The Intriguing Life of the British Grey Squirrel

Fluffy, cute and discretely annoying.

On the surface, grey squirrels may appear to have all the characteristics of something cute and fluffy, but while these critters may look nice, their attitude and nature evokes a more sinister side altogether. That’s why at Ames Group we offer a squirrel control service to keep these cute, but widespread pests at bay.

Many may not be aware that grey squirrels are not a native species to the British Isles. They were actually introduced to the UK in the late 19th century and have subsequently become the dominant species across England, Wales and much of Scotland. What divides opinion on these squirrels is the fact that they have been eradicating the much-loved red squirrel as they’ve been spreading across England. They are larger and have a more varied diet than the placid red squirrel. Thus, allowing them to out-compete and rapidly spread at the expense of our native species.

Grey Squirrel’s Habitat

Squirrels dominate woodland areas, this is their natural habitat. They build their nests high up in the trees and are called ‘dreys’. The woods provide ample coverage and protection from predators and their diet is perfectly suited to the area, nuts, fungi, berries, fruit and insects are easily found in the woodlands. They are however, known to steal bird’s eggs and even their young if the opportunity arises, which again raises questions regarding their stereotypically ‘cute’ nature. Squirrels do not hibernate but are known to become dormant during cold weather, preferring to reside in their warm dreys. Grey squirrels are also commonly seen eating on the ground, as opposed to their red cousins who usually remain higher up.

Squirrels in the Garden

Unlike the more boisterous grey squirrel, the red squirrels are shy animals with specialised diets, preferring to remain in the trees, especially coniferous woodland, meaning they are unlikely to visit your average garden. Grey squirrels however, are not fussy, they’ll happily set-up shop in urban areas as their flexible diet and willingness to remain on the ground allows them more freedom and frequent access to your garden. They may even make their home in your garden is a suitable tree, or even tree house is available.

There’s some good news!

You have to admire the tenacity and the courage that grey squirrels have when it comes to finding a home in these built-up urban areas. When nature forces itself into inhospitable areas, it’s intriguing to see how far they’ll go to live their normal lives. Squirrels are naturally very interesting animals to watch, they’re erratic, intelligent and very playful.

…and there’s also some bad news

As mentioned before, grey squirrels are very opportunistic feeders and their varied diet usually leads them into contact with angry gardeners. They can become a huge nuisance, in that they eat all sorts of plant material, which obviously includes flowers, buds and with that comes mess and general annoyance. Both red and grey squirrels also enjoy much of the food we put out for birds, and squirrels can be very destructive, chewing through plastic, metal feeders and causing damage to structures.

What Can We Do About Grey Squirrels?

A popular question that is asked is ‘how do I get rid of grey squirrels?’ and the answer is, you don’t! Grey squirrels are in abundance, it would be like mopping the floor whilst the bath is constantly overflowing. You’d be much better off learning how to cope with them living in your garden as opposed to pointlessly fending them off. If you do remove a family of squirrels from your garden, chances are this will only attract more squirrels, as your garden is now unoccupied. In short, embrace the squirrels!

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