Red Squirrels are thriving in our Woodlands here in Highland Perthshire. The mixture of different trees, conifers and broadleaf, evergreen and deciduous means that there is food as well as plenty of shelter from the weather and predators. Many of our squirrels are easy to see because they have become used to walkers and visitors in the woods and gardens where they are fed.
Red squirrels east all kinds of things from the woods, but their main foods include hazelnuts, fruits, berries, beech mast, spruce and pine cone seeds, and fungi which are frequently cached in trees. They will also eat buds, shoot and flowers of trees as well as bark and sap from coniferous trees. They are not territorial, so lots of squirrels can be seen in one area.
Red squirrels have been in Highland Perthshire for thousands of years but grey squirrels are very recent incomers from North America. They have moved up from the south, and Highland Perthshire is on the 'frontier' of their expansion. Some ares still only have red squirrels such as Rannoch, Blair Atholl, Glen Lyon and Strathtay. Grey squirrels usually cause red squirrel numbers to decline but they are not actively aggressive. Gray squirrels have a big appetite and eat a lot of the food that red squirrels like, including some which is not ripe enough for reds to eat. Greys are also good at storing fat, helping them to survive hard times better than the reds. Grey squirrels carry the squirrel pox virus which kills reds, but so far this is only found in England and the South of Scotland, although it is spreading further north all the time.
By joining the Scottish Wildlife Trust you can help save an entire species from extinction in Scotland. You can be part of a conservation success story and not only benefit the red squirrel but other much-loved animals, plants and birds too. To donate to Scottish Wildlife Trust click here.
Scottish Wildlife Trust is collecting information on the distribution of red and grey squirrels right across Scotland. This allows them not only to identify areas of importance where habitat management or grey squirrel control will benefit red squirrel populations, but also to understand natural changes in their populations. The data will be shared with local biological records centres and the national database of squirrel records. Please help them by reporting your sightings of red or grey squirrels in each new place where you see them, click here.
For more information please check visit Saving Scotland's Red Squirrels, in partnership with Scottish Wildlife Trust, Scottish Natural Heritage, Forestry Commission Scotland, Scottish Land & Estates, Red Squirrel Survival Trust.
Why not go on your own Red Squirrel forage through Highland Perthshire, see how many you can spot. Here's where we suggest you take a wee look...
The Black Wood at Rannoch, South Side of Loch Tummel, Loch Dunmore in Faskally Forest, Glen Lyon, Cluny House Gardens, Atholl Estates, Killiecrankie,The Hermitage and Birnam Glen.