Our Neighborhood's Biodiversity Map

* Please click the continent to see the endangered species of our neighborhood.
Squirrel posing * To See the original image, please click the image
Shared by : Arushi Madan (UK)
Region : Europe
Status : Least Concern (Nationally ENDANGERED in UK)
The red squirrel is one of the favourite British mammals and is native to Britain. They are solitary animals that are active during the day, particularly at dawn and dusk. Red squirrels can store little fat and need to eat regularly they spend up to four-fifths of the time that they are active, feeding and foraging. They have dextrous front feet, which they use to manipulate their food. Squirrels are active throughout the winter and during late summer and autumn will cache tree seeds and conifer cones just below the soil surface to eat when food is scarce. Seeds and nuts carried in the mouth are marked with a scent by cheek glands, helping the squirrel locate the hoard at a later date. The red squirrel eats seeds, nuts and mushrooms and buries some of the seeds and nuts for future meals. Sometimes a foot-high mound of hulls, husks and shredded cones is left after the red squirrel eats. The red squirrel's predators include bobcats, coyotes, hawks, cats, foxes and weasels. Red squirrels are very elusive, spend much of their time in the tree canopy and rarely come down to the ground. High up in the branches, they build spherical nests (called dreys) from twigs and lined with moss, dried leaves or grass. Telltale signs to look for include large dreys in trees, scratch marks on bark, and chewed pine cones that look like chewed apple cores. Vocalizations include chatterings, growls, screeches and whistles. The 'chuk chuk' noise is a vocalisation used often not just when frightened and the foot tapping - perhaps when agitated as they do it when angry or not happy.

• Appearance and Vital Statistics: Weight: approximately 1 pound. Length: The body is 11 to 13 inches long, and the tail adds another 4 or 5 inches.
• Lifespan: about 4-6 years
• Population in Britain: about 120,000 in Scotland, 3,000 in Wales and 15,000 in England.
• Food: seeds of a wide variety of trees, buds, hoots, flowers, berries, nuts, bark and fungi.
• Physical Appearance: Red squirrels have bushy tail, a red-brown coat (sometimes appearing quite grey) and in winter, characteristic long, red tufts of fur on top of their ears. The red squirrel has a reddish back and white belly.
• Habitat/ Territory: The favourite habitat of the red squirrel is a large, mature Scots pine wood but they will also live in deciduous woodlands. The squirrels live mostly high up in the trees and build nests, dreys, in the forks of branches. Generally large pine forests, usually over 50 hectares in size, but also other types of woodland. Coniferous forests of Scotland and Wales mixed woodland in England and Ireland. Red squirrels build large nests, called dreys, often in the forks of tree trunks.
• Causes/ Problems/ Threats Disease (squirrel poxvirus): The red squirrel population is dropping quickly due to a North American invasive animal. The red squirrel’s nemesis is the North American gray squirrel, which is a carrier of a viral disease called "squirrel pox." While gray squirrels are resistant to the virus’s ravages, the native red squirrels die from it.
• Competition with grey squirrels: The slightly larger grey squirrel also directly competes with red squirrels for food and nesting sites. The larger, more robust grey wins in the competition for food and space and it is now widespread in England and Wales. It is more adaptable than the red squirrel and lives happily in hedgerow trees, parks and gardens as well as large woods and forests.
• Increasing number of grey squirrels: The red squirrel has disappeared from large regions of Britain, as the grey squirrel has taken its place. The larger grey squirrel first arrived in the country in the mid-19th century. Research reveals that grey squirrels have higher chances of surviving than red squirrels because they put on much more body fat. Both red and grey squirrels are tree-dwelling mammals that depend on similar food sources and live in a similar ecological niche. However, they are different in their ability to digest bigger seeds from broadleaved trees, specifically acorns. Thus, grey squirrels have a competitive advantage in mixed and broadleaved woodland. They eat large seeds before these seeds are fully ripe, allowing them to obtain more nutritional benefits. This leads to weight loss and lower breeding success among red squirrels. Loss of woodland habitat Road traffic Conservation/Restoration.
It is a priority species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. The survival of the red squirrel may depend on the design and management of conifer forest, their preferred habitat. Authorities are working with partners in projects across Britain to assess ways of designing and managing forests to develop a long term strategy that deters greys and encourages reds. Current work includes the Northumberland Kielder Forest Project, in partnership with the Mammals Trust UK and Newcastle University. The Forestry Commission is working with partners in projects across Britain to develop a long-term conservation strategy that deters greys and encourages reds.

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