Information On Red Squirrels

 

Red Squirrel Information

Red Squirrel:
Sciurus vulgaris

Until the arrival of the grey squirrel into the UK, this species was the only European species. Sadly, it has been out-competed by the grey and has been lost from much of its former range in the UK.

Red squirrels lives in a spherical nest (drey) of approximately 30cm in diameter, which has a frame of twigs and is lined with moss and grass. The drey is usually at least 6m off the ground.

Each squirrel may use several dreys and they have a home range of seven hectares. Like the grey squirrel, they do not hibernate, but will remain in their dreys for several days at a time during bad weather.

Life span:

They live for up to 7 years.

Diet

Red squirrels eat spruce and pine seeds, acorns, berries, fungi, bark and sap tissue. Like the grey squirrel, they store surplus food either just below the ground or in tree clefts.

Reproduction

They mate between January and March, and have a litter of 1-8 (usually 3), following a gestation period of 36-42 days. If there is a poor cone crop the litter may not be born until the summer.

The young are weaned at 7-10 weeks, and are independent at 10-16 weeks. Parental care involves only the female.

Statistics

Head and body length: 18-24cm, Tail length 14-20cm, Weight: 250-350g.

Physical Description

Red squirrels fur ranges from a warm reddish-brown in summer, to deep chocolate brown with grey in winter. The colour may be very variable in any one locality, ranging from almost black to buff. Reds have a bushy tail and ear tufts.

Conservation status

Red squirrels are on the 2000 IUCN Red List as Lower Risk. Whilst not a subject of conservation directives in the UK, studies into the reasons for their decline are ongoing.

Distribution

Red squirrels are widespread in Europe, but have largely been replaced by the grey squirrel in England, Wales and in local pockets in Italy. They are absent from southern Spain and the Mediterranean islands.

Habitat

Red squirrels live in large patches of conifer forest (over 50 hectares), and in the UK, they have adapted to Scots pine forest. They can be found at altitudes up to 2000m in the Alps and Pyrenees.

 


 


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