After 140 years of being in decline there is now evidence that our much loved and endangered Red Squirrels are on the increase, this is fantastic news.
In September it was revealed that a 3 month survey carried out by volunteers of Red Squirrels Northern England (RSNE) in 300 woodlands in the north including Cumbria and Northumberland found that Red Squirrel numbers had increased by 7% compared to Spring 2012, in contrast to this the numbers of grey squirrels in these areas had declined.
Only this week it was announced that scientists have discovered that some of our Red Squirrels have developed an immunity to the Squirrel Pox Virus, this disease is transmitted by the Grey Squirrel to our native Reds although it does no harm to the Grey Squirrel it can kill our Red Squirrel within weeks.
These findings were published in EcoHealth by Tony Salisbury, from the Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London and suggest that a vaccine can be used to help our Red Squirrels fight the Squirrel Pox Virus.
|Population estimated at 211,000 (30k England, 121k Scotland, 10k Wales, 50k N Ireland and Republic of Ireland).||Population estimated at 2.77m (2m England, 0.2m Scotland, 0.32m Wales, 250k N Ireland and Republic of Ireland).|
|Native to GB, probably introduced to Ireland.||Native to North America, introduced to Britain in 1870s.|
|Habitat: deciduous and coniferous forests, but coniferous forests may be advantageous.||Wide range of habitats, including broadleaved and conifer forests.|
|Life expectancy – up to seven years in the wild.||Can live up to nine years in the wild.|
|Squirrel poxvirus is nearly always fatal to red squirrels.||Can carry squirrel poxvirus with no effects.|
|Source: British Mammal Society/Colin Lawton|
A long, hard winter can also affect our Squirrels if you want to give them a hand why not put up a Squirrel Feeder in your garden/school garden so that they will always have a permanent and easy source of food.
Click here to find out more about helping our other garden wildlife through the winter months including Hedgehogs, Frogs, Toads, Newts, Bats and Dormice.
Love your wildlife