There is an abundance of terrestrial mammals to be found throughout Glenveagh.
One of Glenveagh’s most notable, and indeed largest animal is the Red deer (Cervus elaphus). While Red deer are native to Ireland, the Glenveagh herd were supplemented in the 17th century by introduced stock from Scotland. This herd, which historically has been enclosed by the deer fence that is still visible along the original boundary of the estate, remains completely wild and as with most wild animals can be difficult to approach. While the deer can be found in nearly all areas of Glenveagh, the majority are to be found in the upland areas of the park. The best time for watching Red deer is during the mating season or ‘rut’ which takes place each year between mid-September and mid-November.
Please keep an eye out on our upcoming events page for our ‘Rut Walks’. This guided walk by park staff provides the perfect opportunity to hear the distinctive call of the stags during the rut season.
The upland regions of Glenveagh are also home to the Irish hare (Lepus timidus hibernicus). This hardy mammal can survive on a diet of mountain grasses and sedges, though it also occurs on lower ground. It is a race of arctic mountain hare, but unlike the race found in Scotland, its coat seldom turns white in winter.
Several species of Bat are to be found in Glenveagh. Emerging from hibernation by spring, they often roost in old buildings and the woodlands in Glenveagh, making the most of insect prey which becomes abundant on warm nights.
Common & Soprano Pipistrelle
The Common Pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pipistrellus) and the Soprano Pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pygmaeus) are Ireland’s two smallest bat species, weighing no more than around 5 grams. They feed largely on mosquitos, small moths and midges, and can consume approximately 3,000 insects per night. Pipistrelles regularly roost in both the Visitor’s Centre and the Castle in Glenveagh, preferring to occupy confined spaces such as behind hanging tiles and soffit boards or between roofing felt and roof tiles, rather than the main attic space.
While a number of bat species feed over lakes and rivers, none has such a close association with water as the Daubenton’s bat (Myotis daubentonii) or ‘water bat’. This species is easily recognisable by its low, level flight above the surface of slow-moving rivers and lakes searching for caddisflies, mayflies and midges, and may even scoop prey from the water surface using its big feet. Daubenton’s bats roost under stone bridges, in ruins, canal tunnels, trees and damp caves.
The Leisler’s bat (Nyctalus leisleri) is Ireland’s largest bat species and can be found roosting in both the buildings and woodland areas of Glenveagh. It is one of the first bats to emerge at night and can be observed soon after sunset flying over open spaces such as parks and fields. The Leisler’s bat is distinguishable by its flight altitude, it is found flying at much greater heights than the other Irish species, from where it can ‘dive’ on its prey (usually midges, craneflies, or beetles).
Bat nights have become a regular (and popular) feature of the summer calendar in Glenveagh. A brief presentation is followed by a short, guided night-time walk with bat detectors. Please see our upcoming events page for further details. Further information on the bats of Glenveagh is available for download here.
Otters (Lutra lutra), while being a largely secretive species, can be found in the main valley of Glenveagh. They have been regularly observed in rivers both above and below lough Veagh.
Badgers (Meles meles) and foxes (Vulpes vulpes) are important predators in the Glenveagh ecosystem, while sightings can be elusive, both can be observed in the woodlands and on the open heath. Both species are opportunistic hunters and will take a wide variety of foods ranging from worms in the spring to blackberries in the autumn. Glenveagh is also home to stoats (Mustela erminea hibernica) and pine martins (Martes martes), rarely seen but often captured on wildlife cameras by staff.