1. Red squirrels live in coniferous forests and deciduous woods in Europe and northern Asia. Their range extends from the UK, Ireland and western Europe to Russia, Mongolia, and northwest China.
2. Sadly numbers in the UK have fallen dramatically since grey squirrels were introduced as an ornamental species in the 1870s.
3. Red squirrels have a mainly vegetarian diet that includes seeds, hazelnuts and green acorns, fungus, bark, and sapwood. They also occasionally take animal prey such as young birds and eggs.
4. Did you know? Red squirrels don’t hibernate. In autumn they’ll spend time collecting food for the winter when they’ll be less active, but they’ll still be awake.
5. Red squirrels usually produce 2-3 young, called kittens through February to April. Quite often they produce a second litter from May to June.
6. Babies are born 45-48 days after mating and are looked after by their mothers. Kittens are weaned at around 10 weeks when they develop a complete set of teeth.
7. Outside of the mating season, red squirrels tend to live alone, but in early spring, watch out for their courtship displays in the trees.
8. Red Squirrels live in nests called dreys. These are often located in holes in trees created by woodpeckers.
9. In the United Kingdom, most red squirrels have red/orange coats, but other populations around the world have darker coats. In winter all red squirrels grow a darker coat and they have longer ear tufts.
10. Numbers in the UK have dropped from an estimated 3.5 million to 120,000, with the majority red squirrels now living in Scotland.
What can you do?
Helping out with red squirrel spotting is vital. If you see a red squirrel report the sighting to your local red squirrel association. They can use this data to build up an accurate understanding of red squirrel numbers in the UK.
The main red squirrel organisations are: