The red squirrel, Sciurus vulgaris, is one of our most popular and well-loved mammals. Mount Stewart is one of the best places in Northern Ireland to spot them.
While we can't guarantee a sighting, you're most likely to encounter them early in the morning or late afternoon, behind the house and to the north of the lake.
The red squirrel was once abundant in Ireland but has drastically reduced in numbers and distribution over the last 50 years. Habitat loss and fragmentation contributed to its decline but the biggest threat is the grey squirrel.
The grey squirrel came from North America. It was introduced to Ireland from England to Castle Forbes, County Longford in 1911. Since then, grey squirrels spread and are now established throughout Ireland. Grey squirrels are bigger than native red squirrels. They compete for the same food and habitat, and can spread disease.
Protecting the red squirrel
We must remain vigilant in order to protect the long-term future of our red squirrel population. The red squirrel is protected by law and is a priority species for special protection in Northern Ireland. The National Trust is an active member of the Northern Ireland Red Squirrel Forum
and Mount Stewart is a Red Squirrel Sanctuary.