Find Red Squirrels in the Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park in Scotland
Only around 121,000 red squirrels are left in Scotland today. Without sustained action, the red squirrel could become extinct on mainland Scotland. The red squirrel is in danger of becoming extinct for two reasons - their loss of habitat and the spread of the more common American grey squirrel. Following a long history of land use change, the small, isolated fragments left over from Scotland's once huge native woodland could not support our red squirrels. Modern-day woodland planting is helping to turn this around.
Red squirrels are still abundant in the forests of the west of Scotland. However, grey squirrels are spreading from the central belt northwards on both sides of Loch Lomond, westwards from Stirling to Aberfoyle and Callander and westwards from Comrie towards St. Fillans. Unfortunately they can spread a disease called squirrelpox which is often fatal to our native reds. Although the grey squirrels carry the disease they are resistant to it themselves.
Where red squirrels are hanging on, the National Park Authority are working to safeguard these populations. By creating good habitats free of the grey American cousins they are encouraging red squirrels back into areas where they haven't been found in a while.
Where pine marten numbers increase, red squirrels increase too. This native predator of squirrels is playing a key role in red squirrel conservation in the park. Grey sqirrels are bigger and slower and spend more time on the ground than the red squirrels, so they're easier to catch and a better meal for the pine marten.
Within the Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park, the best areas to find red squirrels are the forests in the west, such as Glenbranter Forest in the Argyll Forest Park. But you can also spot them in the Trossachs in places like Callander and on the east shore of Loch Lomond at Balmaha and Rowardennan.
As part of Wild Park 2020, the Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park's vision is that the red squirrel population is healthy and these charismatic creatures can commonly be seen once again around the National Park.
If you would like to help to increase the population of this best-loved species, you could volunteer to take part in squirrel surveys, adopt a red squirrel with the Scottish Wildlife Trust and report the location of sightings of grey squirrels in the National Park. For more information visit www.scottishsquirrels.org.uk