People have recently started to notice squirrels on one of Tartu's largest green areas - Toomemägi. Data from nature observation registries shows that there is seemingly a larger number of squirrels in Estonia.
Meeting squirrels on Tartu's Toomemägi seems something of a fairy tale from a long time ago, which is the exact reason for the significant hustle among University of Tartu Museum workers after spotting a few from the museum windows.
"I have not met any in the last ten years. I saw squirrels repeatedly this autumn, even in pairs," acting museum director Jaanika Anderson told ETV's daily affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera" on Tuesday.
"The windows of my office overlook where I think they have their nests. And when I sit in one place calmly, I can see squirrels running around in the trees. I feel like there are more of them now," museum employee Tiiu Kreegipuu added.
Why are squirrels more of a rarity on Toomemägi, you might ask. "Owls can be dangerous to them on Toomemägi, because squirrels like to get into tree cavities where owls also like to spend time in and if they get together, squirrels are inevitably weaker. And there is a decent number of martens in Tartu that can hurt them," said University of Tartu Institute of Ecology and Earth Sciences researcher Marko Mägi.
He said squirrels seem to do well in Estonian cities at the moment, however. "When I have done my own observations and entered them into databases, I can say there are more squirrels in cities. Databases also show that squirrel observation numbers have increased all over Estonia. But this might also be linked to the request made for people to register squirrels in the databases some years ago," Mägi said.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste