Posts Tagged ‘red squirrels’

After 140 years of being in decline there is now evidence that our much loved and endangered Red Squirrels are on the increase, this is fantastic news.

In September it was revealed that a 3 month survey carried out by volunteers of Red Squirrels Northern England (RSNE) in 300 woodlands in the north including Cumbria and Northumberland found that Red Squirrel numbers had increased by 7% compared to Spring 2012, in contrast to this the numbers of grey squirrels in these areas had declined.

Only this week it was announced that scientists have discovered that some of our Red Squirrels have developed an immunity to the Squirrel Pox Virus, this disease is transmitted by the Grey Squirrel to our native Reds although it does no harm to the Grey Squirrel it can kill our Red Squirrel within weeks.

These findings were published in EcoHealth by Tony Salisbury, from the Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London and suggest that a vaccine can be used to help our Red Squirrels fight the Squirrel Pox Virus.

photos of red and grey squirrels

Population estimated at 211,000 (30k England, 121k Scotland, 10k Wales, 50k N Ireland and Republic of Ireland). Population estimated at 2.77m (2m England, 0.2m Scotland, 0.32m Wales, 250k N Ireland and Republic of Ireland).
Native to GB, probably introduced to Ireland. Native to North America, introduced to Britain in 1870s.
Habitat: deciduous and coniferous forests, but coniferous forests may be advantageous. Wide range of habitats, including broadleaved and conifer forests.
Life expectancy – up to seven years in the wild. Can live up to nine years in the wild.
Squirrel poxvirus is nearly always fatal to red squirrels. Can carry squirrel poxvirus with no effects.
      Source: British Mammal Society/Colin Lawton                           

A long, hard winter can also affect our Squirrels if you want to give them a hand why not put up a Squirrel Feeder in your garden/school garden so that they will always have a permanent and easy source of food.

Wooden Squirrel Feeder

Click here to find out more about helping our other garden wildlife through the winter months including Hedgehogs, Frogs, Toads, Newts, Bats and Dormice.

Love your wildlife


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Thomas is not only very passionate about birds but also about wild animals too, he has seen lots of grey squirrels, but had never seen a Red Squirrel until this summer.

In July we had a Grey Squirrel in the back garden on the bird feeders it was young and naive and was soon encouraged to go as it developed a fascination for our bird boxes much to the horror of the resident house sparrows.

Red Squirrels are not widespread throughout Britain, their strongholds are Scotland, the Lake District, Northumberland, Anglesey, Formby in Lancashire, Brownsea Island in Dorset and the Isle of Wight.

Last year we went to Dumfries on holiday and were thrilled that our caravan site had resident red squirrels, we only saw two during our stay and unfortunately Thomas didn’t spot either of them, this year we went to Anglesey and spent a long afternoon in one of the coniferous woods known to have Red Squirrels, we didn’t see any although we did find some nibbled pine cones, so on a sunny, September Sunday afternoon we went to Formby determined to see the elusive Red Squirrel, it was busy and we thought we had no chance of seeing any but we were proved wrong and actually saw 8 they were high up in the tops of the conifer trees on the edges of the reserve, Thomas was thrilled, I did take some photographs but unfortunately you need a magnifying glass to find the Squirrels.

Scottish Red Squirrels !

Red Squirrels, smaller than grey squirrels, are about 20cm in length plus their tail, they have reddish brown fur and tufts on the end of their ears, they eat hazelnuts, pine cones/seeds, acorns and berries and in the Autumn they bury any surplus food or hide it in gaps in tree trunks. Each year they can have two litters of 3 or 4 babies called ‘kittens’ they live in round nests built high up in trees made of twigs, leaves and bark strips and lined with moss and grass called ‘dreys’. Red Squirrels have four fingers and five toes, can be right or left-handed when eating pine cones and can swim.

This week 2-9 October is Red Squirrel Week and there are various projects up and down the country where you can get involved and help these exquisite and endangered creatures, you can even adopt one.

Love your enviroment


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