Red Squirrels

Published: 28th September 2020, last updated: 14th September 2023

With its distinguishable reddish fur and unique tufts of hair on the end of their ears, the red squirrel is one of the most charismatic and well-loved mammals. We are proud to have created a safe haven for local red squirrels at our Nature Reserves!

Red Squirrels in Scotland

In the UK, there are estimated to be only 160,000 remaining red squirrels, out of which 75% can be found in Scotland. You might see red squirrels in any Scottish woodland, but your chances increase if you visit the pine forests of the Highlands or Dumfries & Galloway.

About Red Squirrels

Once a common sight across the UK, the red squirrel population has faced a considerable decline due to the invasive, non-native American grey squirrel. Bigger and stronger than red squirrels, the greys often win the competition for food and living space. Grey squirrels also carry Squirrelpox but rarely die from it, whereas the virus is extremely lethal to reds.

Whilst the population in England is scarce and isolated in a handful of locations, you can still find red squirrels in most woodland areas in Scotland. Simply look out for their large dreys (nests) in trees, scratch marks on the bark, or chewed pine cones on the floor.

You can see red squirrels all year round since they don’t hibernate. They are active during the day, though they do enjoy a nap, and they don’t appreciate bad weather. They love seeds and nuts, but they also eat fruits of shrubs and trees, fungi, and sometimes birds’ eggs.

Interesting Red Squirrel Facts

  • Though they don’t hibernate, red squirrels like to keep stores of food in case fresh food is not available.
  • Red squirrels are about 20 cm tall, plus a tail of 18 cm. That means their body is about the size of an adult’s hand.
  • The seeds of up to 200,000 cones is the estimated amount a single red squirrel can eat – a year!

Conservation and Protection of Red Squirrels

In addition to the dominance of grey squirrels, loss or fragmentation of habitat, predation, long-term climate change, and road traffic all pose as serious threats to the red squirrel population, and numbers have drastically fallen from millions to hundreds of thousands in the UK.

How are we supporting red squirrel conservation?

Red Squirrels play an important role in their ecosystems, especially as seed and fungi dispensers in woodlands. At Highland Titles, we take the protection and conservation of our local red squirrel population seriously. Our main efforts to support this species include:

  • Providing and maintaining nesting and habitat boxes, which offer much-needed shelter throughout the year, no matter the weather
  • Providing feeding stations to our red squirrel population, well stocked with hazelnuts
  • Planting hazel trees to create our own sustainable food source for our beloved ginger friends

Planting Trees for Red Squirrels

Since the very beginning of Highland Titles, the Scottish native tree planting project has been an extremely important initiative to allow the local flora and fauna to flourish.

Huge areas of Scottish woodland are covered by non-native softwood which provides no value to local plants and animals, and often creates hostile environments for Scottish wildlife. To combat this, our tree planting project focuses on great Scottish broadleaf native trees, including oak, alder and hazel.

Red Squirrels are big fans of hazel trees, in particular, which provide a wealth of food and natural habitats.