Nuts about squirrels
10 reasons we love them
1. Squirrels are found on every continent except Antarctica and Australia
Squirrels come in a range of shapes and sizes, from the Indian giant squirrel at around a metre (3.3 feet) long and a weight of two kilograms (4.4 pounds), to the tiny African pygmy squirrel, at just ten centimetres (3.9 inches) in length. There are over 200 species of squirrel, and they are found all over the world except for Antarctica and Australia.
Yet despite squirrels being prolific across the globe, the UK’s only native species is struggling to survive. With around 120,000 left in the wild in the
UK, red squirrels are the sixth most endangered species and their populations have halved in the last 50 years. The main reason for this is the introduction of grey squirrels, who often carry the parapoxvirus, which is fatal to red squirrels. They also tend to eat more green acorns, leaving the red squirrels with limited food supplies.
Grey and red squirrels cannot breed and when faced with disease and food shortages, red squirrels produce fewer litters. They often produce an extra litter if they expect a good season, but sadly only 20-50 per cent of these will survive.