Page last updated at 14:43 GMT, Monday, 7 April 2008 15:43 UK

Blindingly obvious... mole repellers useless

A mole
Several mammals do not exist in Ireland

DIY retailer B&Q is recalling sonic mole repellers from its Northern Ireland stores - because the mammals do not exist in Ireland.

The chain admitted it had been a mistake to stock the devices in its NI stores and that they had been on sale for several months.

It stocks two mole repellers - one priced 19.98 and the other 14.98. Both are to be withdrawn from sale.

"The mole repellents were sent to Northern Ireland by mistake and will be removed from stores in the near future," a B&Q spokesman told BBC News.

Moles, which are almost blind, live underground and burrow holes, with some species aquatic or semi-aquatic.

'Sea level rose'

Professor Ian Montgomery from Queen's University said there were no moles at all in Ireland.

"The origin of the Irish mammal fauna is very interesting because the major process is one of glaciation," he said.

"During the last ice age, most parts of Ireland were covered, as was Britain, and as the ice retreated animals from the south moved northwards.

"They moved through continental Europe. They got into Britain, but they didn't get into Ireland because the sea level rose too quickly.

"As a result, Ireland was left without moles, whereas moles managed to get into Britain."

There were quite a number of mammals which did not exist in Ireland, said the academic.

"For example, we only have one field mouse here - which was probably brought in with early man.

A stoat
There are stoats in Ireland, but there are no weasels

"We are without the common shrew, but we have the pygmy shrew.

"We have about half the number of bat species compared to Britain and to the rest of Europe. We don't have weasels, but we do have stoats.

"Snakes, and reptiles in general, are poorly represented.

"But we do have the common lizard, we have slow worms - but they have been introduced - and there is probably the odd grassnake around, that again has been introduced."




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