Species of the Month - December 2011

Red Squirrel

Sciurus vulgaris

Red Squirrels are active all day during the short days of winter, and with the leaves off the trees they are easy to watch and very entertaining, one of the great wildlife spectacles of Argyll.

Sciurus vulgaris (eating acorn)   Sciurus vulgaris


Sciurus vulgaris   Sciurus vulgaris

Red Squirrels are found in all kinds of woodland, both broadleaved and coniferous.  They are widespread on the Argyll mainland but absent from most of the islands.

Feeding signs provide a clue to their presence.  Spruce cones gnawed by squirrels are very frayed at the base, while those nibbled by mice have the base smooth and rounded.  Hazelnuts are split in half vertically by squirrels; no other creature does this.  If you find fresh feeding signs, sit quietly looking up at the branches and with luck after a short while you may see the squirrels themselves.

Grey Squirrels have begun to enter Argyll at Arrochar.  If they arrive here the Red Squirrel will be wiped out by the Squirrel Pox Virus which is carried by the greys.  It is very important that any sightings of Grey Squirrels are reported promptly.  If you hear of any in your area, please investigate, but bear in mind that some Red Squirrels have a lot of grey fur and are often mistaken for Grey Squirrels. 

In winter Red Squirrels can be told from Greys by their ear tufts, shown in the top left picture on this page.

Sciurus carolinensis
Grey Squirrel

Please send in your Red Squirrel sightings using the form below.

The organisation Saving Scotland's Red Squirrels is working to protect Red Squirrel habitats, and any sightings will be passed on to them.

Date of sighting 
Grid reference 
Number of squirrels 
Habitat - tree species 
Name of finder 
Your name (if different) 
Email (not needed if I already know it!) 
Any other details, e.g behaviour 


By filling in this form you agree that the information contained in this form may be collated and disseminated manually or electronically for environmental decision-making, education, research and other public benefit uses in accordance with the LNHG data access policy.  Your email address will not form part of the record and will not be passed on to anyone.

Carl Farmer
G Biological Records Manager

Sightings so far

18 Dec: Red squirrel in mixed deciduous woodland at Inverawe - Carl.

28 Dec: Judith saw one crossing the A819 north of Inveraray, in an area of willow, birch and pine.

28 Dec: Marlyn reports two seen at Taynuilt

Note you can still send in records for past species of the month.  Here is the list of species we've had so far:

Nov 2011 - Hazel Gloves
Oct 2011 - Small Tortoiseshell
Sep 2011 - Fly Agaric
Aug 2011 - Grass of Parnassus
Jul 2011 - Golden-ringed Dragonfly
Jun 2011 - 7-spot Ladybird
May 2011 - Green Hairstreak
Apr 2011 - Townhall Clock

Mar 2011 - Frogspawn

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All photos and other content copyright Carl Farmer except where stated