Tresco ‘Delighted’ As Red Squirrel Colony Gets Bigger

Little red quirrel sitting in a tree eating a peanutThe curator of Tresco’s Abbey Gardens says he’s delighted that the island’s red squirrels are breeding.

Mike Nelhams says five kittens have been born and are “dashing about freely” from their dray in the middle of the Abbey Gardens.

And Mike says sightings by visitors suggest that there may be more.

The endangered mammals were first flown into the estate as part of a breeding and preservation programme in September 2013.

A second batch was imported last year after most of the original colony died following fighting, which led to septicaemia.

Mike says they’re quite low maintenance. The animals are fed regularly with hazelnuts around the garden and he says there’s plenty of natural food available too, such as pine cones.

There’s no obvious damage to the garden either, although the squirrels seem to have taken a shine to chewing the flowers on the garden’s banksia plants.

Mike says it can be hard to spot the difference between babies and adults, which look almost identical apart from their size.

And he says if they continue to flourish, the island could soon start exporting animals to other parts of the country, including a settlement project in Cornwall.

Daily Telegraph wildlife writer and Tresco regular, Robin Page, suggested the project in 2009. Tresco was chosen as a potential safe haven for the squirrels in addition to established colonies on the Isle of Wight and Brownsea Island in Dorset.