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Squirrel Conservation

Selected Projects > Pensthorpe Nature Reserve & Gardens

The Red Squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) used to be Britain's only wild Squirrel and a common sight across the country. Red squirrels are now one of the most endangered species in the UK, the main cause of this dramatic decline being the release of the Grey Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) in the 19th century. There is significant evidence that grey squirrels are involoved in spreading the squirrel 'parapox' virus into the red squirrel population, as well as competing for food and nesting sites.

The Pensthorpe Conservation Trust ( works closely with the East Anglia Red Squirrel Trust and sends surplus animals to Anglesey each year, where they are released into the wild as part of a coordinated effort to reinforce the declining local population, following the eradication of grey squirrels.

A captive breeding facility and new Red Squirrel enclosures have been built with overhead runs, allowing more natural behaviour patterns, which in turn will make the transition to the release site at Anglesey less stressful. The new enclosures also have particular benefits during the breeding season, where pairs can first be introduced to each other and then isolated from other pairs following pair-bonding.

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