As a card carrying member of the Tufty Club, back in the 1960s, I was disappointed that membership didn’t actually involve ownership of a squirrel. Or to be more precise, a red squirrel.
All through my formative years I heard tales of these elusive red squirrels, their road safety abilities and the hardship brought upon them by the virus carrying grey squirrels that were introduced to this country in the late 19th century.
Introduced by people thinking that the licence for having a grey one would be cheaper than for a red one. Well it was for that or for some other reason.
Anyway the introduction of these non-native squirrels from North America was disastrous for our homely little red guys and their numbers have fallen to only 140,001 – that extra ‘1’ on the end is mine.
So imagine my delight when I visited Pensthorpe Natural Park and discovered that they are helping the red squirrel cause as part of a national Biodiversity Action Plan and have actual real red squirrels there. I stood and watched the little kittens – that what we red squirrels experts call the young ones – running around, climbing and tumbling and e being adorable with their tiny red tufted ears.
I’ve seen dozens of pictures of red squirrels but amazingly the one thing that surprised more most was their colour. None of the photographs could do justice to their true colour.
Think less Mick Hucknall, less Ed Sheeran and more, um, well, red squirrel.
Obviously I melted as soon as I saw one and immediately adopted it – or one of its brothers or sisters.
By ‘adopted’ it’s more like being a Godparent, because you didn’t actually get to bring it home – and believe me I tried. I like to think that from a distance I’m offering spiritual support but if needed would be more than happy to take it home and spoil it rotten.
So for now I’m happy to be supporting my little red squirrel and the plight of one of our cutest natural inhabitants – apart from dormice.
Dormice are the cutest. Where can I adopt one of those?
There are plenty of red squirrels for us all to adopt: Pensthorpe Adoption.