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Red Squirrel

Go Nuts for Squirrels

Well, we all know life’s not easy for the red squirrel. Bullied out of his home by his bigger grey American cousins and threatened by their viruses, there are only around 160,000 reds left in the UK (and they’re mostly in  Scotland), compared to 2.5 million greys.

But as the fight for their survival grows –a £1.3 million campaign, Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrel, just launched in Perthshire – Best Western is doing its bit.

At the BEST WESTERN Shap Wells Hotel in Penrith, the population’s doubled in recent years (to around 12). ‘We worked with the local conservation group,’ said general manager Julian Parkhurst. ‘They’re a big attraction. Photographers camouflage themselves, waiting to see them.’ So don the fatigues and hideout to spot them… or the less intrepid can join a breakfast feed.

In the grey squirrel’s defence, they didn’t ask to come here. They were brought across the Atlantic in the 1800s by British gentlemen who thought they’d be cute in their gardens.

And, it seems, the greys may be under threat themselves from a relative newcomer: the black squirrel. In parts of the country they now far outnumber greys – though whether it’s actually a different species or a genetic mutation is being disputed by scientists.

By Mark Jones, Do Not Disturb (in-hotel magazine)

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