Thursday, January 28, 2016

Squirrels Spread by Humans

Grey Squirrel
People have played a bigger role in the spread of grey squirrels in the United Kingdoms than grey squirrels themselves did. DNA profiling has revealed that different squirrel populations in the UK are genetically distinct, or are more closely related to squirrel populations some distance away than to populations close by.  Instead of the squirrels expanding into new habitats themselves, humans have been responsible for their movements, sometimes intentionally and sometimes accidentally.

Red Squirrel
These findings could mean hope for the native red squirrel, which is outcompeted by the grey squirrels in many places. If the spread of squirrels by humans can be stopped, red squirrels in places with no grey squirrel populations may have a chance at surviving.  Can all transport of squirrels by humans actually be stopped? Probably not, because even if all the people actively transporting squirrels (out of good intentions or as pets) were somehow stopped, accidental squirrel transport (in cars, for example) cannot really be controlled.  However, just slowing the spread of grey squirrels may create chances for other solutions to be found.


  1. I would of never guessed that humans had that much of an affect on squirrel population. This is very interesting! Hopefully, there will be a change and the native red squirrel will be able to have a "come back" and survive in its nativ habitat!

  2. I know humans have been doing these kinds of migrations for a long time. We did it for animals we hunted in the past, and we still do it today in the ways that you mentioned. I'm sure we are carrying fewer squirrels in our ships and vehicles today than we have before, but we should be mindful of what we bring with us when we travel. A few invasive species can knockdown entire ecosystems. Hopefully our native squirrels can find ways to spread or keep up in our ever changing world.