Introduced to the UK from America in 1876 by our Victorian ancestors as a fashionable addition to large estates, the grey squirrel soon adapted to the British climate. Grey squirrels are notorious for displacing red squirrels in European woodlands. They out-compete the native reds for food, feeding more at ground level and being able to digest acorns, which the reds can't. They also carry a deadly pox virus which does not affect them. Unlike red squirrels Grey squirrels also cause considerable damage to trees through a process known as “ring barking” and also pose a threat to song bird eggs and chicks. Grey squirrels strip the bark from trees allowing infection to enter the tree which in turn kills either part of or the entire tree. Grey squirrels breed twice a year, December to February and May to June. The gestation period is about 44 days meaning the first litter is born in February to March, the second in June to July. There are normally two to six young in each litter which will leave the drey to build their own at around 15 weeks.
Why control grey squirrels?
Grey squirrels are destructive creatures, causing significant damage to both young and mature woodland. They will chew through pheasant feeders to gain access to the contents and very quickly empty them. Grey squirrels that have found their way into a roof space pose even more of a risk. Grey squirrels will gnaw through roof and floor joists causing massive structural issues and they will also strip electrical wiring of all insulation which in turn creates a huge fire risk.
Controlling grey squirrels
If you are fortunate enough to live in an area with the native red squirrel the options for controlling grey squirrels are restricted to live cage traps and shooting, meaning the red squirrels are left unharmed. If you live in an area without red squirrels then kills traps can be utilised and set in the correct location can be extremely effective. I use a mixture of live cage traps, kill traps and shooting for squirrel control dependant upon the situation and environment I am asked to control them in. As a rural pest control specialist we are often asked if we can control squirrels in large areas of woodland throughout Herefordshire, Worcestershire,Shropshire and Powys. This is a service we provide on an annual basis to target these animals prior to the peak season for damage to woodland.