The red squirrel is at risk. Without action it will become extinct in England within a decade. The Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish red squirrel populations are also endangered.
If we do not take urgent steps to address the issue, the red squirrel will disappear from the UK within a generation.
The decline of red squirrels is caused by interaction with grey squirrels.
Greys threaten red populations in two ways:
- Greys carry disease
60% of grey squirrels in England and Wales carry the squirrelpox virus. While they are immune to the virus, it produces deadly disease if spread to red squirrels.
- Greys crowd out the reds
Greys eat seven times more food per hectare than reds. They aggressively compete for food, crowding reds out until eventually only greys are left. Greys eat food before it is ripe enough for reds to eat.
These photos illustrate the devestating effect the squirrelpox virus has on red squirrels.
Photographs by kind permission of Sarah McNeil. Click here for a list of contributors of photographs to the site.
Click here to find out about the work we are supporting to keep English greys and Scottish reds apart.