How the Allan Bank red squirrels prepare for winter
Once a popular sight in England and across the UK, and the UK’s only native squirrel species, the red squirrel is now suffering a major decline. Since the introduction of the North American grey squirrel in the 1870’s as an ornamental species, numbers of red squirrels have dropped from around three and a half million to an estimated 120,000. It’s thought that there are around 15,000 red squirrels in England, and happily some of those call Allan Bank and Grasmere their home.
Allan Bank is a great place to see our native red squirrels. So many visitors have loved being able to follow the comings and goings of these adorable little animals. You can use our binoculars in the Study to spot one of them on the feeders outside or you could take a stroll along the garden path to see if you can catch sight of one along the way.
As the cold weather approaches, the squirrels begin to adapt – they’ll collect more moss, twigs, bark and dry leaves to build a bigger and warmer drey that will last the winter; eating as much as they can so that they put on fat reserves, and growing a thicker coat to keep them warm as temperatures drop. Squirrels don’t hibernate through the winter but they do love their sleep, using their fluffy tails as a blanket!
Squirrels naturally eat green acorns, seeds, nuts and pine cones; in the autumn they cut green pine cones from trees and store them in the ground for winter feed. At Allan Bank we supplement our red squirrels’ diet by putting out a small quantity of monkey nuts and sunflower seeds every morning into our special squirrel feeders. This helps us to monitor the population and keep an eye out for any sick or injured squirrels – and also means that you’re much more likely to see one!
We work hard alongside the Grasmere Red Squirrel Group to make the grounds at Allan Bank their ideal home, spending over £900.00 on feed every year.
It's through your support that the conservation work of the Grasmere Red Squirrel Group can continue. If you are interested in supporting this vital work to keep the red squirrels of Grasmere safe you can help by donating online through our Lakes Red Squirrel Appeal page.
Every penny we raise through this page we commit directly to pay for work of the Squirrel Ranger throughout National Trust woodlands in Grasmere.
Thank you for your support.