Red Squirrel Sciurus vulgaris

Red Squirrels are most often found in coniferous woods. Red Squirrels feast on hazelnuts by cracking the shell in half. You may also find pine cones that have been nibbled, leaving what looks like an apple core behind. Squirrels make a rough nest, called a 'drey', of twigs, leaves and strips of bark in the fork of a branch, high in the tree canopy.

Behaviour

Easily distinguished from the Grey Squirrel by its smaller size, reddish-brown fur (although it can look darker and duller in the winter) and tufts of hair on the end of the ears.

Size

Length: 20cm plus a tail of 18cm Weight: 280-350g Average lifespan: 3 years

Status

Protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981, and classified as a Priority Species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.

Distribution

Strongholds are Scotland, the Lake District and Northumberland with some isolated, remnant populations further south in England and Wales including Anglesey, Formby in Lancashire, Brownsea Island in Dorset and the Isle of Wight.

When to see

Jan – Dec

Facts

Red squirrels do not hibernate, but they do keep stores of food to see them through difficult times when fresh food is not available. In their favoured habitats of mixed broadleaf and coniferous woodland, they have a source of food all year round, as pine seeds are present over the winter months.

Common name

Red Squirrel

Species name

Sciurus vulgaris

When to see in Scotland

Jan – Dec

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