Red squirrels or Sciurius Vulgaris, as their scientific name, are one of the most observed wild life creatures. They are found to be widespread in the continent of Europe, but most specifically on the coniferous forests of Scotland, Wales and Ireland.
Red squirrels have bushy tails, ear tufts and coat colors ranging from cream, red and brown to black. During summer, their ears and tails may bleach to cream. Normally, the size of their head and body is 24 cm, while the tail’s length is about 20 cm and a body weight of usually around 350 grams. Their life span ranges from 3 years to 7 years.
Some More facts about Red Squirrels
When it comes to food, red squirrels usually feed on seeds from different kinds of trees, buds, hoots, flowers, berries, bark and nuts. Their favorite habitats are on large, mature Scot pinewoods as well as on deciduous woodlands. They like to live high up in the trees and build their nests and dreys on the branches. Usually the female and males have separated dreys. However, during winter and early part of spring, all male and female squirrels, young and old, could live together in one drey to keep them warm. And when late spring and summer comes, they stop the drey sharing.
Their daily life includes feeding, cleaning themselves and resting. Like humans, they are very much active during the day. They also stop during midday to rest for a while. They collect acorns, beech masts and nuts. You will also find that red squirrels are often scratching and washing due to flea attacks. Their common predators are foxes and birds. But they spend most of their time up on the trees to escape from their prey.
In preparation for winter, they eat a lot during the autumn to store fat reserves for the cold season. They could put up to 12 % of body weight during autumn, while grey squirrels could store up to 25% fat reserves.
The red squirrels’ breeding season starts during the warm days of January. You will see squirrels chasing each other on the tree branches. In one year, the female red squirrel could breed 2 litters. One litter is composed of 3 baby squirrels. April and August are the months these litters are produced. As the young develops, the female squirrel spends more time away from the drey. The male does not take part in the rearing of the young. It would take 8 to 10 weeks for the young squirrels to be weaned and independent and change their coat to adult colors.
Today, red squirrels are one of the favorite British mammals. Yet they are declining in number which means they are also one of those endangered species.