Red squirrels, Scottish Highlands
© Neil Anderson/Minden Picture
A tree squirrel, like this red squirrel in Scotland, doesn’t hibernate during the winter. Hibernating is more of a ground squirrel trait. But the red squirrel is particular about where it sleeps, mostly building its nest, or drey, high above the ground in the cavity of an evergreen tree. Nests are often lined with soft materials such as leaves, moss and grass. This little squirrel is using its bushy tail to keep warm, with the help of some lichen and pine needles.
In Scotland and other places in the United Kingdom, the native red squirrel is threatened by the much more prominent, non-native grey squirrel. The American squirrels tend to outcompete the red squirrels for food and living space. While there are millions of grey squirrels in the UK, it’s estimated only 120,000 to 160,000 red squirrels remain, about three-quarters of them in Scotland. Conservation efforts focus on preserving red squirrel habitat and tackling the spread of grey squirrels.