red squirrel on brown table top

Do Grey Squirrels Kill Red Squirrels?

Yes, grey squirrels can kill red squirrels.

The introduction of grey squirrels to certain regions has had a detrimental impact on the red squirrel population. In this article, we will explore the relationship between grey squirrels and red squirrels, the reasons behind their conflicts, and the consequences for the red squirrel population.

Background: Grey Squirrels vs. Red Squirrels

Grey squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis) and red squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris) are both species of tree squirrels commonly found in various parts of the world. However, they have different origins and characteristics.

Grey squirrels are native to North America and were introduced to the United Kingdom in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They are larger and more aggressive than red squirrels, with a grayish-brown fur and a distinctive bushy tail. On the other hand, red squirrels are native to Europe and parts of Asia. They have reddish-brown fur, tufted ears, and a slender body.

Competition and Conflict

Grey squirrels and red squirrels often compete for resources such as food, nesting sites, and territory. The introduction of grey squirrels to regions where red squirrels were once dominant has led to increased competition and conflict between the two species.

Food Competition

Grey squirrels have a broader diet compared to red squirrels. They can consume a wide range of foods, including acorns, nuts, seeds, fruits, and even bird eggs. This versatility gives them an advantage over red squirrels, especially in areas where food sources are limited.

Red squirrels, on the other hand, primarily rely on coniferous forests and pine cones as their main food source. With the presence of grey squirrels, the competition for these resources intensifies, leading to a scarcity of food for red squirrels.

Carrying Disease

Another significant factor contributing to the decline of red squirrels is the transmission of the squirrelpox virus by grey squirrels. While grey squirrels are immune to this virus, it is lethal to red squirrels. The virus causes skin lesions, ulcers, and eventually death in infected red squirrels. Grey squirrels act as carriers, spreading the disease to the red squirrel population.

Impact on Red Squirrel Population

The presence of grey squirrels has had a severe impact on the red squirrel population in many regions. The larger and more dominant grey squirrels outcompete red squirrels for resources, leading to a decline in their numbers.

According to studies, areas where grey squirrels have established themselves have seen a significant reduction in red squirrel populations. The displacement of red squirrels from their natural habitats has resulted in local extinctions in some areas.

Conservation Efforts

Efforts to conserve and protect red squirrels have been implemented in regions where they are at risk. These efforts include:

Conservation MeasuresDescription
Grey Squirrel ControlControlling the population of grey squirrels through trapping, relocation, or culling to reduce competition and limit the spread of squirrelpox virus.
Habitat ManagementCreating and maintaining suitable habitats for red squirrels, including the planting of native trees and managing forests to favor their presence.
Public AwarenessIncreasing public awareness about the importance of conserving red squirrels and the threats they face, encouraging support and involvement in conservation efforts.


In conclusion, grey squirrels can indeed kill red squirrels. The competition for resources, coupled with the transmission of squirrelpox virus, has led to a decline in the red squirrel population in areas where grey squirrels have been introduced. Conservation efforts are crucial to protect and preserve the red squirrel species from further decline.

Similar Posts