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The Rare Native Red Squirrel

The Rare Native Red Squirrel

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With the abundance of grey squirrels you see scampering across the ground and in the treetops here in the UK, you would think that they were our native squirrel species.

But in fact, the true native species is the much rarer red squirrel, which would have been a common sight across the country before the late 1800s. This was about the time that the red squirrel's grey cousin from the eastern parts of North America was introduced to the British Isles.

They were a fashionable edition to the estates of the wealthy and being larger than their red competitors and carriers of a virus which red squirrels have no immunity against, they quickly became the dominant species. Nowadays, there are approximately 2.5 million grey squirrels compared with just 120, 000 native red squirrels.

For a chance to witness this rare, russet coated rodent in its natural habitat, there are only a few places left in the UK where they can be found; namely in the North East of England and Wales. Scotland has the largest number of red squirrels, with more than three quarters of the population.

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