jamie donkey

the UK Squirrel situation

Red Squirrels are native to England... Grey Squirrels are not.

The Grey's were imported from America as a novelty and have desecrated the national Red squirrel population by just being better at finding and hiding nuts especially heavy acorns.
The reds hibernate later than the greys so the greys have the advantage of being able to steal the red squirrels stash. Off cause under these circumstances human ecological projects are of utmost importance.

Grey squirrels (Scirius caroliniensis) come from North America and were first released in the UK in 1876 in Henbury Park, Cheshire and further sites as a trend. Why the Victorians thought it was a wise decision to live animal export grey squirrels as pets to England no body can say. All we do know is adding them to the wildlife ecosystem was ...an attempt to have more colourful gardens, which were a Victorian garden craze .... but the idea of more squirrels in the country Increasing species diversity... the idea back fired.
The immediate joy of species diversity in well to do area was short lived one red one here and one Grey one there, soon became a horde of just grey with zero chance of the infestation clock ever being able to be reset.

Grey squirrel = North America Grey squirrel (Scirius caroliniensis)

Red squirrel =Eurasian red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris)


Hopefully we as humans can program them back to population density and allow them to live in harmony with the Grey squirrel by monitored ecological steps to keep them as far apart as possible and look after them with extra steps to make sure their supply of nuts are looked after for when they come out of hibernation. Telling Squirrels what to do sounds about as easy as telling frogs not to croak.. but there has been many

Around the county there are pockets of programed conservation going on . It is an ecologists worst nightmare textbook scenario... but it can be achieved with good conservation programs, which we are seeing, but theres more that can be
done to deal with this serious issue. Speaking personally I believe i have only seen one red squirrel in my whole life... thats how drastic it is, that the native species are so thin they are hardly ever really seen.

The current range of the red squirrel in the British Isles. Summarised by the Forestry Commission from data supplied by UK Red Squirrel Group members and the Department of Agriculture for Northern Ireland.

Ideal Habitat:

An area of conifer forest between 2000 and 5000 hectares is considered to be ideal to conserve a population of reds with a high chance of success

Red squirrels are woodland animals and their habitat require first and for most no oak trees as thats what the grey squirrels thrive on. So ideal requirements, such as not planting oak, may prevent the achievement of other conservation aims or woodland management objectives, hence red squirrel conservation must be considered in a wider perspective.
The reserve and nearby grey dominant areas should ideally be separated by a buffer zone 1–3 km wide. This should consist of unsuitable habitat for greys, i.e. conifer forest, broadleaved woodland of small-seeded species, arable land or moorland.
The core of the most suitable sites should be identified and objectives for their woodland management defined through food (tree seed) and cover (age, structure and stocking density).
Chosen sites should also have the potential to enable reds to expand into the less suitable areas. • Ideally, there should be around one-third of each of the following tree age classes: younger than 15 years, 15–30 years, older than 30 years

How do I count squirrels?

So now your managing squirrels how are you going to count them
the answer is a clip board and timed observation.
night time CCTV surveillance
and hair traps, which will indicate grey or red populations in hard to survey areas


It really is possible to revert the damage our recent ancestors did. Not by Grey squirrel genocide, the clock can never be turned back, but by supporting the outposts and nurturing them through management projects that are currently going on and new ones where appropriate managed sites are available.

How can i help if i don't own woodland?

You can help by:

Making records of (a) red squirrel sightings and (b) grey squirrel observations in new areas, and sending them to your local squirrel group.

Surveying and monitoring.

Joining/forming a local squirrel group and joining Wildlife Trusts.

Helping to control grey squirrels

Supplementing the food of reds.





The Cornwall red squirrel Project:

Forestry commission /red squirrel conservation

Where To See Red Squirrels in the north of England

















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