Squirrels caught steal­ing

The Week - Junior - - Front Page -

Re­searchers have unmasked a seed­steal­ing, furry ban­dit that pinches mil­lions of pounds-worth of food from UK gar­dens ev­ery year.

Sci­en­tists caught naughty grey squirrels in the act, film­ing their loot­ing an­tics as they raided bird feed­ers and ta­bles – leav­ing our feathered friends hun­gry and gar­den­ers short-changed.

Nearly half of UK homes put food out for birds. This amounts to around 150,000 tonnes of food a year, cost­ing ap­prox­i­mately £210 mil­lion. Af­ter film­ing more than 33,000 vis­its to bird feed­ers, sci­en­tists from the Univer­sity of Read­ing found that the seem­ingly cute ro­dents reg­u­larly snaf­fle more than half of the nosh.

“By us­ing uncaged feed­ers, much of the food we pro­vide may be go­ing to un­in­tended re­cip­i­ents. It’s not only that birds lose out on a source of food, but we are sup­port­ing a species that can harm the ones we in­tend to help,” ex­plained Pro­fes­sor Mark Fel­lowes, who led the study. Grey squirrels are also known to in­vade nests in search of eggs and chicks, putting the birds at fur­ther risk.

Feed­ers en­cased in a pro­tec­tive cage were not plun­dered as of­ten as reg­u­lar ones. How­ever, the num­ber of birds vis­it­ing these types of feed­ers was re­duced, too. It is thought that birds feel un­able to es­cape eas­ily should a preda­tor ar­rive while they are in­side. One sim­ple way to de­ter squirrels is to put out the birds’ favourite foods – for in­stance, grey squirrels typ­i­cally pre­fer nuts to seeds. Also, if you put a feeder on top of a pole, you can foil the thieves by greas­ing the pole to stop them scam­per­ing up so eas­ily.

It seems that noth­ing is safe from ac­ro­batic squirrels.

Watch out, there’s a thief about!

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.