Grey squirrels - a real pest in Henley on Thames.
Posted on 14th November 2019 at 18:58
I’m sure everyone is familiar with the grey squirrel? A frequent visitor to most urban gardens its completely undeniable that the grey has a charming personality. However, there is a darker side to the grey squirrel and its unfortunate, but the grey is as much a victim as its counterparts the native red squirrel.
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The grey squirrel is an American species bought over in the late 19th Century as curiosity for large estates, without predators in the UK the grey squirrel number’s boomed and they are now found over all of England and Wales and slowly colonizing Scotland. This animal has a reputation of being a pest because its population growth is out of control and it has virtually wiped out the red squirrel along the way.
Due to the list of negative impacts that the greys have had on forestry, small bird numbers and our native species the red squirrel they are now classed as an invasive non-native species – what does this mean?
What it means is that you are allowed to trap the squirrels, but you must dispatch them in a humane manner rather than release them elsewhere. This means that the only control for grey squirrels is culling them, which is what we do, you can use air powered weapons or spring traps that have been approved for use on squirrels.
For more information on the list of non-native species click this link to visit the:
The option of live catching and releasing in nearby woodland is not on and you could face prosecution as landowners don’t want the greys because of the damage they do by ring stripping trees.
Ring stripping is where grey squirrels will gnaw the bark of a tree to feed on the tender cambium layer that holds the sweet sap, this causes tree’s to die from fungal infection or by not being able to pass these sugars from the roots up the stem; tree’s about 10 to 40 years old are most at risk.
More information on the damage and threat posed by the grey squirrels on our woodlands can be found at:
The grey squirrel population is estimated at around 2.7 million animals and they are widely established across the UK with an absence on Brownsea Island and in the north of Scotland. One of the success of grey squirrels is that they do not suffer from tannin poisoning; tannin is a chemical found in un-ripened acorns.
Where the red squirrel will suffer from the effects and have to wait for the acorns to become fully ripe, the grey can eat away and suffer no effect. Well the term ‘squirrely’ means someone who is very nervous, sensitive, strange or unpredictable and this is coined from the effect’s tannin has on grey squirrels – after eating they become ‘squirrely’.
This has seen the red squirrels being out maneuvered in broadleaf woodland and being pushed into conifer forests where the smaller fir cone seeds are ideally suited for the smaller reds; as well as competition for food the greys carry a virus called squirrel pox. Squirrel pox is usually fatal in the red squirrels, the animals develop skin ulcers and lesions and become lethargic, dying a painful death about two weeks after infection. If taken to a vet in the early stages, they maybe saved but success in these treatments is very rare.
Information on squirrel pox can be found at the website for:
We find that squirrels will look to enter lofts as shelter for either birthing or during the autumn and winter, their natural habitat is woodland but with a rapidly growing population we see more urban infestations. The grey squirrel has two separate breeding seasons just like the reds however when stressed red squirrels do not breed so in areas where the two species mix, we will see a steady onward decline in the red squirrel populations.
It is legal to use rodenticide on the grey squirrels; we have seen these poisons approved, banned and approved again however we will not use poison on squirrels. We are of the opinion that its bad enough having rodents like the grey squirrel living in your home with you due to the noise and damage but then to have a dead one rotting away inside the loft is worse.
We trap the animals and when we’ve caught your squirrel we will seal up the entrance hole, we will continue to trap to push the population back , we cannot stop the greys but we can at least take out some of their number to leave you in peace for longer.
Maps showing the populations of both red and grey squirrels in the UK by Craig Shuttleworth and the Red Squirrel Survival Trust.
Tagged as: Squirrels
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