There is no such thing as a ‘wild’ cat in Ireland. All cats in Ireland can trace their roots to a domestic or human controlled situation. The closest real ‘wild’ cats are in Scotland, and these are protected.
Cats that have been abandoned, or are being ignored to the point of abandonment, by their owners.
Cats that have no dealings with humans, they do not want to interact with people and will actively avoid contact. The role (feral) cats play in the destruction of habitats for wildlife and particularly birds is minimal. According to the Irish Wildlife Trust, people cause 80% of the fragmentation of habitats.
Cats that understand people are a source of food and shelter. They will seek out these resources and use them, but will not ask for close contact or physical interaction. Often these cats live in colonies on or near a property. This group is usually the ‘problem’ described in the media. Often a sympathetic human starts feeding (one) stray domestic or abandoned cat(s) and when improved feline health allows, breeding begins. The fact that only one cat is seen, doesn’t mean others are not around! And one unneutered female can be responsible for up to 30 kittens a year.
Cats that will actively seek out human company. These are usually the cats that will be taken in to a home (adopted) or has a chance to be rehomed if the human has pets already. These cats are mostly abandoned pets when humans move away or that are dumped when unneutered domestic cats have unwanted kittens.
Obviously some cats can be ‘in between’ categories due to fear, stress and illness. Certain behaviours may be provoked that move cats between groups.
Sorry, I know nothing about snakes, except that they frighten the living daylights out of me!.
Sorry, I know nothing about spiders.
Sorry, I know nothing about tortoises, except that they are escape artists.
Hedgehogs search for food from dusk and into the night. This means that if you find one during the day it may well be sick or injured. If it does not uncurl if unthreatened or is lying on its side, be very careful handling it as it is most likely unwell. Take the hedgehog to a vet for a quick check up Irish Wildlife Matters.
Hedgehogs make useful additions to our gardens as they prey on some of the most common garden pests. It is worth taking responsibility for an injured or sick hedgehog. It will reward you with less slugs and pests in your (vegetable) garden next year. Fun Fact: Hedgehogs root through hedges and undergrowth searching for insects, worms, snails and mice. They grunt while searching for food in the hedges, hence the name HEDGE-HOG.
Sorry, I know nothing about swans either.
Sorry, I know nothing about signets.
A quarter of all land mammals in Ireland are bats, but not many people get to see a live one. Bats are good animals to have around, because they eat insects in huge quantities, including pests. Bats do not damage timber or electrical cables, and their pooh dries to a harmless powder. There are several colourful myths about bats, such as that they are blind (“As blind as a Bat”). Bats don’t have colour vision, but they do use their eyesight to recognise landmarks in their surroundings, and to distinguish changes in light intensity. “Bats have radar”… well actually, they have sonar! This is an echo-location system based. By listening to how sound echoes, bats find insects to eat, and can avoid obstacles. That is why “Bats and human hair” is also a myth and probably the most common one. Bats become entangled in women’s hair, but that is the result of them chasing the insects that follow people in swarms at dusk!
Last ‘sorry’, I know nothing about whales.