American grey squirrels were first brought to The British Isles in the 1870's. It was thought that they would make an interesting addition to the wildlife found on some of our great country estates. What a dumb idea that was! These grey squirrels have now spread throughout the kingdom taking over territory that was once the preserve of our native red squirrels.
It is estimated that there are now around three million grey squirrels in the British Isles while the population of our smaller, shyer red squirrel has shrunk to around 160,000. What were our forebears thinking about - meddling with Nature? They did similar dumb things in Australia, New Zealand and North America too.
Anyway, our suburban garden has been largely free of grey squirrels for the past thirty years. There have been one or two intermittent sightings but the creatures have not been a bother. However, recently we seem to be seeing one particular grey squirrel quite frequently.
He is called Steve - Steve the Squirrel - and he is both daring and inquisitive. He darts about with his bushy tail following him and sometimes he can be seen stealing bird food from our feeding stations.
Yesterday I was making my meagre lunch with a mug of coffee when I spotted something moving on the wooden railing of our lower decking. It was Steve and his beady black eyes seemed to be looking my way.
Nonetheless, I slunk off to grab my camera and managed to snap several pictures of the little fellow before he skipped away. The photographs were taken through glass as I knew that if I opened our back door, Steve would be off like **** from a shovel.
If I had a squirrel trap I would gladly capture Steve and then transport him to some distant location - out in the countryside or under the trees in our local park where he would no doubt make friends and frolic with some of the urban squirrels who live down there - Sammy, Simon, Sidney, Susan, Sigourney and Shirley. A more cruel blogger than I might happily skin Steve and turn him into a furry muff for wintertime.
Scotland still has 160000 red squirells. Marhmatical mapping, grey squirell culling and tree breaks preventing grey,s fron spreading fron the lowlands to highlands so far.ReplyDelete
There are estimated to be only 160,000 red squirrels remaining in the UK as a whole, 75% of which are in Scotland. Without concerted and effective action to protect them, the red squirrels that remain in Scotland could disappear within our lifetime.Delete
Fried squirrel with gravy and rice is not a bad dish.ReplyDelete
So I hear. I've never eaten any.
We have so many squirrels. We live and let live. Their antics and chatter are part of my life. But I would NOT like it if they were pushing out another native species. Not one bit.
They are cute creatures but I think we should round up all of our grey squirrels and ship them back to North America. As there is so much empty property in Detroit, they could live there. Motown would become Squitown.Delete
It is a really dumb idea to mess with nature. That being said, grey squirrels are vegans. Their meat is very clean and quite tasty. But you'd need quite a few of them for a decent muff.ReplyDelete
One squirrel would provide enough fur for a small child's muff Lisa!Delete
But if you were to transport Steve the squirrel to a place where there are other squirrels, you'd be contributing to a population increase (assuming some of those others are girl squirrels, which, judging from their names, they are!) ...ReplyDelete
Steve might not recognize his Canadian gray cousin - ours are completely gray, and darker at some times of the year.
Your post prompted me to read more, and I found that the reason your red squirrels are being outnumbered by grays is that the grays spread a virus to which they themselves are immune but the reds are not. It's often ruddy hard being one of Mother Nature's children.
Would you like to be my research assistant Jenny? Regarding your first point, it is possible that Steve is gay.Delete
I guess it was pay-back by those who were put out by those who infiltrated North America without waiting for the welcome mat to be put out.ReplyDelete
We don't have squirrels of any colour here in the Land of Oz. Rabbits and foxes were introduced, though. The rabbit over-population was solved; and foxes are a problem in many areas, against native wildlife and livestock. Deer were introduced to Australia from Europe in the 19th century. They've become a major pest in some areas, too.
The story of the Great Australian Rabbit Fence is legendary.Delete
It's tragic that the native species has been harmed. Now with globalization we have all kinds plants that hitch a ride.ReplyDelete
I feel especially sorry for New Zealand. It was like The Garden of Eden... until human beings interfered.Delete
We used to have a visiting squirrel when we lived in Wiltshire. He was called Kevin.ReplyDelete
Was he Irish?Delete
I don't know, he certainly didn't have an Irish accent.Delete
It's always the same when our species thinks they can introduce another species to where it is not native, plants and animals alike.ReplyDelete
Here in Germany, the accidental introduction of certain species of river crabs is a problem. They are not native to our rivers and lakes but thrive here, to the detriment of native species of crabs, fish and other water life.
Steve probably considers himself a true native Yorkshire squirrel - he must be the umpteenth generation after his ancestors' introduction to the UK.
I don't think he is a proper Yorkshire squirrel as he wasn't wearing a flat cap!Delete
We get them in the garden all the time......they have already started pulling the unripe hazel nuts off the tree ! The dog goes " nuts" when he sees them on the lawn, and gallops down the garden when I let him out. Needless to say he hasn't caught one yet!ReplyDelete
If he catches one you will be able to make a nice squirrel stew.Delete
We don't have any squirrels over here, grey or red. No foxes either. Perhaps they can't swim?ReplyDelete
Perhaps they don't like kippers!Delete
Is he related to Grace - Grace Quirrell?ReplyDelete
Well, the squirrel is a lot more charming to look at than the Northern Snakehead--an invasive species introduced into the Chesapeake Bay a few decades ago. "Described by the Washington Post as "one ugly fish" and "looking like a weird cross" of a Burmese python, a barracuda and an electric eel." Come to think of it, a good descriptor of some politicos in nearby Washington, DC. Just add orange colouring. Now that IS an invasive species doing harm to the environment.ReplyDelete
Ha-ha! Nice connection Mary! Let's hope that for your safety the CIA are not tracking this blog!Delete
Makes me think of this.. https://youtu.be/XgvR3y5JCXg Alan, Alan, Alan, Alan....Steve!ReplyDelete
Ha-ha! Thanks for the link Steph. Very funny.Delete
I don't understand how Bo and Peep can stand there so nonchalantly with Steve the Invader so close at hand. At least he isn't Vlad the Impaler.ReplyDelete
Steve and all his cousins in the park must be descended from the original pair, Sam and Alice Scurrier, who were transported to the U.K. by a well-meaning Yank as a gift for Queen Victoria just after her Golden Jubilee. The 1870s were a time of great gift-giving: France gave us the Statue of Liberty and we gave you Sam and Alice.
Same thing happens here. When I was a boy I used to see armadilloes rambling about in Texas. They cannot swim, but now they are east of the Mississippi River in our country, brought over the bridge at Memphis by some well-meaning but stupid tourist.
I bet it was the 45th President who did that.Delete
But look how fine and fit and ATTRACTIVE Steve is!!ReplyDelete
Seriously, I am no fan of squirrels myself so I feel your pain. I wouldn't want to kill them, but I wish they weren't so prolific and weren't so fond of digging up garden plants. I don't know whether the red ones make a habit of that, but the gray ones in our garden are little terrorists.
Fit and attractive? He looks plump to me. Our Steve likes to pick up pieces of pottery and broken bottles which he takes back to his dray. Red squirrels are very much shy country dwellers but they can zip around like lightning.Delete
Note to Neil: Red is from Canada, not New Zealand. Apparently you have him confused with Graham. Or Kate.ReplyDelete
I realise that Red (aka Keith) is from Canada but he is capable of thinking about other countries too! Occasionally he even thinks about the good old USA where his daughter dwells.Delete
I revile the gray squirrel! They don't belong here at all. I spent one summer of my college years working on Lake George. I had a straw purse that I took to work and one day I put a PB&J sandwich in it to have for lunch, put it on a shelf in the wooden building where I spent my days helping people who wanted to swim or boat on the lake. Went to get my lunch and, yep, you guessed it. Damn squirrel had eaten through the purse and got my sandwich!!!ReplyDelete
Apart from the squirrel, that sounds like it was a damned good job. If only all jobs could be like that... reading a novel in the hut while looking over the still waters of Lake George and daydreaming about where your life might lead.Delete
I'm a sucker for squirrels. They're fast and fierce, always shouting out their warnings when you get to close to their tree. I know they make a mess and cause problems but I think I like them because they're so small and so tough.ReplyDelete
Introducing new species into a country is beyond stupid but I guess we only know that now because it was done in the past and we can see the havoc it has wrecked on the indigenous species.