Underscar Estate 2012

The red squirrel colony on the Underscar Estate still needs all our help in protecting its habitat, which is in the woodland both in and around the Underscar Manor and timeshare grounds.

The colonies immediately around us probably only contain at most around 30 individuals of which you will probably only see about 4-6 at any one time on and around the lawns. This is due to the number of feeding points and territorial space around them.

During daylight hours they continuously scamper and feed. Digging and careful tamping of the buried nut site is a spectacle to witness. Over the years red squirrels have become tolerant of human beings; nevertheless they are prone to stress related diseases caused by noise and violent movement.

Red squirrels have a high metabolic rate and need to feed every day of their short lives (3-5 years): red squirrels do not hibernate in winter. Supplementary feeding is important when the ground is frozen. Another time of natural food shortage is in the middle of summer when no berries, nuts or buds are available in the wild.

My Favourite Squirrel Behaviour 

Watching a very young squirrel trying to extricate a kernel from a hazlenut shell. The experienced adult will zip these open in a few seconds, whereas the youngster will gnaw a small hole in the shell and then enlarge it until the kernel is laboriously extracted in bits.

Observing how they tell a good nut from a bad one. When a squirrel handles a nut it rotates it between the palms of its front paws several times before it starts to feed. The squirrel is testing the weight of the nut and it will only try to open it if it is heavy - a nut with a withered kernel will be considerably lighter than one with a good seed. Clever squirrel! A useful way of saving energy for the foraging squirrel.


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