Red squirrel

Species profile

Name: the red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) – or Eurasian red squirrel – is a species of tree squirrel common throughout Europe and Asia.

Appearance: red squirrels are easily recognised by their tufted ears and red fur. However, they aren’t always red and their fur can vary based on the time of year and where they live. While red is the most common colour, they can range from black to red. They shed their coat twice a year – switching from a thin summer coat to a thicker, warmer one in winter.

Size: red squirrels measure around 20 cm long with their bushy tails adding another 20 cm. They typically weigh around 300 grams.

Diet: they mostly eat seeds – neatly stripping conifer cones to get at the seeds within. Although they also sometimes eat nuts, berries, young shoots, and even birds eggs and nestlings!

Did you know: red squirrels have a long history in the cultural lives and stories of humans. In Norse mythology, Ratatoskr is a red squirrel that runs up and down the world tree spreading gossip. In English heraldry, red squirrels are often depicted in the act of cracking a nut. More recently, Squirrel Nutkin was made into a popular character in the Beatrix Potter books for children.

Location: red squirrels live in coniferous woodlands in Northern Europe and Siberia. In Western and Southern Europe they are found in broadleaved woodlands where there is a better year-round source of food. 

Where to see red squirrels

According to reports submitted to WildSide, you can see red squirrels in the following places:

Place Chance to see User rating No. reports
Loch Ness
very good
very low

Photo credit: WildSide team member Rob Morris

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