Red Squirrel Appreciation Day 2023: Do they still exist in the UK and where can I see them?

There was a time where it was normal to see a red squirrel in the UK, now you’ve got to travel to remote spots.

There was a time in the UK where red squirrels hopped about in droves, scurrying up trees and scavenging for nuts. Sadly, the UK’s native species is in decline, despite conservation work to prevent their extinction.

Red squirrels aren’t exactly at the top of the chain, young kits are born blind, deaf and totally dependent on their mothers. Their frizzy and fiery tail shadows their every step, proving to be the perfect identifier for domestic cats and foxes.

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The red squirrel spends most of its time in forests or woodlands, scaling trees and suspending dry nests. Across the UK and in parts of Europe, the introduction of North America’s Eastern Grey Squirrel has engendered a rapid decline in the ruby-coloured rodents.

Contrary to popular belief, the decline of the red squirrel in the UK is not down to a tufted tribal warfare with its fellow name-sharer. Instead, the Eastern Grey Squirrel carries a deadly virus known as Squirrelpox which has led to the decline of the red squirrel by 80%, according to Countryfile.

So with the numbers still dwindling, you might be wondering if they still exist in the UK, and if so where can they be found?

Do red squirrels still exist in the UK?

Yes, red squirrels still lay claim to parts of the UK but have retreated to more remote areas to avoid conflict with the Eastern Grey Squirrel. Three quarters of the remaining population of red squirrels can be found in Scotland.

According to research taken during the Great Scottish Squirrel Survey Week, efforts are proving fruitful for conservation specialists in cities such as Aberdeen where sightings of the red squirrel are rising.

red squirrels still lay claim to parts of the UK but have retreated to more remote areas to avoid conflict with the Eastern Grey Squirrel.red squirrels still lay claim to parts of the UK but have retreated to more remote areas to avoid conflict with the Eastern Grey Squirrel.
red squirrels still lay claim to parts of the UK but have retreated to more remote areas to avoid conflict with the Eastern Grey Squirrel. | Unsplash pearse-o-halloran

Where can I see a Red Squirrel?

According to Wildlife Trust, the population of red squirrels is heavily concentrated in Scotland, Ireland and Anglesey in Wales which has been declared grey squirrel free. In the South of England, the Isle of Wight and Brownsea Island are your only hopes of seeing them.

Here’s a list from Wildlife Trust of all the places you can see a red squirrel in the uk…

  • Cumbria, Smardale Gill 
  • Cumbria, Wreay Wood
  • Dorset, Brownsea Island nature reserve 
  • Isles of Scilly, Tresco 
  • Isle of Wight, Bouldnor Forest 
  • Lancashire, Freshfield Dune Heath 
  • Northumberland, Hauxley
  • Northumberland, East Cramlington Pond, Holystone North Wood, Holystone Burn
  • Northumberland, Tony’s Patch 
  • Northumberland, Juliet’s Wood, Briarwood Banks 
  • North Wales, Cors Goch
  • Perthshire, Loch of the Lowes

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