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  • Writer's pictureAbigail Daly

Red squirrels in Cowal - our fluffy, funny, feisty neighbours

Red squirrels are regularly spotted by guests staying at Ruskin Lodges. Their antics are a delight to watch and while a common sight locally, they are rare and many guests have never seen one before in real life. As well as in the area around the lodges, you can spot red squirrels at Benmore Gardens, around Puck's Glen and at Kilmun Arboretum. Here are some facts about our delightful neighbours.

Red squirrel by snowdrops
By Caroline Legg licensed under CC-BY-2.0

Red squirrels are small mammals that are native to the UK and are found in several areas of Scotland, including Argyll. They are known for their distinctive reddish-brown fur, pointy ears and long, bushy tails. They are smaller than grey squirrels. Red squirrels are arboreal, which means they spend most of their time in trees, and are well adapted for life in the forest, with sharp claws for climbing and small, agile bodies.

Red squirrels are primarily herbivores, feeding on a wide variety of plant material including seeds, nuts, fruits, and fungi. They are also known to feed on insects, birds' eggs, and small invertebrates. In the winter, red squirrels rely on the food they have stored during the warmer months to survive.

Red squirrels are an important part of the ecosystem in Argyll and play a role in seed dispersal and the control of insect populations. However, they face several threats to their survival, including habitat loss and the introduction of non-native species. One of the biggest threats to red squirrels in the UK is the grey squirrel, which is an invasive species that competes with red squirrels for resources and has been known to carry a virus that is deadly to red squirrels.

In order to protect and conserve red squirrel populations in Argyll, conservation efforts have been put in place by organisations such as the Scottish Wildlife Trust and the Red Squirrel Survival Trust. These efforts include habitat management, population monitoring, and the control of grey squirrels.

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