Saving Scotland's Red Squirrels

Did you know?

Red squirrels have been part of the Scottish landscape for thousands of years but some of the following facts and figures may surprise you. How well do you know Scotland's only native squirrel species?

  • Tree cover in Scotland used to be so extensive that a red squirrel could have travelled from one side of the country to the other without touching the ground.
  • Only 120,000 red squirrels are left in Scotland. That’s half the number of grey squirrels.
  • Contrary to popular myth, red squirrels don’t hibernate.
  • Squirrels can be either right or left handed. We can tell this by looking at the teeth marks left behind in pine cones once they’ve been eaten.
  • Red squirrels have trouble digesting acorns, unlike grey squirrels who love them!
  • Cinderella’s glass (verre in French) slippers were actually made of red squirrel pelts (vaire) in the original fairytale.
  • A red squirrel’s tail is particularly important. They are used for balance, communication, as an aerofoil when jumping and as a cosy blanket!
  • Reds use their tufty ears to help express how they’re feeling – a bit like a dog.
  • Squirrels keep more than one nest (or drey) at a time in case one gets stolen or blown away. This also makes it more difficult for predators to locate them.
  • Young squirrels have to learn how to open hazelnuts.
  • Squirrels can jump more than 2m.
  • Squirrels can survive a fall of more than 12m without injury.
  • Squirrels have double-jointed ankles to help them go down a tree head-first.
  • Red squirrels can have fur ranging from sandy orange to almost black.
  • Squirrels can find buried food even underneath a layer of snow.
  • A squirrel can tell a nut is rotten even without opening it.
Seen a red or grey squirrel recently? Saving Scotland's Red Squirrels needs your help. Please report your squirrel sighting using our dedicated online sightings page. This will help us get a clear picture of red and grey squirrel distribution across Scotland.

This year's sightings


Project partners 

Scottish Wildlife Trust Forestry Commission Scottish Land and Estates
Scottish Natural Heritage Red Squirrel Survival Trust RSPBHeritage Lottery Fund