Red Squirrel or native red squirrel

Many guests come to see a red squirrel at Squirrel Cottage, they are entertain for many hours. Please not these are wild animals like all wildlife there are no guarantees, we suggest you look below for when the squirrels are most likely to be around.

In addition to the red squirrels there is a whole host of wildlife. The bedroom window has a bird feeder and wildlife pond directly outside it, with squirrel feeders slightly further away. The one-way film on the bedroom window allows guests to get very close to the wildlife including the squirrels.

Our native red squirrel

A red squirrel at the peanut feederThe local red squirrel populations numbers between 14 to 17 red squirrels at Squirrel Cottage. The numbers do fluctuate slightly year to year. We can say this as a young lady staying at Squirrel Cottage identified and named the squirrels thereby being able to recognise and count them over a period of three consecutive yearly visits.

Each squirrel was identified by its distinct features, each was given a name along with its characteristics. The details are still there for guests to read and enjoy. The descriptions are lovely, thank you Rebz.

Generally the Squirrel Cottage feeders are busy from Christmas though to September each year. The squirrels usually disappear during late August when the natural food sources begin to appear. At this time they can be see climbing the hazel trees in the surrounding woodland and garden.

The length of time the squirrels are away from the feeders depends on the supply of natural food available. If there has been a good crop the squirrels do not need the feeders until Christmas. If it is one of those years where the late frosts destroy the year’s crop of tree nuts, the squirrels hardly disappear at all.

Usually Christmas on wards there are high numbers of red squirrels at the feeders. As with all wild animals you cannot guarantee anything, they are wild and choose when to appear at the feeders.

What do they eat?

Red squirrel hangs upside down at the bird feedersThe squirrel natural food consists of tree nuts, hazel, beach, pine seeds, but they will eat almost anything including shoots, buds in spring, Berries, fungi along with tree nuts in the autumn. Bark and lichen over the winter and early spring.

They can store little body fat, so need to eat regularly, spending up to 80% of their time searching for food.

Squirrel feeder food we provide consists of sunflower and peanuts. Also calcium in the form of a red deer’s antler. Cuttlefish can also be a good source of calcium for squirrels at feeders. There are times when we are sure our feeders are supporting the whole local squirrel population as the feeders require topping up daily.

How do they survive in winter snow?

Red squirrel in the snow foraging for stored foodAs with all small mammals in winter, the battle is to keep warm and how they find food is crucial to their survival. Red Squirrels do not hibernate, as some people think. They grow a thick deep red winter coat, with large tufts on their ears and very bushy tails, all helping it to keep warm in its drey.

The choice they face is whether to go out from the shelter of their drey. By going out they are using valuable energy reserves to find food, whether they find enough is literally a matter of life or death. The Squirrel Cottage feeders help support the local resident red squirrel population, guests will often see them at the feeders, even during a snow storm.

A Red Squirrel Description

Red squirrels spend most of the time in the tree tops and occasionally will be seen on the ground searching for or burying nuts.

They are solitary animals that will occupy a range shared with other red squirrels. They are most active in the mornings and early evenings.

Red Squirrel life span

A red squirrel in a typical pose with its tail over its back

They have a life span up to 7 years. They do not hibernate, during winter months, so need to feed and gather excess food which they hide away underneath the soil for their winter store.

Male and female red squirrels

The male and female red squirrels look alike. It is not possible to identify their sex by looking at them.

A red squirrel in one of the trees outside Squirrel Cottage PitlochryFemale red squirrels give birth anytime from December through to June. They usually have one litter a year consisting of 3 to 6 naked, toothless young. They are milk fed for 6 to 8 weeks, after which they leave the drey and are independent. Research shows that up to 80% of the young squirrels do not survive the first winter. A terrible statistic.

By having food readily available we hope we are helping some squirrels to survive when they otherwise would not. The feeders operate by the squirrels lifting the lid to reach the peanuts or sunflower seeds. They often sit on the feeder ledge and munch away, regularly reaching back in for more. Occasionally one decides to get in to the feeder with the nuts or sunflower seeds. This causes great amusement for the guests when another unsuspecting squirrel turns up.

The squirrels are not choosy deciding on occasions that the bird feeders are more interesting. Squirrel Cottage is ideal if you are looking for a red squirrel holiday.