A red squirrel revival?
Have you ever seen a red squirrel? Imagine one darting through the treetops of Cumbernauld Glen, or scurrying around the grounds of Palacerigg. It’s not as far-fetched as you might think!
As Britain’s only native squirrel species, red squirrels were once widespread throughout Scotland. It’s only in the past few decades that they have been replaced by grey squirrels, an invasive American species that was first brought to the Central Belt by the Victorians. Grey squirrels are larger, they eat more and breed more and as a result they’ve out-competed red squirrels across much of the country, including Cumbernauld.
However, while red squirrels are still highly threatened, things are beginning to look up. There are still strong populations not too far away in the Highlands. Thanks to conservation work (and possibly pine martens too), the spread of grey squirrels is being managed across the Central Lowlands, helping to keep red squirrel populations stable and in some places even increase their range.
One of these places just might be Cumbernauld. There have been regular sightings in the Carron Valley just a few miles north, and there’s even been a few reports on the outskirts of the town itself. At Cumbernauld Living Landscape we’re very excited about the prospect of red squirrels returning to the town, but we need more evidence!
You could help by taking part in the Great Scottish Squirrel Survey, which runs from 23 – 29 September. People all over Scotland are being asked to report their sightings of both red and grey squirrels on the Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels website, scottishsquirrels.org.uk. The more records we have for Cumbernauld, the better our understanding will be. And if you manage to get a photo, please send it to us on Facebook or Twitter.