Facebook icon Twitter icon Forward icon

December 2015

Welcome to the December 2015 edition of the Red Report. As the days are short, weather is poor and the temperature has dropped, our Ranger team have largely moved away from trapping and are focussing more on shooting through the winter months. 

Our office will be closed between 24th December and 4th January. Wishing you a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year from all the team. 

Winter Feeding for Red Squirrels

Copyright Gary Gallager

It's that time of year again when red squirrels could do with a helping hand. Many people like to feed squirrels in their garden or local woodland which can have enormously beneficial effects if the feeder is well looked after. Supplemental feeding helps red squirrels gain body mass to get into breeding condition and can help populations survive lean times. Our Rangers use a network of feeders as one method of assessing squirrel populations and controlling greys.

However, a poorly maintained feeder can pose risks to squirrels.

If you do use a feeder, here are some top tips:

Don’t overfeed. Use only high quality squirrel food, available at many garden centres and pet shops. If you find that your feeder is too large, add a block of wood or stone inside to reduce the volume of food that the holder contains.
Allow the feeder to be empty for a few days at a time. This stops the squirrels becoming dependent on supplementary food and encourages foraging.
The feeder should be disinfected every time you visit it to reduce the risk of squirrelpox and other diseases. We recommend using Virkon S tablets which can be made into small 500mls batches  of disinfectant solution. It’s also important to remember that once made up, the solution begins to weaken after 7 days and is 20% less effective after two weeks.
Never allow food to go mouldy. If you find that the feeder is not emptying quickly enough, put less food in it. Always clear out mouldy food and disinfect the whole feeder.
• Depending on your feeder design, you may want to drill some holes in the bottom for drainage.
• If you’re not sure which species is visiting, use sticky pads under the lid to capture hair samples. We are happy to help you analyse any hair samples you're not sure about.

The Northern Red Squirrels website also has some excellent information on feeding squirrels.

Newcastle University Student Study

Amanda Herron, an undergraduate student at Newcastle University is investigating red and grey squirrel monitoring methods for her dissertation. To help with her research, she is asking squirrel conservationists to take part in a short survey.

Directions from Amanda:

There are 2 sections to the survey: Section 1 comprises of 30 images of squirrels captured from remotely triggered wildlife cameras positioned in woods in Northumberland. You may notice ear tags on some of the squirrels. For each image select either red or grey beneath. Some images are more difficult to identify than others but just have a go!

After the 30 image questions, clicking 'next' will direct you to section 2 where there will be 7 questions for you to complete. There will then be 2 questions to inform me of your level of experience with UK squirrels. Finally please provide your gender, age, occupation and the first half of your postcode, simply so that I can see what portions of the public are represented in my survey.

You may choose to leave the survey at any time. Your responses will be anonymous to me and used solely for the purposes of my research. If you would like to receive the correct answers to the survey, I will be happy to provide them upon email request.
Please note, this Google Forms survey is only compatible with the Google Chrome web browser and will not work properly in Internet Explorer. Many thanks for participating in this survey.

To take part in the survey, please click here.

UK Squirrel Accord Meeting

The UK Squirrel Accord consists of 32 leading woodland, timber industry and conservation organisations in the UK. It was created at the invitation of HRH Prince Charles – who had the aim of bringing a concerted and coordinated approach to securing the future of our red squirrels and woodlands, and to controlling the introduced grey squirrel.

Conservation Officer Russell Tait attended the UK Squirrel Accord meeting in London on 13th November, which brought together squirrel conservationists for a full day of talks and information sharing. Speakers included Christian Bensaid of the Penrith and District Red Squirrel Group, Dr. Craig Shuttleworth of Red Squirrels Trust Wales, Newcastle University PhD student Deborah Brady and many more. 

To find out more about their aims, visit the UK Accord website by clicking here.