Ireland is a relatively small island, yet many species that live here have limited distributions or are confined to specific sites. Studying species that have restricted distributions in Ireland tells us a great deal about the environmental and ecological conditions necessary for their survival, and can provide valuable insights into how factors such as climate and land use change is impacting on the environment. This is one reason why documenting and mapping species’ distributions is so important. Here are examples of 10 species that have curious distributions in Ireland.

 

Slow-worm

Slow-worm
The slow-worm (Anguis fragilis) is a legless lizard, snake-like in appearance, that can grow up to 50 cm in length.  Slow-worm are not native to Ireland, but populations have established at two sites in the north-east Burren, in counties Clare and Galway. They were first seen in the 1970s and the speculation is that they may have escaped having been imported initially as pets.  They hibernate for the winter months and become active from April to September. They are generally difficult to see, preferring to remain hidden under rocks, but occasionally they may be found basking in the sun.