Successful Winter For Tresco’s Newest Residents

A batch of red squirrels arriving on Tresco last year.

A batch of red squirrels arriving on Tresco last year.

Tresco could soon be hearing the “patter of tiny squirrel feet,” according to Abbey Gardens Curator Mike Nelhams.

It would mark the first successful breeding by the rare red squirrels since they were introduced to the island last year.

Mike says the first six animals brought over in 2012 didn’t do well. They were acclimatised in their cages too long and some died from injuries related to fighting.

The keepers have learnt from their mistakes. Two further batches, totalling thirty animals, arrived last summer and all were released quickly.

Mike says they survived the winter and appear to be doing well.

They’re often seen around the garden and estate office, he says.

David Mills, an expert from the British Wildlife Trust in Surrey who supplied them, will be coming over at the end of June to assess the health of the colony.

And Mike’s hoping there’ll be some good news.

Several of the females have disappeared recently, which he says is a good sign. It means they might be pregnant.

Tresco is hoping to join areas like the Isle of Wight and Brownsea Island to become a haven for the rapidly disappearing rodents.

The scheme was first suggested five years ago by Daily Telegraph wildlife columnist and regular visitor to the island, Robin Page.