|Red Squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris)
The Red Squirrel is distributed throughout most of Europe and Asia. They belong to the group of squirrels known as tree squirrels. Squirrels are rodents and like all rodents use their front teeth for gnawing.
It is only in Britain and northern Italy that the Red Squirrel is declining and both these areas have been subject to the release of American Grey Squirrel Sciurus carolinensis.
The Grey Squirrel was introduced to Britain in the late 19th century and it occupies the same ecological niche as the Red Squirrel both living in woodland and both eating nuts, berries and tree seeds. Grey Squirrels being larger are better adapted to digesting large seeds and nuts such as acorns and so have benefited at the expense of red squirrels in the broad-leaved woodlands of southern Britain while the Red Squirrel is managing to survive in the coniferous woodlands of northern Britain.
|At the same time, there is a parapox virus which is carried and tolerated by Grey Squirrels but is fatal to Red Squirrels.|