Family Sciuridae (Squirrels) » Sciurus carolinensis Gmelin, 1788
Head & body length 24-28 cm. Tail length 19-24 cm. As the name suggests, the Grey Squirrel mainly has grey fur, but it can also have a reddish tinge to it. It has a white underside and a large bushy tail from which it gets its genus name from. It may be confused with the Red Squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris), which is smaller, has bright chestnut fur and has become the rarer of the 2 species. It builds a drey (squirrel nest) in a tree, although it also nests in roofs in towns. The female has 2 litters a year, producing up to 7 young on each occasion. It can live for up to 9 years. Its favourite food is hazelnuts and acorns, but also eats unripe cones from which it extracts the seeds. Food stores are built up in the autumn so it can eat during the winter months as it does not hibernate. Also known for raiding bird tables and feeders in gardens for peanuts and seeds. Seen throughout the year in woodland of all types, garden and parks. Originally a native species of the United States, and was introduced into Britain in the late 19th century and has now replaced the native Red Squirrel throughout most of England and Wales. It is common and widespread throughout much of lowland Britain. The Grey Squirrel is considered quite a pest by many, and it can cause severe damage to trees by stripping the bark to feed off the sap beneath.
Discovered in back garden and local woods, South Staffordshire. Photos © Peter Hillman.