Ireland is known for many things; our culture, our music, our history and our beautiful landscapes. However one thing we cannot claim to be well known for, is our herpetological diversity. With only four native species, it’s easy to overlook our herpetofauna in the shadow of our more diverse avifauna and flora. Nonetheless, reptiles and amphibians still hold an important place in our folklore and heritage. Perhaps one of the most famous myths associated with Ireland is that of St. Patrick “ridding” the island of snakes, while one of our most unique and valuable heritage sites is the Tetrapod Trackway of Valentia Island.
Ireland’s apparent dearth of cold blooded fauna is somewhat misleading. Our shores are regularly graced by migratory reptiles such as leatherback turtles, and the introduction of a handful of non-native species (while worrying) does provide the interested herpetologist with additional topics of study. The rise of herpetoculture as a hobby means there is no longer a shortage of snakes in the Emerald Isle, and this very rewarding hobby has helped spawn a generation of talented, homegrown herpetologists.
The apparent lack of herpetological diversity by no means diminishes the importance of the few species we do have. Each is an important part of Ireland’s natural heritage, and their importance as components of their respective habitats cannot be stressed enough. To learn more about each of these fascinating creatures, simply follow the links below: