little chap isn't he, but if he gets into your roof space he will cause
mayhem. The grey squirrel is larger than the red, usually about 10 inches
long with a large bushy tail 8 inches long. In winter the coat is pale
grey with longer fur than in summer. Occasionally black individuals
turn up. Greys began appearing in the countryside between 1876 and 1929,
having been released deliberately or accidentally from a number of centres,
especially London Zoo and Woburn Park in Bedfordshire. They have now
invaded every county of England, except for much of East Anglia and
Cornwall, and are established in central Scotland and central Ireland.
So far the greys have not reached the Isle of Wight.
Body 260mm Tail 215mm
Mixed broadleaf/conifer woodland usually containing beech and
gardens, fields away from woods, also mature conifers.
early morning and late afternoon all year.
territorial up to 5-7 per hectare.
Food: Buds,shoots,ripe and unripe fruits,nuts,bulbs,seeds,(peas,beans,maize,wheat),eggs
and young of both songbirds and gamebirds.
damage is greatest during the months of May to July, particular
damage to sycamore and beech which are about 10-40 years old.
Less than 5% killed.
to January and then again May to June.
litter size can be 1-5
can have 1-2 litters per year.
life span of the female is between 4-6 years.
life span of the male is between 2-3 years.
rate is about 75% per annum.
squirrels have survived repeated Government-sanctioned attempts at extermination
by shooting, trapping and poisoning. Greys do considerable damage to
trees when present in large numbers. They attack trees in early summer
gnawing at the main stem, seeking the sweet, sappy layers immediately
beneath the bark. Sometimes the tree is completely ringed and as a consequence
will die. If it doesn't die then it will usually be checked or spoilt.
It is now illegal to import a grey squirrel or keep one as a pet. They
will adapt to any area covered by trees, whether broad leaved or conifer,
with an average density of about 5 per acre. Greys will live in suburban
parks and gardens, becoming tame enough to feed from the hand.
squirrels nest is called a drey and is made up of a ball of twigs, often
with leaves attached, and lined with grass, moss and fur. Summer dreys
are attached to branches, but breeding and winter dreys may be inside
a hollow tree. There are two breeding seasons, as mentioned above, resulting
in offspring called "kittens". Both reds and greys keep to
well defined runways along tree branches in their territory. Due to
their food preferences above and the fact that they store surplus food
which they do so by burying it makes squirrels a useful vector in seed
dispersal and tree planting.
are various methods of control but all must be used in conjunction with
proofing in the case of infestation into domestic premises:
there is proofing itself.
of cage traps
of spring traps.
is self explanatory it is no earthly good trying to trap or bait squirrels
when there are numerous entrances for their brothers and cousins to
use at a later date.
there are only a couple of squirrels bombing around the loft in question
then a single type of catch trap can be used. If however there are numerous
squirrels it is better to use the multiple type of cage trap which will
hold up to six squirrels. I am not going into the intricacies of trapping
procedure, suffice to say that the best bait to use is maize. We might
as well cover the legal aspects at this juncture:
Protection of Animals Act 1911.
Squirrel (warfarin order) 1973.
Life and Countryside Act 1981.
of Pesticides Regulations 1986.
Imported Animals Act 1932.
about all the ins and outs of all the laws involved as there are quite
a few, any pest controller who reads this page and is going to undertake
squirrel control must make sure that he/she is well informed. Ideally
it would be advisable to have attended a Vertebrate Management Course,
which not only teaches biology but legislation and control procedures.
Just for an example, under the Destructive Imported Animals Act 1932,
if you catch a grey squirrel it is illegal to let it go again. These
regulations go on and on.
are traps which when the squirrel takes the bait will kill. These are
only usable by professionals and are extremely humane. Again they are
baited with maize.
are many many regulations covering this aspect of control and rules
applicable in England are not always relevant in Scotland and vice versa.
This aspect of control is mostly used by the Forestry Commision
and other similar bodies.
not normally carried out by pest control companies but by the bodies
mentioned above. Drey poking is removal of the nests with long poles.
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