A RED squirrel from Formby spent almost a month recuperating at a specialist treatment facility in Nantwich - after a concerned homeowner noticed one of her furry friends who visits her garden had a nasty injured eye.
Lancashire Wildlife Trust’s red squirrel officer, Emma Dwan was called out to help in September and the female squirrel was successfully trapped and taken to Village Vets in Formby for an initial assessment and treatment.
At the time, there was concern that the squirrel might have been suffering from squirrelpox virus due to an ongoing local outbreak so she was tested by the Animal and Plant Health Agency - which happily showed that she was free of the virus, which is almost always fatal to red squirrels.
Staff at the RSPCA’s Stapeley Grange Wildlife Centre in Nantwich have spent nearly a month treating her for a skin condition before she was collected by Lancashire Wildlife Trust and re-released, in good health, back into her favourite garden in Formby on October 6.
Lee Stewart, manager at Stapeley Grange said: “We get a remarkably small number of red squirrels admitted to the wildlife centre, so when we do, the team here are always really pleased to help treat and rehabilitate this iconic yet little-seen animal.
“Although this particular squirrel needed help, she was extremely lively, and we were keen to return her to the wild as quickly as possible. Managing stress of any wildlife casualty is important for rehabilitators, and it was obvious this little girl wanted to go home!”
Emma Dwan added: “It’s been a challenging summer for our reds in Formby with the recent squirrelpox outbreak, so it was an incredible feeling to be able to release this red back to the wild. It was a team effort, a huge thank you to our local vets in Formby who took her in initially for assessment, the Animal and Plant Health Agency for their advice and testing for pox, and to RSPCA Stapeley Grange for their dedication and care to treat her condition and get her fit for release.”
The protected mammals have declined quite markedly in Britain over a number of decades and their range is limited, with populations found in parts of northern England, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Wight and Scotland.
They are listed as a priority species for conservation in the UK biodiversity action plan. As well as competition with grey squirrels, habitat loss and the spread of diseases such as squirrelpox have contributed to their decline. The best time of year to see them is in autumn when they are foraging for nuts and seeds for the winter ahead.
To support Stapeley Grange’s ongoing work during this extremely difficult time, please donate to their JustGiving site, ‘RSPCA Stapeley Grange Wildlife Centre.’