News | Latest News | Irish Stoat Citizen Science Survey 2023-2024 has launched!

22nd February 2023

Help needed from Citizen Scientists to record one of Ireland’s oldest mammals.

Vincent Wildlife Trust is appealing to the public for help to record the presence of the Irish stoat throughout Ireland.

This new survey is in partnership with the National Biodiversity Data Centre, the Centre for Environmental Data and Recording in Northern Ireland and the University of Galway.

This survey will start in February 2023 and run until the end of 2024. Information on how to participate is available on the Data Centre’s website or by emailing

The Irish stoat occurs only in Ireland and on the Isle of Man. Stoat fossil bones found in caves in County Cork date back to 27-35,000 years ago so it is one of Ireland’s oldest mammal species.

‘Despite its long history on the island, currently there are only 2,000 records for it in our national database,’ says Ruth Hanniffy, the Trust’s Species Conservation Officer. ‘We hope this survey will encourage people to submit sightings of live and dead stoats so we can fill in the gaps in the distribution and possibly learn more about stoat ecology. Stoats are some of the most elusive small mammals and finding a way to estimate their population is the Holy Grail of mammal recording!’

The Irish stoat is related to the otter, badger and pine marten but is the smallest of these, being similar in size to a rat. Its fur is chestnut brown on the back and head and creamy-white on the belly. It has a long thin sinuous body, short legs and a distinctive black tip to the tail. It occurs in a wide variety of habitats but prefers woodland or scrub. It is active day and night and can kill prey several times its own weight, such as rabbits.

‘This is a fantastic opportunity for us to find out more about the distribution and habitat requirements of one of our native species. We are hoping to tap into the wealth of knowledge of our citizen scientists and we encourage everyone to keep an eye out for these fascinating animals,’ says Dr Colin Lawton of the School of Natural Sciences in the University of Galway.

‘The National Biodiversity Data Centre is very pleased to be providing support for this citizen-science survey which involves partnership collaboration across the island of Ireland and the Isle of Man,’ says Dr Liam Lysaght, Director of the National Biodiversity Data Centre. ‘The Irish Stoat is one of Ireland’s most special mammal species, about which there is still so much to learn. We hope that by encouraging observations from the general public that we can greatly improve our knowledge on this elusive species.’

All records from Northern Ireland should be submitted to the Centre for Environmental Data and Recording (CEDaR).

Financial assistance for this survey was provided by the Irish Environmental Network and National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Follow the Irish Stoat Survey social media pages:


Twitter @IrishStoatSurv


Report your sightings here:

National Biodiversity Data Centre (Republic of Ireland)

Centre for Environmental Data and Recording (Northern Ireland)