Guess the animal!

Which animal is this?

While hiking on Fuerteventura we were able to see this fierce beast, waiting to pounce on its prey (full picture in the end of page).

This rather hostile looking creature was seen lurking around the sacred mountain of Tindaya

This rather hostile looking creature was seen lurking around the sacred mountain of Tindaya

Like many others, the animal on the picture has been introduced and is now considered a plague. The ecology of islands are especially vulnerable and the introduction of exotic species can be devastating for the native wildlife and Fuerteventura is no exception. It’s easy to get angry and curse them, but after all its not their fault but actually our own. Anyways, its difficult to be mad with them when they are such cute charismatic little fellows like the barbary ground squirrels, no?

Barbary ground squirrel (Atlantoxerus getulusin) Las Salinas, Fuerteventura.

Barbary ground squirrel (Atlantoxerus getulusin) Las Salinas, Fuerteventura.

Even though they are charming, we found them to be very misbehaved and to be without any manners whatsoever. They are completely fearless and climb people (often 5 at a time) and steal the food from your hand! Not so cute any more huh!

Brenda with squirrels in the crater of the volcano in Calderon hondo.

Brenda with squirrels inside the crater of Calderón hondo.

If Alfred Hitchcock would have visited Fuerteventura (post-squirrel introduction), I’m sure his famous movie “the birds” would rather have been titled “the squirrels” instead. They are a plague!

Alright so you want to see the rest of the clawed animal found in the top of the page? Here you have it!

The animal in its full glory!

The origins of the North African hedgehog (Atelerix algirus) is unknown, but its suspected to have been introduced by man on the islands.

The origins of the North African hedgehog (Atelerix algirus) is unknown, but its suspected to have been introduced by man on the islands.

  4 comments for “Guess the animal!

  1. Julia
    April 12, 2014 at 07:40

    Nice pics! Do you know why they introduced squirrels there? Was is on purpose?

    • July 26, 2014 at 23:22

      Thank you Julia! The barbary ground squirrels were first brought from North Africa to Fuerteventura in the sixties as pets, but as it turned out, they escaped and established a very strong population on the island.

      There was a woman (Marta López-Darias) doing a phD about the ecological effects of the introductions of squirrels to the island. She found that the squirrels were so successful on the island since they had much fewer predators and parasites there compared to in their natural habitat.

  2. April 15, 2014 at 13:17

    Does the hedgehog have any natural enemies? Why are they considered a plague? Do they eat bird’s eggs and such?

    • July 26, 2014 at 23:35

      The hedgehogs just like the squirrels were brought from North Africa and have much less enemies on the islands compared to in their native range. Except for the other invasive species on the islands like; cats, dogs and cars, they don’t have any other enemies. Their most negative effect can be that they eat birds eggs that they find on the ground. This is especially concerning since the endangered subspecies of Houbara bustard (Chlamydotis undulata fuertaventurae) lays its eggs on the ground.

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