About Red Squirrels
The Red Squirrel is a native species, it's scientific name is Sciurus vulgaris. It is declining in numbers and is designated an endangered species in the UK.They spend most of their time in the tree tops, are diurnal and active for most of the day from before dawn until dark. They tend to be more active around daybreak and then again around dusk, but in winter they are usually only seen in the mornings, going from two to one activity period a day.
Red Squirrels live in both broadleaved and conifer woodland. They eat spruce and pine seeds, buds, shoots, fungi, berries and fruit.
In autumn they stockpile surplus food in gaps in trees or buried just below the ground. When food is plentiful in the autumn, they put on weight to help them through the winter.
Red Squirrels can live for up to 6 years in the wild.Their bodies are around 18cm to 24 cm long and their tail around 14cm to 20 cm. They have a body mass of around 250-350 grams.
They have four fingers and five toes and can be left or right handed.Red Squirrels fur ranges from a reddish brown in summer to a deep brown with grey in winter, but their underside is always cream.
The squirrels tail is used for balance, communication and as a nice cosy blanket.
They moult twice a year, once in winter and and again in late summer. They moult their ear tufts once a year in late autumn.
Their nest is called a drey and is usually around 30cm diameter. Built high from the ground and may be in a hole in a tree or against the trunk where branches fork out. Each squirrel may use several dreys. Red Squirrels can swim and they do not hibernate, although they are less active when the weather is bad and may stay at home for several days.
They can easily jump 2 metres and they have double-jointed ankles to help them go down a tree head first.Red Squirrels mate early in the year (Jan to March) and following a gestation period of 36-42 days they have a litter of usually 3-4 'kittens'. There can be 2 litters per year.
Kittens are born with their eyes closed and have no teeth or hair. They are cared for by their mother and weaned at 10 weeks, when they are ready to leave the drey.