It was lovely to see the Red Squirrels at nearby Peak Wildlife Park earlier this week.
We have plenty of their grey cousins in and around our garden - usually hanging from the bird feeders or burying stones from the gravel path in the grass - but we have only ever seen red squirrels in the wild in Lancashire and in Scotland. I remember seeing them as a child on holiday on the Isle of Wight.
These squirrels aren't truly in the wild of course but they are free to roam in a large enclosed area through which vistors can walk.
We spent half an hour, completely alone with two squirrels. Watching them, taking photos and enjoyng their antics as they bounced around, scampering across paths and up and down trees. It was all quite delightful.
These red squirrels are part of a national breeding programme to enable the build up of a good population for releasing into the wild or to other programmes to enable a growth in the red squirrel population. These dainty little creatures are the only squirrel native to the UK.
Red squirrels are small and agile with extremely good eyesight. They are about 22cm tall and their tail is as long again. They weigh about 300g.
Their luxurious tails, which become thicker in winter, are used for balance, warmth and signalling.
They develop their distinctive tufty ears in winter. They have a life expectancy of three to seven years in the wild up to ten in captivity as they receive regular veterinary care and are safe from predators and diseases especially those passed on by contact with grey squirrels.
At eleven o'clock on the dot the keeper arrived with food. By this time there were other visitors too and the squirrels came to eat. Apparently they can be quite picky with food and like lots of variety.
It's Red Squirrel Awareness week from 10th - 16th October when there will be reports from areas that still have a red squirrel population and those groups who run conservation and breeding programmes.
Below are some links to learn more about these enchanting but endangered creatures.
We were in Cambridge last weekend at our son’s house and they had a black squirrel in the garden.BarbaraxReplyDelete
How wonderful to see a black one in your son's garden. Hope you enjoyed your visit:)Delete
How fantastic, what a treat. Aren't they beautiful. 😊ReplyDelete
They are gorgeous little creatures:)Delete
What a gorgeous post. Although I've spotted grey squirrels whilst visiting UK, I've never seen a red, even in captivity. Thanks so much for sharing. Take care & hugs.ReplyDelete
Thank you Susan, glad you enjoyed the post. It's very special when you see the squirrels in their natural habitat and it's good to know that these ones will eventually be released into other colonies:)Delete
They are cute.ReplyDelete
They are indeed, much cuter than the grey ones:)Delete
How lovely to see those reds. We have them in the wild in Jersey but are difficult to spot. I’ve been told I need to look out for them first thing in the morning when they are collecting food. A little too early for me most days lol! B xReplyDelete
It's lovely to know they are being cared for. We've seen little reds in Scotland near Dumfries and also at Formby in Lancashire where they are more conker brown than red. Know what you mean about early mornings, although I am usually a morning person:)Delete
I didn't know about this enclosed area in the Peak District Wildlife Park where you can observe red squirrels. You took some beautiful photos.ReplyDelete
The park has been there a few years now but the squirrel project is only two or three years old. I was so pleased that the squirrels appeared for long enough for us to take photos and observe their antics:)Delete
Super post Rosie and great photos. So lovely to see red squirrels. I have seen them in England, Anglesey, Scotland and on Jersey but not for some years now as you say they are so localised especially in England. I have heard that pine martens can help them as they prey more on grey squirrels than the reds who are too nimble to be caught. We don't go to the Lake District twice a year any more but I do know on more recent visits we were seeing far less red squirrels there than on visits many years ago.ReplyDelete
Thank you, RR the little reds are wonderful to see. We saw a couple in Scotland at an RSPB site and have seen them at Formby at an NT site. Never spotted one on Anglesey, that would be wonderful. Hope the pine martens can help them as they too are being introduced again around the country.:)Delete
Aw, your photos are wonderful. Love them. XReplyDelete
Thank you shazza, they were delightful to watch and photograph:)Delete
Lovely photos Rosie! They are so cute! I really do hope that they breed and increase the population. Hope you are having a good week. xReplyDelete
Thank you Simone, I hope the squirrels stay safe and increase in the wild. Hope you too are having a good week:)Delete