Grey squirrel

Grey squirrels are widespread throughout England and Wales and common in pockets of Scotland. They are not native, having been introduced from North America in the late 19th/ early 20th century.
Grey squirrels can breed twice a year, firstly in May to June and again in December to February. There are usually 2 - 6 in each litter, being born blind and naked and becoming fully weaned and just 7 weeks and leaving the nest at about 10 weeks old, living for about 12 years if they are lucky enough.

Grey Squirrel

Image by The Hidaway (Simon) via Flickr

It is well known that Grey squirrels have widely displaced the Red squirrel and control measures have been put in place in Red Squirrel strongholds in an effort to protect this species. The grey squirrel carried the Parapox virus, which is fatal to the reds, but the greys, although carriers of the virus remain unaffected. The Grey squirrels are also bigger and stronger than Reds, which is probably another contributing factor to its success.

ID

  • Predominantly grey in colour, but can have some brown or reddish colour in its fur, with white on its belly and underside and a large bushy tail.
  • • Usually seen hopping along the ground or running and jumping in the treetops.
  • About 25 – 30 cm in length.
  • Does not have ear tuffs like Red Squirrels.
  • Not usually seen in the same areas as Red Squirrels.
  • Four digits on the front feet and five on the hind feet.

Latin name: Sciurus carolinensis

In the Garden

Grey squirrels can be common at your bird table or bird feeders and can delight gardeners by their acrobatic moves but also annoy by feeding on your bird food, flowerbuds, fruits and bulbs! One solution to this is to use squirrel proof bird feeders, which are commercially available at garden centers. If you are in a Red squirrel area and wish to feed these but not encourage the Greys you can also buy Grey Squirrel proof Red Squirrel feeders.
Grey Squirrels can also enter your loft space and cause considerable damage by chewing wires and cables so make sure your gaps under your eves are small enough so that squirrels cant enter!
Trapping squirrels whilst legal is less effective, once caught another squirrel will just move in to replace it. It is illegal to release a Grey Squirrel under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

Grey squirrel

Image by The Hidaway (Simon) via Flickr

Did you know...?

  • The Grey Squirrel can make several thousand caches (hiding its food in secret places) each season
  • The Grey Squirrel can remember where it caches food many months are burying it
  • Grey Squirrels are one of only a few mammals that can descend a tree headfirst
Orgy