Red and Grey Squirrels – The differences

Red Squirrel climbing up tree
Grey Squirrel in foliage

 Red Squirrels Sciurus vulgaris

Grey Squirrels Sciurus carolinensis


Reds – Coat and tail normally red but can vary from wheaten to dark brown. Grows characteristic ear tufts in winter.

Greys – 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

Reds – Europe, Siberia, Mongolia and Northwest China.

Greys – Eastern North America.


Reds – Fewer than 287,000 in the UK.

Greys – Estimates of 2.7 million in the UK.


Reds – 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.

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


Reds – Competition from invasive non-native grey squirrels; diseases, especially squirrel pox spread by grey squirrel; habitat destruction; traffic accidents and predators.

Greys – Road traffic accidents and predators.


Reds – 18-24 cm     

Greys – 24-29 cm


Reds – 17-18 cm

Greys – 19-24 cm


Reds – 280-330g

Greys – 400-650g

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