Captured by sousliks: Do you know where in Slovakia they will eat from your hand?

They will be grateful for sunflower seeds.

(Source: TASR/Oliver Ondráš)
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There is a meadow in a locality called Biele Vody not far from Muráň Castle at the Muránska Planina National Park. The meadow is full of European ground squirrels so used to the people who come here to feed them that they will eat from their hands.

They like sunflower seeds, apples, carrots, biscuits as well as old dry bread.

Even though it is not allowed to feed animals in many places, here it is almost required. The European ground squirrels were brought to the meadow in 2000 from Košice airport. They were doing well until 2003 when the local dairy closed and the cows stopped grazing on the meadow, informs the website of the national park.

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Feeding helps mating

The situation had been worsening and finding a European ground squirrel in the meadow was becoming harder and harder. The Živá Planina civic association decided to change the situation and since 2011 donkeys have been grazing here and the supplemental feeding of ground squirrels began in the same year. The website informs that only 12 squirrels lived in the meadow in 2011.

The purposeful feeding helped. The European ground squirrel needs to get back in good condition after winter hibernation. They are starving, so they need to eat first and then they can mate and have their young. If the spring is cold and rainy, they do not have enough time for eating, the females are weak and do not have any young at all.

The population today exceeds a thousand squirrels. It has also lured predators, for which the squirrels are regular food. The meadow is a popular location for both adults and children.

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