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Red Squirrels

All about red squirrels
Common Name: Red Squirrel
Size: 21cm (8 inches)
Colour: Red
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia
Suborder: Sciuromorpha
Family: Sciuridae

In Britain there are two types of squirrel: The Grey and Red squirrel. The numbers of red squirrels have decreased drastically due to the introduction by humans of the grey squirrel and lack of conservation.

Facts:

  • Squirrels have four teeth in the front of their mouth.
  • Their teeth grow constantly throughout their lives to prevent their teeth from wearing down.
  • Their padded feet cushion jumps from up to 20 feet.
  • Squirrels have their eyes on both sides of their head.
  • They can see most of their surroundings without turning their heads.
  • They are runners and able reach up to 20 mph.
  • Habitat includes forests and woodlands and where a majority of food will be found.
  • Food includes varieties of nuts, berries, tree bark, fungi, garden crops and food and vegetables.

The red squirrel is a tree squirrel in the genus Sciurus. Numbers of red squirrels in Great Britain, and Ireland, have decreased drastically in recent years due to the introduction of the grey squirrel by humans and lack of conservation.

The red squirrel has predominantly red fur which can vary from black to red depending on the time of year and location. Their main features are a white-cream undersides, a large bushy tail and long ear-tufts which distinguish them from the grey squirrel.


Diet:

Red squirrels eat a range of food; tree seeds, for example conifer cones which they strip to get at the seeds within. They will eat some types of fungi found in the forests as well as hazelnuts, beech and chestnuts, berries and young shoots.

Behaviour

A scatter-hoarder; hoarding food in numerous small caches for recovery later. Some caches of food are temporary such as those made near a source of abundant food. Stored food may be retrieved within hours or days for reburial at a more secure site. More permanent, secure and food caches are left for weeks or months. Squirrels tend to make several thousand caches each during seasons. Red squirrels have a less accurate spatial memory for the locations of their caches which results in having spend a lot of time in search for them when in need of food.

Habitat:

Their habitat is typically broad leafed woodlands and coniferous woods with although they prefer for Scots pine. Red squirrels are found in broad-leaved woods where there is a mixture of trees and shrubs but less so now due to the more competitive grey squirrels. Nests are made out of twigs and lined with moss, tree bark, leaves, and grass. Tree hollows and woodpecker holes also serve as nests. As well as a home their nests serve as protection from a variety of predators.

Signs

  • Scratching noises
  • Running around in attics and wall voids.
  • Squeaks and bark-like grunts.
  • Squirrel droppings (size of jellybeans)

Prevention

  • Home maintenance: check windows and roofs regularly for cracks and wear, in particular signs of gnawing.
  • Check and seal chimneys with mesh coverings and replace open chimney pots with grilled pots.
  • Keep trees trimmed so that branches do not over hang the home and allow squirrels to hide in the vegetation
  • Use squirrel proof bird feeders
  • Trapping and removal by a trained professional