In many ways, your first stop is one of The Reserve’s most exciting – to reintroduce an endangered species is a wonderful achievement!
Highland Region is the only part of mainland Britain with red squirrels but no grey squirrels. Elsewhere, red squirrel numbers have crashed and they are on the Red Watch list as an endangered species. In part, this is because the introduced American grey out-competes with the smaller red. Red squirrels were themselves re-introduced to Scotland in the late 1800s after an earlier, catastrophic population crash.
For our first few years here on the Reserve we never saw a Red Squirrel. As our restoration work continued we started to pick up a very occasional sighting on our SpyCams and after further planting of native trees and the erection of feeding stations and nesting boxes we now catch a glimpse most days – witnessed by the regular posts on the Reserve’s Facebook page.
Red squirrels have been part of the Scottish landscape for thousands of years but some of the following facts and figures may surprise you. How well do you know Scotland’s only native squirrel species?
- Tree cover in Scotland used to be so extensive that a red squirrel could have travelled from one side of the country to the other without touching the ground.
- Only around 75,000 red squirrels are left in Scotland. That’s half the number of grey squirrels.
- Contrary to popular myth, red squirrels don’t hibernate.
- Squirrels can be either right or left handed. We can tell this by looking at the teeth marks left behind in pine cones once they’ve been eaten.
- A red squirrel’s tail is particularly important. They are used for balance, communication, as an aerofoil when jumping and as a cosy blanket!
- Reds use their tufty ears to help express how they’re feeling – a bit like a dog.
- Squirrels can jump more than 2m.
- Squirrels can survive a fall of more than 12m without injury.
- A squirrel can tell a nut is rotten even without opening it.
As you follow the trail and connect with the other INFO points you will understand more about what we do and the results we have achieved. Please be aware there are more signs that INFO points.