The Red Squirrel (Sciurus Vulgaris) is near absent in the South of England, with declining numbers in the North of Scotland. National Parks Guy

The Forestry Commission writes on its website,

The red squirrel [Sciurus vulgaris] is native to Britain, but its future is increasingly uncertain as the introduced American grey squirrel expands its range across the mainland.

These small animals make a forest walk so enjoyable when spotted in a tree or hanging onto the side of the bark. Still, motionless, just watching. Both the squirrel and the walker freeze and size each other up. (or so it seems!) One feature that stands out is the tail which twitches away when danger may be present, alerting other squirrels to an imminent threat. Squirrels are great climbers and are often seen in trees, either leaping or running up them, but they do come down to the ground for their nuts and seeds. They are also great at hiding those little gems, and you can find out more fun facts about them by looking over at

The UK Forestry Commission reckons that there are potentially only 140 000 Red Squirrels left in Britain and that this is the result of the the disease that the American Grey Squirrel brought with it when it was introduced to the UK. The Squirrel poxvirus has caused widespread eradication of the Red Squirrel, along with road traffic and birds of prey!

The interesting fact about the Red Squirrels in Britain is that nature is responsible for the decline in squirrels, but this decline was only brought about by the introduction of the American Grey Squirrel. It seems fitting to talk about preserving nature, yet the need to be mindful of where animals exist and a new habitat they are moved to may bring about the collapse of another species. We are all responsible for nature, even though she continues to find new and inventive ways to create life, but at times, it seems our inability to think about our actions can unbalance her a bit!

There are more than 200 Squirrel species in the world (except in Australia, according to National Geographic), yet in Great Britain we are seeing the loss of a rather special Red Squirrel with tuffs on it ears and a deep red colour fit for our woods. Let’s keep an eye out for them and encourage them where we can. For further information on the American Grey Squirrel you can see this Guardian Article, “History of grey squirrels in UK“.

If you want to get involved in helping out the Red Squirrel in Great Britain, you can get in touch with Northern Red Squirrels and see how you can help.

The Northern Red Squirrel Team have a hotline number to call if you come across a sick or dead red squirrel and ask if you could alert them to it. (07878 061880 & 07788264571)

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