Red Squirrels are thriving in our Woodlands surrounding Dunkeld and Birnam. The mixture of different trees, conifers and broadleaf, evergreen and deciduous means that there is food as well as plenty of shelter from the weather and predators. Many of our squirrels are easy to see because they have become used to walkers and visitors in the woods and gardens where they are fed.
Red squirrels east all kinds of things from the woods, but their main foods include hazelnuts, fruits, berries, beech mast, spruce and pine cone seeds, and fungi which are frequently cached in trees. They will also eat buds, shoot and flowers of trees as well as bark and sap from coniferous trees. They are not territorial, so lots of squirrels can be seen in one area.
Red squirrels have been in the area for thousands of years but grey squirrels are very recent incomers from North America. They have moved up from the south, and Highland Perthshire is on the ‘frontier’ of their expansion. Grey squirrels usually cause red squirrel numbers to decline but they are not actively aggressive. Grey squirrels have a big appetite and eat a lot of the food that red squirrels like, including some which is not ripe enough for reds to eat. Greys are also good at storing fat, helping them to survive hard times better than the reds. Grey squirrels carry the squirrel pox virus which kills reds, but so far this is only found in England and the South of Scotland, although it is spreading further north all the time.
Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels is collecting information on the sightings of red and grey squirrels – please take a minute to complete their questionnaire.
For more information please check visit Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels, in partnership with Scottish Wildlife Trust, Scottish Natural Heritage, Forestry Commission Scotland, Scottish Land & Estates, Red Squirrel Survival Trust.
Why not go on your own Red Squirrel forage around Dunkeld and Birnam, see how many you can spot. We suggest looking at The Hermitage and Birnam Glen.