Many think, and I felt the same way, that only the red squirrels are the European squirrels. And the brown ones, for example, belong to the North American gray squirrel breed. But this is not true at all! In Germany there are no gray squirrels so far. All squirrels living here belong to the European squirrel breed. They just have different colored fur, it can be red or brown or even black. And in winter the fur sometimes looks a bit grayish, that’s the winter fur. Like here with Strubbi, he was really gray in winter!
In fir forests there are more brown and black squirrels, because this color offers them a better camouflage and heat regulation. In the squirrel forest in Königsfeld in the Black Forest we also met mostly dark squirrels, like here Speedy!
Gray squirrels already exist in Europe in Great Britain and in Italy and Switzerland. The problem is that they are larger and hardier than our squirrels and are gradually displacing them. And they carry a virus that is deadly to our squirrels. Italian gray squirrels, however, do not carry this virus. Fortunately, the insularity of Great Britain and the Alps have so far prevented the grey squirrels from immigrating to Germany. However, it must also be mentioned that in Italy and Switzerland the gray squirrels have not been a problem for the European squirrel so far. In Great Britain other reasons, such as non-native forests and hunting play a role for the displacement.
As this topic is mentioned again and again at our creative markets, we have now created a flyer. This shows with photos quite clearly the differences between the European squirrels and the American gray squirrels. We have also already sent this flyer to squirrel helpers, to educate the finders. Also, I always carry the flyers in my purse!
So if you see any brown squirrels, rest assured, they are native German squirrels too 🙂
There is also a detailed report on the gray squirrels on the page of the Squirrel Help Berlin!
In addition, there was recently an interesting article in the F.A.Z. about the American gray squirrels in England. There it was found that the pine martens help to reduce the population of gray squirrels and thus the European squirrels are strengthened in their population again. One should simply let nature do its thing!