jimmymac2's picture

Red Squirrel in West Sussex

A few days ago I was sitting in a chair against the fence when suddenly I heard a scrabbling behind me. When I looked around I saw a Red Squirrel staring down at me only 30cm from my face! I followed it round the garden into the front garden where it climbed surprisingly well up a monkey puzzle tree and then jump into the neighbouring tree, an Oak. There it sat close to the trunk on a branch for 20 minutes. It might be an escapee from a British wildlife centre 5 miles down the road but it is an awfully long way to walk/climb. I later saw it at the local nature reserve in our village, Hedgecourt Nature Reserve that isn't too far away and easy for it to walk there. The very strange thing is that we live in West Sussex and I'm pretty sure there aren't any Red Squirrels in West Sussex... Until now that is! Is there anything we can do to help and/or any reason it might be here??



Gill Sinclair's picture

Another escapee somewhere

I can't find it, but I recall that there was another out-of-range red squirrel sighting a few months ago and someone suggested that it was probably an escapee from a nearby wildlife centre too.
You've done a useful thing by posting it on iSpot, because iSpot records can be used to track any expansion of a species range. But if it's an isolated individual with no mate I guess the best outlook for it is that it lives out its natural life without getting squashed on a road, catching squirrel pox or otherwise meeting an early demise!

Gill Sinclair
OU Certificate in Contemporary Science
Twitter @Gill_Sinclair

Amadan's picture

I'd agree with Gill

Either an escapee, or a deliberate release. Well-meaning (usually) people are apparently releasing all sorts of species in various areas, because they believe that they were previously resident; or they just think they ought to be there.
Provided that the habitat is right, and the individuals are healthy, this may not always be a bad thing: unfortunately these criteria are not generally well-controlled when it's an unguided individual doing the releasing.