How Did the Gray Squirrel Get to Britain?
It may be hard to believe, but the Grey squirrel is not native to britain. They were introduced here by humans, who found them to strip bark off trees and carry diseases that only kill red squirrels. As such, it’s no wonder they’re so unwelcome in britain. But did you know that they can help humans? Find out more about this furry pest in this article.
Grey squirrels are not native to britain
A large gray squirrel population has crowded the forests of northern England, Wales, and Scotland. The Red squirrel is the only native species of squirrel in Britain, and they are now threatened by the gray. Luckily, the red squirrel has survived thanks to a long history of conservation. Nevertheless, the gray squirrel is not native to Britain, and its population has grown out of control over the last few decades. The Wildlife Trust of Wales has even announced plans to cull the greys to protect the native red squirrels.
They were introduced by humans
Despite the fact that grey squirrels were invasive species, they quickly took root in the British landscape. The animals were introduced throughout the country, and took to their new homes like a duck to water and a squirrel to trees. Within 25 years, these new arrivals had colonised 300 square miles between Argyll and Stirlingshire in Scotland. Unlike other invasive species, these new arrivals do not mix or breed well, and thus they pose no threat to native wildlife.
They strip bark from trees
While grey squirrels are not common in North America, they are abundant in the UK. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, eastern gray squirrels were introduced to the UK, and they have since been causing havoc and threatening the biodiversity of the country. They have also been responsible for regional extinctions of red squirrels. While they do not eat nuts or other tree components, squirrels have been known to feed on the sugar-rich phloem in tree bark. However, they do cause considerable damage to trees.
They carry diseases that only kill red squirrels
While the diseases that kill red and grays may not be the same, they do share some of the same traits. The grays are diurnal, have a whitish belly, and a distinctive bushy tail. Their color ranges from yellowish-gray to silvery gray, but they are also found in white, black, and reddish shades. While they may be slightly larger than red squirrels in Western North Carolina, they are much smaller than their cousins, the eastern fox squirrel.
They are an invasive species
There are 2.7 million gray squirrels in Britain, and an estimated 287,000 red squirrels. The latter are native to the United States and Canada, but were introduced to Britain in the 1870s. Despite being invasive, the greys have contributed to the decline of the reds, stripping their bark from trees and oaks. Now, they’re on the government’s list of “near-threatened” species.
They were released in a number of places
In 1892, the first recorded release of Grey squirrels into Scotland occurred. The animals spread rapidly in just 20 years, reaching the eastern shores of Loch Lomond in Stirlingshire by 1915. Within a quarter century, they had established themselves in over 800 square kilometers across Scotland. Today, there are established populations in several areas of the country, including Scotland. If you want to learn more about these animals and their history in Britain, continue reading the following.
They are treated with contraceptives
Contraceptives for gray squirrels are based on the same physiological principles as GonaCon for human use. Both contraceptives target the circulating gonadotropin-releasing hormone. GonaCon is delivered through injection, but the contraceptive agent for gray squirrels is an edible molecule. This demonstrates that there are ethical considerations to fertility control in wildlife. Contraceptives are more effective than lethal control, but there are still concerns about the effects of the treatments on individual animals.
How did the gray squirrel get to Britain?
It is thought that the gray squirrel first arrived in Britain in the late 1870s after being introduced to North America.
Why did people bring the gray squirrel to Britain?
The gray squirrel was introduced to Britain for several reasons including as a source of food and for its fur.
How did the gray squirrel become established in Britain?
The gray squirrel became established in Britain after a number of releases and introductions.
Where is the gray squirrel found in Britain?
The gray squirrel is found throughout mainland Britain.
What kind of habitat does the gray squirrel prefer?
The gray squirrel prefers broadleaf woodlands but can also be found in parks and gardens.
What is the gray squirrel’s diet like?
The gray squirrel’s diet consists mostly of seeds nuts and fruits but it will also eat fungi buds flowers and occasionally insects.
How big is the gray squirrel?
The gray squirrel is around 24-30cm long with a tail that is around 15-20cm long.
What is the gray squirrel’s life span?
The gray squirrel can live for up to 9 years in the wild and up to 16 years in captivity.
How many young does the gray squirrel have?
The gray squirrel usually has two litters per year each consisting of 2-5 young.
What is the main threat to the gray squirrel?
The main threat to the gray squirrel is the red squirrel which competes for food and habitat.
What is being done to protect the gray squirrel?
A number of measures have been put in place to protect the gray squirrel including the creation of nature reserves.
What is the gray squirrel’s conservation status?
The gray squirrel is classed as least concern by the IUCN.
What do you think the future holds for the gray squirrel?
The gray squirrel is likely to continue to be a popular sight in Britain due to the measures that have been put in place to protect it.
What else do you think people should know about the gray squirrel?
The gray squirrel is a non-native species in Britain and as such it is important to be aware of the potential impact that it can have on the environment.
What do you think is the most important thing to remember about the gray squirrel?
The most important thing to remember about the gray squirrel is that it is a non-native species and as such it is important to be aware of the potential impact that it can have on the environment.
Jessica Watson is a PHD holder from the University of Washington. She studied behavior and interaction between squirrels and has presented her research in several wildlife conferences including TWS Annual Conference in Winnipeg.