What’s on Fuerteventura – Chipmunks – Do Not Feed
Do Not feed these Animals
DO NOT FEED THE SQUIRRELS
Chipmunks!!! – First of all these cute little creatures are not Chipmunks, they are Barbary Ground Squirrels (BGS) native to the mountains of Morocco, they are an invasive species and classed as pests and vermin.
In 1965 someone brought a pair of Barbary Ground Squirrels (BGS) to Fuerteventura as pets. After the female escaped he decided to release the male and now there are estimated to be over 1 million of them on the island.
Now this is a huge problem, as they do not have any natural predators on the island, and they are competing for the same resources, as Fuerteventura’s native species and winning, driving the local animals out of their natural habitats and in some instances to extinction.
They also raid birds nests eating the eggs and killing the chicks thus endangering some of the rare birds that choose Fuerteventura as a breeding site.
It is not only the native animals that they are endangering they are causing massive damage to local agriculture, as their numbers have become so great in some parts of the island that they are destroying the crops in the fields.
Tourists just think they are cute and want to take photographs of them eating out of their hands, but they don’t realise the danger these animals pose. They are known to bite and can transmit many diseases such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever, rat bite fever, tularemia, Chagas’ disease, adiaspiromycosis, and encephalomyocarditis. Notably, they also serve as reservoirs for sylvatic (bubonic) plague.
There is one other big problem associated with the BGS, in areas where the tourists are feeding them, there has been a huge increase in the rat population taking advantage of the easy food.
The Government is quite rightly concerned about the damage to the local environment caused by this invasive species and are trying to stop the spread of these animals to other islands and to areas so far unaffected.
The Government have been erecting signs all over the island at known “Chipmunk” areas warning people not to feed the BGSs, and some of the local authorities have introduced fine of up to 1,000€s to offenders.
So they are cute – yes, but dangerous to people and the environment –
But never feed these animals.
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