The grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) is an introduced species which is now common throughout most of England. Squirrels are often viewed as an attractive addition to our wildlife and they regularly frequent gardens. However, they may become a nuisance and, where they gain access to buildings, the chewing of materials, including electrical wiring, can cause damage and pose a fire hazard. They also strip bark from trees, which causes serious economic damage in woodlands. Competition for food and habitats with the native red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) has contributed to the decline of the red squirrel.
Grey squirrels are found in a wide range of situations, from urban parks and gardens to rural woodland. They spend part of their time foraging on the ground but are always within easy reach of trees.
Grey squirrels usually have their young either in dreys (nests made of twigs and leaves) or in holes in trees. They will also breed in roof spaces where they may build their nests from loft insulation or other available materials. Grey squirrels do not hibernate but are less active during periods of cold weather.
They normally have two litters each year; the first in February to March and a second in June to July. The litter size averages three to four, and the young are independent at about three months of age. The grey squirrel’s main food supplies of acorns and beech mast vary in abundance from year to year and this has an important influence on breeding success and survival.
Problems in buildings occur mainly where squirrels gain access to roof spaces. In these situations, they may cause damage to electrical wiring, insulation or other materials, and the noise they make can create a nuisance. In such cases our aim is to capture the grey squirrels in the roof space and then humanely despatch them.