IF YOU live in an area with red squirrels, continue to feed them through the fall and winter.
That’s the message from the Red Squirrel Survival Trust ahead of National Red Squirrel Week, which runs from October 10-16.
The trust recommends a mix of shelled hazelnuts, walnuts, unsalted peanuts, and sunflower seeds, along with sweet chestnuts and pine nuts.
“This is a diet rich in all the protein they need to survive the fall and winter weather and ensure they are in good health for the spring 2023 breeding season,” said Vanessa Fawcett, campaign manager for the trust.
“Reds can suffer from a calcium deficiency and this diet, plus some apples and carrots, will help overcome this.
“Avoid adding raisins and sultanas, as these cause your calcium levels to drop.”
The trust also recommended setting aside clean, fresh water.
Feeders should be placed at least two meters above the ground, and food should not be left on the ground because cats will hunt squirrels, the charity advised.
“We need to encourage reds to forage for themselves in the wild and not become dependent on supplemental feeding,” Fawcett added.
“Pulling out small amounts of food twice a week will ensure that the reds also hunt themselves.”
If there is a mix of red and gray squirrels in your area, the charity recommends not skipping food because it will encourage competition between the two species and the spread of disease.
Similarly, the trust also advised removing feeders if there is an outbreak of squirrel pox in your area and cleaning feeders regularly.
The Great Scottish Squirrel Survey
Ahead of National Red Squirrel Week this month, the public is also being asked to report red and gray squirrel sightings.
Save Scotland’s Red Squirrels, a campaign run by the Scottish Wildlife Trust, is asking walkers to add their sightings to an online map at scottishsquirrels.org.uk
“Red squirrel week is a great time to go out for an autumn walk,” said Victoria Chanin, project officer for the south of Scotland.
“Engaging with nature in this way is highly beneficial to people’s well-being and adding sightings of red and gray squirrels to our online map helps us keep track of squirrel movements in Scotland.”
The Great Scottish Squirrel Study continues throughout the year.
Read more stories on scottish countrysideThe wildlife pages of .
Also, don’t miss Keith Kingland’s arctic tern article on the The deluxe edition of October scottish countryside magazine.