The grey squirrel

David Chapman

Writer and photographer, David Chapman, on why grey squirrels are a misunderstood bunch.



I won’t pretend that the grey squirrel is everyone’s favourite garden animal. If I had a pound for every time I had been asked how to keep the grey squirrel out of the garden or away from the bird feeders I would be a wealthier man, but I can’t ever remember being asked how to attract them to the garden!

I suspect that the main reason for their lack of popularity is the way in which they dominate bird feeding areas but they also damage trees, eat bird’s eggs and are indirectly responsible for the demise of our native red squirrel.

You may think that any defence of the grey squirrel is futile, but here I go anyway!

It wasn’t their fault they were introduced to Britain by us at the end of the 19th century and it isn’t their fault that they have out-done the red squirrel. Their antics and acrobatics at the bird feeding area are actually incredibly impressive, it’s just that we are quite fussy about who benefits from our generosity.

Finally what better way is there to encourage our children to become interested in wildlife than by taking them for a walk in the park to feed the ducks and squirrels. So I must confess that although I would rather the country be over-run by red squirrels, in their absence I would rather have the greys than none at all.

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