After it was introduced into Ireland in 1911 the Grey Squirrel has become widespread throughout the country and is largely responsible for the decline in numbers for the protected red squirrel which is native to the country. Unlike the red squirrel who contribute to the biodiversity of our forest eco-systems the grey squirrel causes extensive damage to trees by stripping their bark. This leaves the trees discoloured and prone to wind-snap, disease, insect and fungal attacks.
Features and Appearance:
Grey squirrels have a body length of approximately 26cm and a tail of approximately 21cm. They can weight anything between 500g to 750g.
The normal habitat for the Grey Squirrel is usually woodlands and forests where sycamore, beech, maple and oak grow. In autumn the tend to move away from woodlands to fields, hedgerows and gardens. They are generally active in the mornings and afternoons all year round.
Grey Squirrels are a threat to the red squirrel population, to forestry and are also known to attack many ranges of ornamental plants, fruits and vegetables.
During the months of May to July they are most active in damaging tree bark in 10-40 year old varieties such as sycamore, beech and maple. The trees are gnawed at the main stem to get at the sweet, sappy layers directly underneath the bark of the tree. In the event the tree is ringed of bark it will die.
Plants, fruits and vegetables particularly at risk are tulip bulbs, crocus corms, sweet corn, strawberries, apples, pears, nuts, sunflower seed heads and flower buds of camellias and magnolias.
Grey Squirrels are also known to attack and eat, eggs and the young of both songbirds and game birds.
Blocking gaps and holes in your roof-space help prevent entry into your house. Food sources should be removed from outside your property and squirrel resistant bird feeders should only be used in your garden.
Strong spices such as hilli powder, cinnamon or hot sauce can be spread in areas that may attract grey squirrels.
Under the Wildlife Act it is illegal to release non-indigenous animals into the wild, so any grey squirrels caught should be killed. Shooting or trapping is permissible under the law provided it's done in a humane manner, however, shooting should only be done where its safe to do so and not where there's likely to be a risk of injury to any other people or animals.