As winter approaches more and more red squirrels are visiting the feeding station,
frantically collecting peanuts and hiding them in safe storage spaces for the lean months to come.
It’s fascinating to watch them scampering about all over the feeding station, digging little stashes under the fallen leaves and filling them up with peanuts. These hidey holes make easy pickings for carrion crows and jays who keep an eye where the squirrels are hiding them.
In autumn, food is plentiful for red squirrels as they can feed on a wide variety of other food items such as berries and fungi, when nuts are not available. This abundance will help them to gain weight so that they can withstand the harsh winter and hopefully keep females in good condition to bear up to two litters the following year.
Red squirrels’ coats also start to thicken and the ear tufts become more prominent at this time of year. Whilst in spring they start moulting from the head down, the sequence is reversed in autumn.
Many people believe that the squirrels hibernate during winter. In fact, squirrels will keep on foraging for food in the snow, even though they have already stored food for the winter.
Chris Cachia Zammit