Stories of people & places, festivities & traditions from my travels around the world
Fuerteventura's Barbary Ground Squirrels
by Lucy Hornberger
Fuerteventura's Barbary Ground Squirrels (ardilla moruna) are a big hit with visitors and tourists. On the island's high passes and lookout points, especially the Mirador Risco de las Peñas between Pájara and Betancuria, the appealing rodents get at least as much attention as the impressive volcanic landscape.
As long as the weather isn't too extreme, you're likely to find them out and about, scampering over the rocky ground, tussling with each other, diving in and out of their burrows and even - momentarily and involuntarily - posing for photos as they check out visitors for snacks.
Closely spaced signs urge people not to feed the squirrels. They are native to North Africa (introduced to the Canary Islands in the 1960s) and unfortunately are unwelcome immigrants due to the damage they do to the native Canarian flora. Happily for the squirrels, if not for the Fuerteventura Biosphere, few tourists take the slightest notice of the signs - the antics of the squirrels are just too appealing!
Article & photos posted March 15th, 2016
Text and photos copyright © 2016 Lucy Hornberger. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use prohibited.