Cute red squirrel having a snack (c) Raymond Leinster
A little red squirrel having a snack (c) Raymond Leinster

Over the past few months we have heard reports of red squirrel sightings around the Carrickstone and Westerwood area from some local residents. We’re still eagerly waiting to have these sightings confirmed with a photograph but we’re so happy that people are interested and on the lookout for these native Scottish mammals in the town.

Red squirrel populations have seriously declined, with only around 120,000 remaining in Scotland today. In some places like Cumbernauld, they have not been seen for many years. The larger grey squirrels were introduced from North America into parks and gardens in Britain during Victorian times. Sadly, they’ve been very successful. Grey squirrels can out-compete the reds for food and living space, and they can also carry a disease called squirrelpox, which is lethal to reds.

To make identifying the different squirrels confusing – some grey squirrels have reddish-coloured fur and some reds can look at bit grey. But as well as a being smaller than greys, red squirrels can have little “tufts” on their ears, particularly during winter, which the greys never have. You might regularly see grey squirrels in your local greenspace in Cumbernauld or even in your garden.

This week (21-27 Sep) Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels is holding its Great Scottish Squirrel Survey. People are encouraged to report any squirrel sightings during this week. So, we’re calling on people around the town to get outdoors, explore nature and be on the lookout for tufted ears and bushy tails. Your local woods are a place to start looking! Reporting sightings of both red and grey squirrels is really important to help get a snapshot of the situation. To report any sightings, visit scottishsquirrels.org.uk. The team at Cumbernauld Living Landscape would also love to hear what you find.

Fiona McGrevey, Project Manager

Cumbernauld Living Landscape