Thursday, 12 June 2008

Grey Squirrels

Sciurus carolinensis is an invader that has been in the U.K. since the mid 1800's. This species has spread rapidly throughout the UK and is now found in all but the northernmost parts of these islands. Today we went to Longton Park which is just down the road from our house. There are an abundance of grey squirrels around this large urban parkland.
The Grey Squirrel is a very adaptable creature, eating a wide range of food and colonising any type of forest habitat. The native Red Squirrels will only live in pine forest, most of which has been replaced by plantations or building developments. The Reds are still abundant in Scotland where the pine forest habitat is still intact. Isolated colonies can also be found in remnant pine forests at some locations in the U.K.
Grays will have a go at most foods. This one is cleaning out a discarded sweet wrapper with a toffee residue inside.
They are agile little blighters, seldom staying still for more than a couple of seconds at a time.
I love the way they stand, holding their front paws to their chest, with a keen eye on everything around them.
When unsure of a situation they are straight up the nearest tree and watching all of the time.
Actually, the squirrels in Queens Park, Longton are very socialised to city life. They will come and greet park visitors in exchange for nuts and other food. Some of the squirrels will feed from your hand and the bravest will come to an extended hand even when it is empty.

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