European Red Squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris)


Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia
Family:    Sciuridae
Size:    Length: 7 to 9 inches (18 to 23 cm)
Weight: 9 to 16 ounces (250 to 450 grams)
Diet: Seeds, nuts, fruit, pinecones, mushrooms, bird’s eggs, flowers, vegetables, and tree sap
Distribution: Europe, Asia
Young:  4 to 10 young, twice per year
Animal Predators:  Pine martens, domestic cats and domestic dogs
IUCN Status: Lower Risk, Near Threatened
Terms: Nest: Drey
Lifespan: 4 to 6 years in the wild and up to 18 years in captivity



·        During the winter they grow long fur and ear tufts to keep warm.

·        When a pinecone is neatly stripped (like corn on the cob), a squirrel has been eating it—when it is frayed, it is the work of a bird.



Although they are known as red squirrels, their colour varies from red to brown, grey and black. In the Sila region of Southern Italy, there are only black ones and they have no white undersides like the other colour variations. In Great Britain, the squirrels are all red, while in other areas, there are mixtures. 



European squirrels are still common throughout Europe and northern Asia. Squirrels usually have more than one nest, and different squirrels may use the same nest at different times. Located high in a tree, the nest is built of leaves, soft grass, moss and twigs in the fork of a tree, or an abandoned woodpecker’s nest in a tree hollow.


Feeding Habits

Their diets include seeds, nuts, fruit and pinecones. They also may eat mushrooms, bird’s eggs, flowers, vegetables, and tree sap. Food is sometimes stored under the earth or in a tree. 



During mating season, a female may be chased by several males. Her gestation period is approximately five weeks. The babies are born completely helpless, with no fur and their eyes closed. The babies’ eyes do not open for another three to four weeks, and at that time they begin to move around the nest, as their legs are finally strong enough to support their bodies. After 45 days they begin to eat solid food and will leave the nest for their first look at the world around them. In two months they are fully weaned and have learned from their mother enough survival techniques to get along on their own, although they usually stay close to her for another month. 



Squirrels remain solitary except during mating season. These energetic little animals are up at dawn to begin their search for food. In warm weather, during the midday heat, they rest in their nests, but come out again in late afternoon, and then retire at sunset. They are agile and quick, and can jump from tree to tree and run along the thinnest of branches, but come to ground as well, in order to bury nuts or to search for food. 



In Great Britain, where they were once abundant, red squirrel numbers have diminished in the last century to the point where they are now extinct in southern England. The exact reason for this is unknown, although the introduction of grey squirrels into their range is believed to be part of the problem It has become a concern to the point where these squirrels are now protected from being harmed, captured or otherwise interfered with (including their nests) throughout Great Britain. 



Eurasian Red Squirrel Wildlife Fact File, IM Pub, US