The Grey Squirrel was deliberately
introduced to Britain from North America between 1876
and 1929. Since then it has spread
throughout England and Wales. It is mainly a resident of
woodland but it also commonly found in
urban areas where it lives in parks and gardens
wherever there are trees for shelter.
Another species, the Red Squirrel is also found in
Britain, but is much less common.
The Grey Squirrel
An adult Grey Squirrel is around 25cm
long, with a tail length of 22cm. Both sexes are a
similar size. The Grey Squirrels
winter coat is grey above with a white underside, whilst the
summer coat is sorter and brownish
Grey Squirrels are active in the
daytime . They build nests (called dreys) from twigs and
leaves in trees and they may also use
hollow trees for nesting.
They breed twice a year. The first
litters are born in February/March, with the young taking
around 10 weeks to wean. Second
litters are born in June/July and leave the nest in
Grey Squirrels eat a wide range of
food items ranging from nuts, fruit, birds eggs and nestling
birds. In urban gardens much of their
diet comes from food put out for birds (or put for
squirrels) and they can regularly be
seen taking food from bird tables and nut feeders.
Surplus food is often stored for use
at a later date.
Squirrels as Pests
The most serious damage in urban areas
happens when squirrels enter roof spaces of
buildings by climbing walls or jumping
from nearby trees or fences. Once inside they can
chew woodwork and plasterboard, strip
insulation from electrical wiring, tear up fibreglass
insulation. They will also nest in
In parks and woodland, they damage
trees by stripping the bark. This can result in the death
of the tree.
In gardens Squirrels will raid bird
tables and feeders. This is welcomed by some
householders, but causes considerable
annoyance to others. Squirrels will also dig holes in
borders and lawns to bury food.
Where squirrels are entering loft
spaces they can cause damage which means that any
access holes need to be blocked off to
physically stop the squirrel getting in. For example
gaps and entrance holes can be blocked
with tightly wedged wire netting. Any missing roof
tiles or slates should be replaced and
any overhanging tree branches close to you property
that could allow squirrels to access
onto the building should be removed. Proofing must be
strong enough to deter the squirrel,
which can chew through even strong materials, and can
show considerable determination and
ingenuity in order to enter a building. Any proofing
work must be carried out whilst the squirrel(s) are not
in the roof space.