We’ve been getting a lot of questions about Red Squirrels this week- mainly ” Where are they all ?”. Don’t worry , they haven’t all disappeared, the explanation lies in their seasonal habits…..
Adult squirrels are now at the tail end of weaning their last kits of the year , especially if they are lucky enough to have had two litters this year. Older kits will be dispersing from their natal territory to find a place of their own to forage and sleep -squirrel territories overlap a lot but the young don’t stay with their parents over the winter. This is why it is so common to find young squirrels as the victims on roads this time of year- they are out and about adventuring in the wide new world and don’t have any road sense.
In our woodlands the peak autumn tree seed crop is right now, meaning seeds and fruits are widely available for harvesting by Squirrels and caching for winters scarcer times. There is also an abundant harvest of wild fungi in autumn that squirrels love and you can even sometimes find mushrooms stashed up trees this time of year with tell-tale teeth marks on them!
So with this great autumn abundance of wild foods, the squirrels are sensibly focussing their attentions on gathering and storing as much of it as they can before it disappears. They don’t need our garden feeder nut hand-outs so much just now, and they no doubt know they will still be there when the woods are bare.
So don’t worry, your local squirrels haven’t disappeared, they are just busy this autumn!
What to find out more? Well, handily this weekend, to mark National Red Squirrel Week. we have having a Red Squirrel theme at Loch of the Lowes all weekend- drop to find out more, pick up information about how you can help squirrels, and have some fun with the family. If you need a expert advice, our local Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels Officer Ken Neil will be on hand on Sunday to help.
Red Squirrel family Fun Days, Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th September, 11am-4pm. Craft activities and quizzes for kids, all free with Visitor Centre entry.
Ranger Emma ( soon to be the Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrel Project Officer for South West Scotland)