Haddo Estate

WILDLIFE CONSERVATION

RED SQUIRRELS

These delightful animals are at risk of extinction in many local areas of the United Kingdom, but at Haddo they are enjoying a period of great regeneration, with numbers increasing and health improving among their population. Once culled in the name of conservation, particularly at the hands of the Highland Squirrel Club in the first half of the twentieth century, red squirrels are now a cherished native species whose protection from extinction is vital. Their conservation relies heavily on the controlling of the non-native grey squirrel population, which is on the rise in Aberdeenshire. Grey squirrels live in greater density and are more efficient feeders than reds, and therefore cannot successfully cohabit with them. They also transmit the deadly squirrel pox virus (similar in its symptoms to myxamitosis) but do not suffer from it – however this disease is fatal if contracted by red squirrels.

The Estate has adopted planting schemes as part of the Forest Plan to ensure that the red squirrel population continues to thrive at Haddo, namely by planting more Norway spruce and Scots pine on a timetable that takes care not to disrupt them. Feeders are also in operation on many parts of the Estate. Measures are taken to ensure that grey squirrels do not establish themselves on the Estate, and it is hoped that Haddo will become a priority area of woodland for the conservation of the red squirrel in Grampian – it is estimated that Haddo’s woodlands, according to their density and tree types, have the potential to host 150 red squirrels.


Click here for more information on ways you can help conserve the red squirrel population on Haddo or in your local area.

If you are keen to go red squirrel spotting, then click here for some tips about how to get the best out of your experience.


More obsessive red squirrel fans are invited to test their knowledge with the special Haddo quiz,
“Who Wants To Be A Squirrelionnaire?”

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ways you can help conserve the red squirrel population

  • Drive slowly on all Estate roads – red squirrels, most often males, are known for their poor knowledge of the Highway Code, and they do not cross with caution
  • Record any squirrel sightings – red or grey – at www.grampiansquirrelgroup.co.uk
  • Feeding red squirrels will help, though not if greys are present - squirrel feeders can be purchased from Wood Recyclability (01651 842876)
  • Pregnant and juvenile red squirrels are prone to rickets (calcium deficiency) – this can be helped by hanging up a piece of cuttlefish or an antler next to your feeder for them to gnaw at
  • Red squirrels also like fresh fruit and mushrooms
  • Avoid giving them Brazil nuts as this upsets their tummies
  • Make sure you clean and disinfect your feeder regularly

Tips for squirrel spotting

  • The best way to find out if squirrels are using a wood near you is to look for signs of feeding, e.g. stripped cones whose point is still intact.
  • NB this doesn’t distinguish between red and grey squirrels, but it is a good starting point
  • Mice will make a tidier job and strip the entire cone, and they also prefer to eat undercover, so if cones are in the open and scattered everywhere then it is more likely to be squirrels.
  • Each squirrel has a different way of eating so you can identify if the same or different animal are using a site for feeding.
  • If you are visiting the Haddo Country Park, the best place to get a sighting of a red squirrel is the area of Norway spruce between the duck pond and Haddo House.
  • They do not hibernate but will stay in their dreys if the weather is really bad. Red Squirrels don’t like rain and wind but the cold doesn’t worry them.
  • Their active periods are:
    Summer:                 6am – 6pm
    Spring/Autumn:   mid-morning – mid afternoon
    Winter:                     9am – 11am
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