Average lifespan: 6 years
When to seeJanuary to December
AboutNative red squirrels are a lot rarer in the UK than their American cousins, grey squirrels. Usually found in coniferous woodland, they like to feast on hazelnuts by cracking the shell in half. If you’re lucky you may also find pine cones that have been nibbled, leaving what looks like an apple core behind! Red squirrels make a rough nest called a ‘drey’ out of twigs, leaves and strips of bark high up in the tree canopy. Males can be seen chasing females through the trees, leaping across branches and spiralling up tree trunks.
How to identifyThe red squirrel has a reddish-brown coat and pale underside. It has a characteristically bushy tail. It is distinguished from the grey squirrel by its smaller size, red fur and distinctive, large ear tufts.
In our area
Red squirrels are the only true native squirrel species to Shropshire, but sadly they were wiped out in the county by the spread of grey squirrels in the 1970s and are now extinct in the region. Smaller and more agile than the non-native grey squirrel, red squirrels were once a common sight across the Midlands, but records of red squirrels in the area tend to be sightings of grey squirrels with slight red-tinges to their fur.
The nearest population of red squirrels to Shropshire is now in north Wales.