Red and Grey Squirrels – The differences


Red Squirrels

Sciurus vulgaris

Grey Squirrels

Sciurus carolinensis

  Red Squirrel climbing up tree Grey Squirrel in foliage
Appearance Coat and tail normally red but can vary from wheaten to dark brown. Grows characteristic ear tufts in winter. Tail has an outer fringe of white or silver hairs. Coat generally silver-grey but can be other colours including reddish-brown which can lead to mis-identification. The tail is key.
Native range Europe, Siberia, Mongolia and Northwest China. Eastern North America.
Population Fewer than 287,000 in the UK. Estimates of 2.7 million in the UK.
Status Protected under the UK’s Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981. Priority species in the UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework. Classed as near-threatened in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Classed as an invasive non-native species in the UK and an invasive alien species in Europe.


Threats Competition from invasive non-native grey squirrels; diseases, especially squirrel pox spread by grey squirrel; habitat destruction; traffic accidents and predators. Road traffic accidents and predators.
Length 18-24 cm 24-29 cm
Tail 17-18 cm 19-24 cm
Weight 280-330g 400-650g

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