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Baby Red Squirrel found on forest floor is recovering with Wildlife Trust


A tiny red squirrel is recovering with Wildlife Trust officers after a traumatic start to its life.


The four-week-old male squirrel was found on the forest floor at Ainsdale National Nature Reserve by Natural England volunteers.


It is now safely in the hands of Rachel Miller, Red Squirrel Field Officer for the Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside.


Rachel said: “He was on the ground, with a bloody nose, freezing cold and covered in lice. The first priority was to get him warmed up and then rehydrated.


“After three days of TLC he now has a lot more energy and a good appetite. He weighed just 89g but now weighs 93g so is putting on weight already.”


Rachel worked out his age because his eyes were open by he has no upper incisor teeth. She said: “It means he was born sometime in mid-January.”

The Baby Squirrel

Usually, the red squirrel breeding season begins at the end of December and beginning of January with the “mate chases”, a noisy affair where males chase the females. The first litter is then usually born around March. A second litter may be born in the summer.


Breeding is heavily dependent on environmental factors and food availability as the females need to be in good condition and a minimum weight to breed. For this reason, the breeding season can vary. A mild winter and an abundant food source is most likely the reason for the early start this year.


Rachel said: “He will be with me for the next few weeks and, hopefully, we’ll release him later in the spring.


“Can I stress that it is really important not to touch or move any baby animal without first seeking advice. Often the mother is nearby and may be in the process of moving her young somewhere else.


“Young animals have a better chance of long term survival in the wild if they stay with their mum.”


In this case the mother was nowhere around and, last year, Rachel looked after and released a squirrel which had been picked up and dropped by a magpie.

Rachel with another orphaned squirrel

Just 10 years ago, the red squirrel was a common sight in North-West woodlands, parks and gardens. In 2008, a squirrel pox outbreak wiped out 80 per cent of the red squirrel population on the Sefton Coast.


Grey squirrels carry the deadly squirrel pox virus but do not suffer from any symptoms. However it is fatal to red squirrels and can wipe out entire colonies. The greys also outcompete the red squirrels for resources and strip trees of nuts before they are ripe enough for reds to digest, leaving them to starve.


However things are looking up with red squirrels on the Sefton Coast now up to 80 per cent of pre-pox figures, as a result of habitat improvement work by the Wildlife Trust and other supporting organisations, under the banner of Red Squirrel United.


Wildlife Trust members have also rallied to in the Last Red Squirrel campaign which you can support on the website at http://www.lancswt.org.uk/last-red-squirrel


Let’s make sure this little fellow isn’t the last red squirrel in the North West.



Top photo: Rachel feeding the baby squirrel

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