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Squirrel Awareness Month

By Swati Patel – Red Ranger

Today I am going to share how I came to volunteer at Reclaiming Reds and why it is important. For some people, squirrels might not be such a big thing. I myself have come across people who have no clue about why we need to conserve red squirrels .

When I first came to the UK for my masters, I used to look at squirrels as “Squirrels” and not as red squirrel or grey squirrel. Then a friend of mine mentioned about how grey squirrels are invasive, and that he heard about it from another friend of his. My love for squirrels got me into researching about this problem and I came across Reclaiming Reds and decided I wanted to volunteer with this project.

For any conservation programme to be successful awareness in the public is needed. Studies have shown that majority of the public have little knowledge of the grey squirrel’s negative impacts or the distinction between red and grey squirrels in particular there origin and history. Reclaiming Reds are trying to raise awareness of this and I am able to help them.

The infographic above illustrates the harm caused by grey squirrels and some of the control measures that are in place to protect and help recover the red squirrel population.

There are almost 300 species of squirrels around the world but lets talk about the two species found in the British Isles, these are the red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) and the grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis). The red squirrels are under threat in the British Isles, they are a native and a protected species under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Whilst the grey squirrels were introduced to the British Isles in the 19th century and have thrived extremely well.

Do you know why red squirrels are under threat?

They are under threat due to:

  • Grey squirrels outcompeting reds for food and habitat
  • Greys pass on squirrel pox virus which is lethal in reds.
  • Habitat loss
  • Red squirrels will not breed when under pressure
  • Road kill