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Are there still red squirrels in Formby?

1 year ago

By Chris Grundy

Are there still red squirrels in Formby?

The National Trust’s Freshfield Reserve is famous for its red squirrels which are accustomed to being approached and fed, and they’re also very tame.

The red squirrel is native to Britain but due, in-part, to the American grey squirrel it is being forced out of its natural habitat. 

During winter months you are able witness red squirrels courting. These little critters that inhabit the Formby pine forest look their best in winter when their fur is at its most red, during the spring months its coat is more likely to be a dark brownish-black colour. Their tails are extra bushy and their pointy ears have distinctive tufts of long hair.

Red Squirrel

As we are aware, the North American Grey Squirrel has caused a decline in red squirrels, sharing a disease, which is fatal to the Red Squirrel, while producing no symptoms in its grey cousin. 

According to National Trust, in 2007: “the deadly squirrel pox virus reached the Formby area, wiping out around 80% of the red squirrel population. A hard winter further reduced the population to only 15% of the pre-pox level.”

However the population recovered, and was recorded at the time to revert back to approximately 85% of the levels that were recorded in spring 2002.

Red Squirrel

But spotting a Red Squirrel in Formby is becoming a rare occurrence, even with the efforts of Freshfield Reserve, Merseyside and Lancashire Red Squirrel Trust and the National Trust. Many guests who have recently visited the reserve have taken to TripAdvisor stating they were disappointed to not see a single one!

The Trust have said recently that it seems they are still recovering from a recent squirrel pox outbreak in 2019, and have confirmed that there has been an increase in red squirrels sighted across Ainsdale. However, they also mentioned an increase in grey squirrels across the reserve.

You can check out more info on how you can visit the red squirrel reserve here

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