The rare red squirrel on Brownsea Island
Brownsea Island is one of the safest and largest strongholds of red squirrels in the south of England, and a great place to do some spotting.
An endangered species
Red squirrels are an endangered species in the UK due to the loss of their woodland habitat and the introduction of the American grey squirrel.
While both species of squirrel have a similar role in the ecosystem in that they are small woodland mammals that spread the seeds of trees, red squirrels are a particularly important asset in the regeneration of pine woodlands. Reds are specially adapted to feed on the seeds in pine cones and greys tend to favour broadleaf woodland where many other animals can do the job of spreading the seeds, such as birds.
If red squirrels became extinct in the UK, it would not only have a negative impact on our pine woodland regeneration but we would also lose one of our most iconic native mammals.
When to see red squirrels on Brownsea
Red squirrels are most active in spring and autumn, so a visit during those seasons is the most likely to be rewarded with sightings. They're usually spotted during the quieter times of the day, so a good time to spot them is when we first open or later in the afternoon before we close. You could also stay overnight on the campsite and go red squirrel spotting when it’s quieter. Try your luck on the Woodland Walk and don't forget to look up, down and all around.
Where to see them
Red squirrels are most often found in the coniferous woodland areas, feasting on nuts and seeds, or you may find pine cones that have been nibbled, leaving what looks like a nibbled corn on the cob.
Squirrels have been spotted on the woodland walk, near the Church, either posing for photographers or leaping between the oaks. Another good place to try is by the feeders up by the Villa on the Dorset Wildlife Trust managed area.
Walk this way
The Woodland Walk offers a great feasting ground for squirrels, so you'll have a good chance of spotting some here, or in the Dorset Wildlife Trust area where it's a little quieter. Dorset Wildlife Trust manage the island’s wetland areas, including the internationally important lagoon habitat.
For more tips for spotting red squirrels, read the red squirrel spotting tips article at the bottom of this page.
Find out how to spot red squirrels, the best times to see them and how to tell them apart from grey squirrels.
Red squirrels are protected at our places. Discover more about the safe havens we are providing for these fascinating creatures.
Find the best places across England, Wales and Northern Ireland to see the elusive red squirrel. Autumn is a great time to spot them as they gather food ahead of the winter.
Discover how a team from the National Trust support the woodland residents on Brownsea Island, Dorset.
In this article you'll find all you need to know to plan your visit to Brownsea, including how to get here by ferry.