Red Squirrel

The scientific name for the red squirrel is Sciurus Vulgaris. This species, which is native to Britain has since become displaced by the American grey squirrel.

The red squirrel, also called the Eurasian Red Squirrel is smaller than the grey and less successful in keeping it’s territory from the invasive grey squirrel.

The average length for the red squirrel’s body is around 22cm with an extra 17cm for the tail. The red squirrel can weigh between 250 – 340g.

The general colour for the coat of a red squirrel is red, although this can range from a brown tinted with red to a blackish colour. A red squirrel will mault its coat twice year; once to get rid of the thick winter coat so it can grow a thinner coat, and secondly to get rid of the summer coat and grow the winter coat that will enable it to survive through the winter.

Red squirrels tend to mate twice a year around February then again around July. It is possible for a female red squirrel to produce two litters although one is the norm. Prior to mating males will chase the females for up to hours around the trees until the female is satisfied the male is strong. If more than one male is after the same female, the female will lead them all through an exhausting course through the trees until there is only one male left following her. Males can tell when females are in season due to a distinctive odour. Females generally come into season when they are in their second year, however the female must have a specific body mass. It has been found that in general the heavier red squirrels breed more successfully than lighter-weight individuals.

The life expactancy for a red squirrel is around three years, although this depends on if they survive their first winter; many do not. Some red squirrels have even lived up to 7 years in the wild and 10 in captivity.

This picture shows the red squirrel with its grey winter coat

The nest that a squirrel makes is called a drey.

Red squirrels mainly eat a diet consisting of seeds, nuts, berries and fungi. They will also eat bird’s eggs. Did you know that the red squirrel cannot digest corns? Around 70% of the time, a red squirrel will be foraging for food.

Many red squirrels contract Parapoxvirus, a fatal disease carried by grey squirrels; this is one reason for the red squirrel becoming increasingly uncommon in Britain and other places.

Red squirrels are the only type of squirrel found on the Isle of Wight as the sea provides a barrier to other squirrel species. To find out more about red squirrels on the Isle of Wight click here.

June 3, 2010 В· Maddia (Admin) В· 2 Comments
Tags: , ,  В· Posted in: Tree Squirrel Species

2 Responses

  1. Jean - June 12, 2010

    Where are there any red squirrels?

  2. Mad (Admin) - June 12, 2010

    Red squirrels are hard to find, due to them being replaced by the grey squirrels. Generally, you can still find the red squirrel in northern England and Scotland and some parts of Ireland. They have recently been reintrodruced to Newborough Forest. They can also be found in central England and places such as Cumbria and Northumberland.
    The only type of squirrel found on the Isle of Wight is the red squirel, as the sea provides a physical barrier to other squirrel species.