Original Author: Steve Willis, Project Officer Northeast Scotland
Do you regularly feed red squirrels? Read on for a few top tips on best practise from the team at SSRS.
Everyone loves seeing red squirrels, and countless lucky souls across Scotland are in the enviable position of having red squirrels visit their gardens on a regular basis. They are usually attracted to gardens by the promise of pinching food put out for birds, or in some cases by specific food (and feeders) put out for the squirrels.
There are a few things to be aware if you are going to feed red squirrels, so that the supplementary feeding doesn’t inadvertently harm the squirrels.
- Feed them natural food – peanuts, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, the list goes on. Basically the more varied the seeds and nuts the better.
- Add in some healthy stuff like apple and carrot now and again – they need their vitamins and minerals too!
- Get hold of a piece of deer antler and fix this to a tree. This will be nibbled away by the squirrels as it is a fantastic source of calcium. No one ever believes us about this, but it’s true!
- Keep all feeders clean! The last thing you want is for squirrels to be picking up diseases from your feeders. Use the same broad spectrum disinfectants widely available for cleaning bird feeders.
- Feed all year. Summer is actually the time when there is least natural food for squirrels, so don’t just feed in winter.
- Report your sightings to us!
- Feed grey squirrels. The last thing we need is to give the non-native grey a helping hand.
- Encourage reds to cross a busy road to get to your feeders. This is a big issue, better leave them to fend for themselves than increase their chance of getting hit on the road.
- Feed them just peanuts. If they eat too many peanuts they can end up with calcium deficiency (see above for tips on providing calcium).
Enjoy your red squirrels folks! They are great fun to watch, and if you have them in your garden count yourself very lucky indeed!