And finally..the invasive rodent from North America..

The Grey Squirrel Sciurus carolensis

Grey squirrels are mainly grey on both body and tail, but some areas of fur may be more gingery-brown. The underside of the body is white.  They constantly twitch their long tails, which are abundantly fringed with long, straight, black-and-white-tipped hairs.  Black morphs occur in some parts of the range.

Grey squirrels have displaced native red squirrels from much of their former GB range. Grey squirrels damage trees by gnawing young bark, causing commercial damage to forestry and nuisance to gardeners. Grey squirrels are predators of birds’ eggs and chicks.

Red Squirrels are native to Great Britain – at the beginning of the 20th Century they were the only squirrels found here.  After Grey Squirrels were introduced the range of the reds reduced dramatically.  Initially it was thought that this was as a result of competition for food and other resources, however it is now believed that the transmission of the disease ‘Squirrel Pox’ played an important role.  Grey Squirrels are carriers of Squirrel Pox, but it doesn’t kill them.  It does kill Red Squirrels and so when an outbreak occurs the Greys are able to quickly take over from the dying out Reds.

Squirrel struck down with pox. Photo GBNNSS

Here in Ayrshire the Ayrshire Red Squirrel group has secured funding for a Grey Squirrel control officer who is working to remove grey squirrels from areas surrounding some Red squirrel hot spots in South Ayrshire. They are keen for all sightings of red and greys to be sent into them to held get an idea of the spread of the Greys in South Ayrshire which is one of the few Red strongholds left in the UK.


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