing at wooden beams, stripping insulation, and chewing electrical wires. Hopefully, the Barbary ground squirrel does not cause such problems for the people of Fuerteventura.
Squirrels can cause a number of issues for both homeowners and businesses, for which professional squirrel removal is often necessary. If you require assistance for your squirrel problem within Poole, Bournemouth, Christchurch, Weymouth, Dorchester, and surrounding areas, do not hesitate to contact us.