The squirrels in the woodland near Styal are much more timid than their urban counterparts (eg SJ9593 : Squirrel at Hyde Chapel (2)
). This one was very reluctant to pose for the camera.
The North American grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) was first introduced to Britain and other parts of Europe in 1870 (Link
), being released merely as a curiosity to satisfy the Victorian penchant for novelty. The resilient and adaptable grey squirrel has found the perfect niche and thrived in our broadleaved woodlands, parks and gardens and has become a widely accepted as a natural part of British wildlife. Indeed, they are so successful that targeted control of grey squirrels is having to be implemented in many areas of the UK where they have become a pest.
Contrary to a common misconception, there is no evidence of grey squirrels chasing away the red squirrel. Grey squirrels fare better than red in deciduous woodland whilst red squirrels survive best in coniferous areas. Climate changes over the last century have meant that the pine forests have retreated north where the climates are still cooler, leaving these areas the best places to find Red Squirrels. In addition wide spread deforestation for agriculture, industry and housing together with changes in tree species planted in recent years have favoured greys, with significant red squirrel habitat disappearing.
- Conservation Issues UK
- We’re as native as you
- Red squirrel and grey squirrel ecology