Did you know that there was a day dedicated to squirrels? Whether it’s on that day or not, many of you probably like enjoying their company in one of London’s parks. We sure love spotting them, calling them and enticing them over with the help of a handful of peanuts… Well, if you’re a fan of squirrels and you live in London or you plan to pay a visit to the city, this is your article.
Where do the squirrels come from?
The grey squirrel that we commonly find around the capital is an American species. The first pair appeared in the park in Henbury, Cheshire in 1876. It is not known who brought them there. Grey squirrels are better at finding food and shelter than the red ones (the latter kind also carries the smallpox virus). Currently, there are no red squirrels in London: they died out in the 1920s. But there have been failed attempts to reintroduce the red squirrel to the city. Sometimes there are a few in London Wildlife Trust areas, but unfortunately, experts say these squirrels have little chance of long-term survival.
Where can we see them?
Squirrels are distributed over different parts of London, but perhaps the tamest ones are in the famous St. James’s Park. This is probably the best place to take a #squirrelselfie. To see squirrels less accustomed to people, you can visit one of the many nature reserves managed by the London Wildlife Trust.
It is also possible to see them in Hyde Park or Holland Park, but you need more patience.
What can they be fed?
Opinions vary about whether it’s good or bad to feed them, and there may be places that ban it. However, squirrels love unsalted nuts. Spring is when you can find the most nuts. If you bring a bag with nuts, you’ll see how seconds later you’ll be surrounded by squirrels and the hungry birds that are also there.
Squirrels in fiction
In the ‘The Deptford Mice‘ trilogy by Robin Jarvis, Morwenna is an evil squirrel that betrayed the kingdom of Greenwich.
And Squirrel Nutkin may actually have been based on a real London squirrel. The children’s author Beatrix Potter was born in Bolton Gardens, South Kensington. She grew up there and had many small animals as pets. So, why couldn’t Squirrel Nutkin be one of them?
Street art with squirrels
A few years ago, the street artist Roa painted a squirrel on Club Row, in Shoreditch. The anonymous duo Squirrel and Boe also painted a squirrel in Tottenham a couple of years ago.
The native red squirrel has been a symbol in art for centuries. It was used as a pet in London during the Middle Ages, and this is reflected in the works of art from that time, many of them kept in the British Library.
Have you already fed the squirrels in London? Will you share your #squirrelselfie with us?