Red squirrel

Scotland’s only native squirrel prefers to live in coniferous trees particularly Scots pine. A shy animal that is often heard before it is seen by the sounds of its claws on the bark of the tree as it climbs. It will often freeze when disturbed relying on its camouflage to hide it on a bough.

Resident throughout the year, red squirrels are active by day.  They look their best in winter, with their thicker coats and characteristic ear tufts. The thicker coat on the back can be tinged with a green or grey colour.

In winter the tail is also much thicker and serves as an umbrella when out feeding and a warm sleeping bolster when sleeping. When it is cold, squirrels spend short periods of the day, between periods of foraging, warming up in one of the dreys (or nests) they have built in their territory. During the spring and summer the coat can moult to an orange/red with a blond tail.

Red squirrels are found in upland forests and lowland woodlands throughout Scotland, but they are no longer present in the Central Belt and parts of eastern Scotland because of the introduction of the non-native grey squirrel.

A female red squirrel usually raises two litters of up to five young every year and young squirrels become independent and disperse when they are weaned. They can build their own dreys out of sticks and moss at around 12 weeks old.