Lithe and nimble, this ginger-coated beauty still thrives in pinewoods in the Highlands and some other places such as Dumfries and Galloway. Look for signs of them on trails, in the trees and - if you’re lucky - see them close-up when they come to nut feeders
What to look for
As you walk a woodland track, look for pine cones nibbled evenly to their core, with a topknot of outer sheath remaining. Listen for scrabbling sounds in branches above and look for movement in the trees. Close-to, the coat colour, fluffy tail and ear tufts are un-mistakable.
Highland Region is the only part of mainland Britain with red squirrels but no grey squirrels. Elsewhere, red squirrel numbers have crashed. In part, this is because the introduced grey out-competes the smaller red. Red squirrels were themselves re-introduced to Scotland in the late 1800s after an earlier, catastrophic population crash.
When and where to see
Red squirrels don’t hibernate, but do spend a lot of time holed-up in leafy shelters - ‘dreys’ - up trees in winter. The Caledonian pinewoods of Strathspey and Deeside and glens west of Loch Ness are red squirrel hotspots. So are the mixed woods on either side of Loch Ness itself and the Galloway Forest Park in the south. One place that you are very likely to see squirrels is at the feeding station on the pinewood nature trail at Landmark, Carrbridge.
Find out more about red squirrels at Trees For Life.