Fox squirrel

Sciurus niger



  • Photo credit: ©Jason Quinn

  • Sciurus niger   

  • Common Names: Fox squirrel

  • Habitat: Deciduous and mixed forest with open understoreys, as well as wood riparian zones.

  • Description: The fox squirrel is a relatively large reddish-brown squirrel with a long, bushy tail native to North America.

  • Origin and Worldwide Distribution: The fox squirrel is native to North America. Until recently, it was imported to Europe for the pet trade. It has not yet established itself in the wild.

  • Potential or Known Impacts: It has not yet established itself in the wild. There is a strong likelihood that the species will become invasive if it were to escape into the wild, as the conditions in many European countries are similar to those in its native home range. As other invasive squirrels, it could outcompete the native red squirrel and pass on diseases and parasites to which the native fauna is not resistant.

  • How did it/could it get here? Imported for the pet trade and escaped or released individuals becoming established.
  • Is it found in Ireland or Northern Ireland? Not present in Ireland or Northern Ireland.
Static Distribution Map as of December 2019 - Courtesy of CEDaR

  • Methods for Prevention:
    The import of this species has already been banned through the EU Wildlife Trade Regulation, but placing it on the Union list will further prevent the invasion by prohibiting its sales, phasing out its keeping and requiring a rapid eradication of any newly observed population.

  • Current Legislative Position (Listed on 03 August 2016)
    This species must not intentionally be brought into the Union; kept; bred; transported to, from or within the United Kingdom, unless for the transportation to facilities in the context of eradication; placed on the market; used or exchanged; permitted to reproduce, grown or cultivated; or released into the environment.
    For further queries, you can contact the Non Native Invasive Species Team in the Northern Ireland Environment Agency on 028 9056 9558.
Invasive Species Ireland

Invasive Species Ireland