Their scientific name is Sciurus carolinensis.
They were introduced from USA /Canada to approximately 30 sites in England, Scotland and Wales from 1876–1930.
Grey squirrels do not appear to be susceptible to Squirrelpox virus, but may carry and transmit it.
Grey squirrels eat seeds, buds, flowers, shoots, nuts, berries and fruit from many trees and shrubs. They also eat fungi and insects, and occasionally birds’ eggs and fledglings. They will will stip bark from trees during the summer months.
They store nuts in the ground in the autumn, but do not remember where they store them. They rely on scent to find them.
The male and female are usually called a buck and doe, they can also be right- or left-handed!
Squirrels moult their coat twice a year, once after winter and then in the late summer before the weather gets colder again.
They do not have ear tufts, they can live to 5-7 years of age, they also have four fingers and five toes.
The upper fur is mainly grey with mid-brown along the upper back, and chestnut over the flanks, limbs and feet. Their underside is white. The tail hairs are grey, banded with brown and black and a white fringe.
Their body is 24–26cm long and their tail is 19-24cm in length, and weigh 450-650g.
Squirrels live high in trees in a nest made from twigs, leaves and moss. This is called a drey. More recently they have taken to living and nesting in loft spaces, where they can cause considerable damage.
The drey may be in a hole in the tree or set against the trunk and branches.
Pregnancy lasts 44 days and their young are called kittens.
Kittens are born with their eyes closed, without teeth and with no hair. After about seven weeks they look just like small versions of their parents and are ready to leave the drey.
There are generally 2 litters a year (rarely 3), with 3–7 kittens in each litter
Average densities in broadleaf areas are approximately 8-18 grey squirrels per hectare, and 0.1-1 per hectare in coniferous areas.
They do not hibernate over winter, but may be less active when weather conditions are bad.
They can hang upside down, and swim.
It is a criminal offence to re-release a captured grey squirrel back into the wild!
Pest and predator control is an integral part of conservation and wildlife management. It is necessary to reduce predation and damage to acceptable levels, particularly at vulnerable times of the year such as the nesting season. It is the responsibility of all those involved in pest and predator control to ensure their methods are legal, humane and carried out with sensitivity and respect for other countryside users.
Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 Section 11 and the Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985 Article 12 it is illegal to:
* set in position any trap calculated to cause bodily injury to any wild animal included in Schedule 6.
Schedule 6 includes, badger*, pine marten*, otter*, red squirrel*, wild cat*, polecat and hedgehog.
*Note: pine marten, otter, red squirrel and wild cat are also listed in Schedule 5 of the Act and the Order and are therefore fully protected. The badger and its sett are also protected under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992. Wild cat and polecat are excluded from the Order.
* Under Section 11, if any person (e.g. an employer) knowingly causes or permits an act, which is unlawful, then he shall also be guilty of an offence.
The wild cat (Felis sylvestris) is totally protected and must not be confused with the domestic cat (Felis catus).
Under the Pest Act 1954 Section 8 and the Welfare of Animals (Northern Ireland) Act 1972 Article 21, it is an offence, in respect of any animal, to use or permit the use of:
* an unapproved spring trap (e.g. a gin trap which is a form of spring trap with toothed jaws, banned in 1958).
* an approved trap in unapproved circumstances (e.g. a Fenn trap placed on a pole to catch birds of prey).
* to sell, offer for sale or possess any spring trap for such an unlawful purpose.
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