Red Squirrels

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The UK Action Plan for red squirrels aims to :

  • Protect red squirrels by keeping reds and greys apart and by reducing grey numbers.
  • Assist the reds in areas where red squirrel population numbers have stabilised or are increasing.
  • Establish new red colonies across the UK where feasible.
  • Fund research on how to secure the red squirrel’s long-term future.
  • Raise awareness of the plight of reds in the UK.


There are a number of strategies in play to help achieve these aims including :

  • Grey squirrel control through trapping & shooting (which also reduces the substantial bark stripping damage done by grey squirrels each year).
  • Camera monitoring and supplementary feeding of red squirrel populations.
  • Controlled buffer zones around areas where red squirrels are present.
  • Encouragement of natural predation (e.g. re-introduction of the pine marten).
  • Designing and managing forests via tree species composition and age structure to favour red squirrels rather than greys.
  • Capture and translocation under licence of red squirrels from existing red strongholds to re-populate previously occupied prime habitat that is free from greys.
  • Captive breeding and release of reds as part of a reinforcement or re-introduction project.

In the longer term there are two scientific advancements which are currently under development although both these projects still remain some way off :

  • An immunocontraceptive that can be taken orally by grey squirrels using bait delivered through a suitable species-specific feeder. The Animal & Plant Health Agency who are running this project believe it could reduce grey numbers by as much as 90%.
  • Gene therapy / DNA editing to breed infertility into female grey squirrels to reduce their numbers.
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Red vs Grey Squirrel Comparison


Red Squirrel

  • Fur usually russet-brown
  • Prominent ear tufts in winter
  • Tail all one colour or shades of Red-Brown
  • Narrower head
  • Smaller - 18-24 cm (36-42 cm including tail)
  • Much lighter - up to 360 grams

Grey Squirrel

  • Fur usually Grey-Brown
  • No ear tufts in
  • Tail fringed with White
  • Broader head
  • Bigger - 24-28 cm (46-50 cm including tail)
  • Much heavier- up to 720 grams

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07542 191 865