Latin name: Sciurus vulgaris
With its distinctive russet fur and long bushy tail, the red squirrel is easy to distinguish from the much more common grey squirrel. Although the red squirrel will make its drey in various types of woodland, it is usually found in large areas of conifer woodland. Here it can easily travel from branch to branch and has access to a wide range of food, including cone seeds, buds and shoots.
In the Yorkshire Dales, red squirrels are restricted to the north western area of the National Park. It is difficult to accurately estimate the numbers of red squirrels in North Yorkshire but the number of sightings has risen dramatically since records were started in the late 1990s. It is thought that this increase is because the conifer woodlands in the area have reached cone bearing age in recent years.
The Yorkshire Dales is widely recognised as an important habitat for red squirrels. Widdale, Greenfield Red Squirrel Reserve and part of the Garsdale and Mallerstang Red Squirrel Reserve areas are within the National Park. The work of Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority staff and volunteers includes monitoring red squirrels for a number of years and setting up the Snaizeholme red squirrel trail and viewing area in Widdale.
Red squirrel numbers declined dramatically following the introduction of the grey squirrel from the United States in the nineteenth century. The red squirrel continues to be on the UK list of priority species for biodiversity action.