Size: 24-28cm â€“ 19-24cm tail Weight: 400-600g Lifespan: max. 9 years Identification: Grey with some red/brown fur and a large bushy tail. Some individuals are melanistic. General: A very common species introduced from North America in MH the 19th Century. They are responsible for the decline of the native red squirrel both by out-competing them and by bringing squirrel pox (for which reds have no immunity) to the UK. They inhabit most habitats where trees are present, only being absent from very wet areas. They have two litters - one in Drey spring and one in autumn in large tree top nests called dreys. The young are weaned after 8 weeks. They are diurnal - feeding on shoots, bark, seeds and flowers particularly from trees and can be quite destructive. Although mostly herbivorous they will take birdsâ€™ eggs and chicks. They cache food in the autumn to get through the winter, MH marking each cache with scent from cheek patches so they are able to relocate them at a later date. Melanistic form
They have few predators - birds of prey and mustelids are probably the most significant in the countryside and domestic cats in urban areas.
Distribution - UK: Widespread in almost all of England, Wales and Northern Ireland and the central Scottish belt. Many islands in all countries are free of grey squirrels. The population is increasing and their range is spreading. 5