Living with Birds 21 Facts on Squirrel Tweetapedia

21 Wildlife Facts on Squirrels

June 11th, 2024
2 minute read
A Squirrel, UK
A Squirrel, UK A Squirrel, UK
  1. Europe's native red squirrel is found throughout much or Europe. Its habitat extends from northern Scandinavia to southern Spain, stretching east to Hokkaido in Japan.
  2. The grey squirrel is known in its native North America as the Eastern gray squirrel: it occurs from the Great Lakes south to Texas and Florida.
  3. The first authenticated record of the grey squirrel being released in England was by T V Brocklehurst in the grounds of Henbury Park, Cheshire, in 1876.
  4. Many more introductions followed until the last in 1937.
  5. By the Second World War the American invader was already firmly established throughout much of southern England, while the red was in sharp decline.
  6. Today the red squirrel is extinct in southern England except offshore islands free of greys, such as Brownsea and the Isle of Wight.
  7. A major programme is underway on Anglesey to retain the reds and keep the invading greys at bay.
  8. To find flourishing populations of red squirrels in Britain you have to visit the Lake District and the Highlands in Scotland.
  9. Grey squirrels have twice the body mass of the red squirrel. This gives them a huge advantage when foraging.
  10. Grey squirrels were first introduced to northern Italy in 1947; here they are ousting the native reds, just as they have in England.
  11. It's against the law to release grey squirrels in Britain: any animals trapped must be destroyed.
  12. Albino grey squirrels are rare in America but relatively frequent in England. Black (melanistic) grey squirrels are common in America but less so in England.
  13. Both species of squirrel are preyed upon by pine martens and birds of prey, particularly goshawks: but cars are almost certainly the commonest cause of death in Britain.
  14. Red squirrels are largely vegetarian. Greys are more omnivorous, often taking eggs and young birds from nests.
  15. Beatrix Potter's Tale of Squirrel Nutkin, first published in 1903, did much to popularise the red squirrel. Miss Potter was inspired by the squirrels she watched in Cumbria.
  16. Contrary to popular belief, squirrels don't hibernate but may remain in their dreys for several days when the weather is particularly cold.
  17. Young squirrels don't leave the drey for the first time until they are at least seven weeks old.
  18. Both species of squirrel are suprisingly good swimmers.
  19. Grey squirrels love eating acorns; reds find them indigestible.
  20. Red squirrels like to build larders of cones to provide food through the winter. Some larders have been found holding as many as 2,000 cones.
  21. Canadian foresters often collect the cones from the larders for seed, rewarding the squirrels with peanuts.

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