Eurasian red squirrel in the Cairngorms
© Images from BarbAnna/Getty Image
Squirrelling nuts away
Winter can be tough going for our red squirrels, who store food during the autumn to see them through the leaner months. They don’t hibernate but are less active at this time of year. There are about 285 squirrel species in the world, ranging from the tiny African pygmy squirrel to the Bhutan giant flying squirrel. Like most of them, the red squirrel pictured here eats mainly nuts and berries.
As it prepares for winter, it can even pretend to bury food, to mislead other animals that might be watching. But squirrel brain capacity being what it is, the squirrel often forgets where some of its actual food has been buried. Out of those forgotten stores grow one of the humble squirrel's most important roles in the ecosystem: It's an inadvertent planter of new trees and bushes. Three cheers for the red squirrel!