Seasonal Squirrels Part 1: Spring!


Spring is an exciting time for our beloved red squirrels! From playful courtships in the trees to adorable new-born kits taking their first steps in the world, these furry creatures are busy as bees during the season of transformation. Want to know more about the behaviour of red squirrels in spring? Here’s a guide to everything you need to know!

Red Squirrel Spring Moult (c) Ian Skinner
Coat Changes

During the spring months red squirrels gradually shed their thicker winter coats, along with their endearing distinctive ear tufts. In recent years it has been observed that some reds are shedding their winter coats before the cooler shorter summer one grows in, resulting in some not-so-stylish bald patches April-June time! Never fear, if you see such a balding squirrel in your garden and it is eating and moving normally it is most likely healthy – just waiting for the summer outfit to grow in!


Spring marks the beginning of the breeding season, with squirrels already out and about as early as January and into the spring to engage in ‘mating chases’, where multiple males chase fertile females (only fertile for one day during their cycle) across the ground, around tree trunks, and through branches. It can be noisy, so keep your ears tuned for sounds of scrabbling claws, as well as chirping and calling!


The exterior of breeding dreys resembles an untidy ball of sticks, however the interior boasts a soft lining of mosses, leaves and grasses. Breeding dreys tend to be fairly large, around the size of a football, and are most often situated in a forked branch, supported against the trunk, around 6 -12m above the ground. Watch out for squirrels carrying large mouthfuls soft lining materials, as they prepare their dreys to provide a cosy home for young kits.

Stirling Squirrel Kit (c) Alex Elliott

From February onwards, litters of tiny and adorable baby squirrels (kits) are born. A litter typically consists of three or four blind and hairless kits, relying entirely on their mother for survival. After 10-12 weeks from mid-April the kits are weaned and gradually start venturing out on short adventures into the big bad world, taking their first steps on the forest floor, and sticking close to their drey and their siblings. Keep your eyes out for these cute little mini squirrels with bushy tails and visit our website to record your sightings! With the first litter being weaned, females become fertile again and the months of May and June are a great time to see mating chases for second broods.

Foraging and Feeding

A red squirrels’ diet is surprisingly varied, they are not only the consumers of pine cones! In spring, when their autumn and winter diet of fresh cones and nuts is sparse, red squirrels take advantage of bulbs, fresh foliage, buds, tree flowers, and early fruits of the season. They may even occasionally eat insects and birds eggs to supplement their diet.


Red squirrels are diurnal creatures, meaning they are most active during the day, foraging for food and seeking out mating partners. Their sharp claws help them navigate the canopy of trees swiftly, escaping potential predators and accessing food sources efficiently. If you want to catch a glimpse of a red squirrel, early spring mornings are a good place to start!

Spring is a captivating time for our little red squirrels, and a perfect time to head out to see if you can spot one. Keep your eyes open for young kits finding their way in the world and for adult squirrels chasing each other and foraging for food and nesting materials.

Make sure you report any sightings of red squirrels, especially families! You can report the maximum number of red squirrel squirrels seen at any one time 2-3 times a year, here: 


Rebecca Bradley (SSRS Office & Comms Volunteer)
Katie Berry (SSRS Communications & Engagement Officer)

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