The red squirrel is native to the UK but has declined drastically in recent years. It is generally around 40cm long, though the tails take up around half this length. Their diet tends to consist of nuts, fruit, funghi, seeds and tree shoots.
A recent survey carried out by scientists from Edinburgh University on the Isle of Arran has discovered that their red squirrel population is "fit and healthy". That can only be good news for the species who have suffered terribly from disease (notably squirrelpox – a virus carried by grey squirrels which is frequently fatal for reds) and from the influx of grey squirrels in the 19th century.
There are 19 areas in Scotland where no grey squirrels live, and where the red squirrels are thriving – these are known as red stronghold sites. In Perth and Kinross, red squirrels are being sighted more regularly owing to a local cull of greys, with five sightings being reported in Perth itself. The 2013 red squirrel population in Scotland was estimated at around 121,000.
The researchers examined over twenty squirrels in 2013, and examined sixteen who had been killed accidentally by cars.
Visitors will find red squirrels all over the island of Arran. They are most easily spotted in both coniferous and deciduous wooded areas. Brodick Castle's estate, the Brodick Country Park has a particularly healthy and visible population.
Anywhere on Arran would be a wonderful location for an island visit, taking in historic buildings, walking and unsurpassed nature. We have a wide variety of accommodation which will suit all tastes and budgets – see our listings below. Or visitors may find that the close proximity to Glasgow makes Arran a wonderful location for a short break within a longer tour of Scotland.