Belongs to: rodents

Compare with: grey squirrel

Red squirrel Sciurus vulgaris

absent from Essex; threatened elsewhere


Best time to see: all year

Key facts

Our native squirrel, now largely replaced by its grey American cousin

Habitat: confined mainly to conifer woods where its smaller size gives it an advantage over grey squirrels

Widespread across Europe, but in England confined to pockets of conifer woodland and the Isle of Wight

Recognition

Chestnut red to black, with ear tufts in winter; body up to 27 cm with bushy tail almost as long

Agile climber, active in daytime; stores nuts for winter use

Feeds on nuts, shoots, pine cones, fungi, birds' eggs

Lifecycle

Nest (or 'drey') is a sperical ball of twigs and leaves lined with lichen and moss, usually in a dense conifer

Up to 3 litters a year (depending on food supply) of up to 8 young

Does not hibernate but stays in nest in bad weather

  • Main photo

Photo © Leslie Borg