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Red squirrels are thriving again as pine marten numbers rise

Daily Mail - Science & tech

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.


Nature: Red squirrels are being put at risk by conifers planted across the UK to PROTECT them

Daily Mail - Science & tech

Red squirrels in the UK are being put at risk by non-native conifer trees that have been planted with the aim of protecting the threatened species. This is the warning of a team of Queen's University Belfast-led researchers, who studied squirrel populations at 700 different sites across Northern Ireland. In the UK, red squirrel populations are often confined to coniferous woodlands -- as their invasive rival, the grey squirrel, struggles to gain a foothold in such habitats. This is because the greys prefer trees like oaks that provide larger, more calorific seeds to eat, whereas red squirrels are fine feeding on the smaller seeds of conifers. The problem with providing red squirrels more coniferous habitats to call home, the team found, is that such fails to take into account the resurgence of the pine marten.


These Adorable Squirrels Are Also Baby-Killing Cannibals

National Geographic

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.


A Medieval strain of leprosy is infecting squirrels in the UK

Popular Science

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, facts and photos

National Geographic

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.