Red squirrels are being saved from extinction by a weasel-like predator that is hunting non-native grey squirrels. Pine marten numbers are rising in Scotland and the mammals are culling grey squirrels, which carry a virus that is harmless to them but is deadly to red squirrels. It is hoped that introducing pine martens across other parts of the UK can further increase numbers of red squirrels. Numbers of red squirrels are being saved from potential extinction as pine martens (pictured) are hunting the non-native grey squirrels. An international team of scientists looked at how the recent increase in the number of pine marten numbers has affected both squirrel species in parts of Scotland.
Mug shot: A biologist caught this male red squirrel in the act of killing a young squirrel pup. Death takes many forms for the red squirrels of the Yukon: Birds of prey strike from above while silent lynx stalk the snows below. In a study published this week in The Scientific Naturalist, researchers report that North American red squirrel pups often fall victim to attacks from nearby males. Sometimes these murderous males also eat the youngsters they kill. Jessica Haines of the University of Alberta witnessed some of these aggressions, called infanticide, as part of the Kluane Red Squirrel Project near Kluane Lake in Canada's Yukon Territory.
Leprosy was a fact of life in Medieval England. Back then, there were so many people infected with the disease that a minimum of 320 facilities were built to care for people infected with leprosy on the outskirts of town or near crossroads. But infections gradually declined, and leprosy has been incredibly rare in the United Kingdom for centuries. Now it's back, spotted in a population of red squirrels on a small island off the English coast. In a paper published today in Science, researchers announced that they had identified two strains of leprosy-causing bacteria – Mycobacterium leprae and Mycobacterium lepromatosis – in populations of red squirrels around the UK.
Flying squirrels are known for soaring anywhere from 150 to 500 feet, sailing from tree to tree to avoid ground predators--but they actually glide rather than fly. Flying squirrels don't have their own means of propulsion, like a bird or bat, but glide using a furry membrane called the patagium that connects at their wrists down to their ankles. When they leap from a tree and spread their limbs, this flap of loose skin forms a square and acts like a hang glider. Flying squirrels can turn by lowering one arm, while a specialized piece of cartilage not found in other gliding mammals extends from the wrist to support the pagatium and help them steer. These animals are capable of making 180-degree turns in mid-air to evade flying predators like owls.
Red squirrels could be almost wiped out in one of their last British strongholds by the deadly squirrel pox virus. Squirrel pox, carried by invasive grey squirrels, has helped destroy 95 per cent of native reds in England and Wales since 1952. But it had never been seen on Anglesey, Wales, raising fears after a dead red squirrel with facial lesions typical of the disease was discovered on Wednesday. Squirrel pox, carried by grey squirrels, has helped destroy 95 per cent of native reds in Britain since 1952. The virus is completely harmless for the invasive greys, which were introduced to Britain from America in 1876.