Looking after red squirrels

View of a foraging red squirrel

The places we care for offer red squirrels a safe place to roam. Your support allows us to carry out vital conservation work needed to protect these fascinating creatures.

It's not always easy being a red squirrel. During the last few hundred years red squirrel populations have fallen. This is largely because of the loss of woodlands and the introduction of non-native grey squirrels in the 19th century. Since then grey squirrels have overtaken red squirrels throughout much of southern England and Wales. Red squirrels are also vulnerable to disease and the loss of woodland habitat.

But thanks to the help of our volunteers and your support we've been able to look after red squirrels at the places we care for. 

Red squirrel with nut at Allan Bank, Cumbria
Red squirrel with nut at Allan Bank, Cumbria
Red squirrel with nut at Allan Bank, Cumbria

Keeping red squirrels healthy 

Grey squirrels also carry the squirrel pox virus and while they are mostly immune, reds have little or no immunity and can suffer badly when exposed.

A previous outbreak of the virus at the Red Squirrel Reserve at Formby Point affected 70 per cent of the squirrels living there.

'Thankfully, the population has now recovered and there is also evidence that at least some of the red squirrels there have developed some immunity to the virus,' says David Bullock, the National Trust's former head of conservation. 

'Our staff and volunteers, together with many people in local communities, keep a sharp eye out for grey squirrels that might be trying to enter the Red Squirrel Reserve.'


Havens for red squirrels
A red squirrel on Brownsea Island, Poole Harbour, Dorset

Brownsea Island, Dorset

This peaceful island off Poole Harbour in Dorset provides a safe home for red squirrels. This wildlife-rich haven is also full of pine trees, which provide the squirrel’s main source of food – the seeds from the pine cones.

A path through woodland

Wallington, Northumberland

With its vast areas of woodland and wildlife hide, Wallington is the perfect place for red squirrels. When you can visit safely again look out for them from the wildlife hide.

 Red squirrel in a tree

Formby, Liverpool

Red squirrels form part of Formby’s rare wildlife. We keep a close eye on the red squirrel population on this dramatic stretch of coastline. Our rangers are pleased to report that the squirrels are showing signs of resistance to the squirrel pox virus despite a number of confirmed cases in the autumn.