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New baby squirrel kits born at park

Visitors are thrilled to hear the patter of tiny feet at the Tropical Butterfly House Wildlife Conservation Park thanks to the arrival of not one but four baby red squirrel kits, all born here at the park over the summer.

New baby squirrel kits born at park article image

Visitors are thrilled to hear the patter of tiny feet thanks to the arrival of not one but four baby red squirrel kits, all born here at the park over the summer.   

Mum and dad arrived at the park in Spring 2021 and at just over a year old, are young parents enjoying all the joys, trials and tribulations of raising their first litter! The colourful couple, named ‘Mork and Mindy’ by the park’s keepers, and their new family are all doing exceptionally well as the squirrel kits reach a couple of months old this autumn.

Playful and very inquisitive, the red squirrel family can be seen happily exploring their enclosure much to the delight of the park visitors. Mum Mindy is known to be a little more outgoing than Dad Mork, and can often be seen taking a spin on her exercise wheel which makes for a visual treat, as red squirrels are notably very elusive and hard to spot in the wild.

Slightly smaller than greys, red squirrels are loved for their bright red coat, long bushy tails and red ear tufts. Red squirrels are our native species and current populations are estimated at 140,000 compared to the more familiar grey squirrel, introduced from North America in the 1800s, with an estimated population of 2.5 million.

Although once common throughout the UK, there are now only isolated spots of red squirrel populations here - with strongholds in Anglesey, Wales and the north of England and Scotland - where sadly even these populations are declining. To preserve red squirrels, they must be kept apart from grey squirrels and The Wildlife Trusts predict that without conservation management, red squirrels could be extinct in England in approximately 10 years’ time, which is why captive breeding programmes are so important.

Slightly smaller than greys, red squirrels are loved for their bright red coat, long bushy tails and red ear tufts. Red squirrels are our native species and current populations are estimated at 140,000 compared to the more familiar grey squirrel, introduced from North America in the 1800s, with an estimated population of 2.5 million.

Although once common throughout the UK, there are now only isolated spots of red squirrel populations here - with strongholds in Anglesey, Wales and the north of England and Scotland - where sadly even these populations are declining. To preserve red squirrels, they must be kept apart from grey squirrels and The Wildlife Trusts predict that without conservation management, red squirrels could be extinct in England in approximately 10 years’ time, which is why captive breeding programmes are so important.

Headkeeper Steve Dickie speaks about the importance of its new arrivals:

“We are over the moon we’ve successfully produced this lovely litter of four kits. Red squirrels generally produce two to three kits per litter so to have four is amazing. The adult squirrels only arrived at the centre in April this year from other animal parks in the UK as part of the captive breeding programme, so it’s great that they have settled and bred so quickly.

Working with the red squirrel species monitor and other animal collections we can ensure we maintain a genetically viable population as a safety net for any potential future releases into suitable habitats.

These are the first kits to be born at the park, so we are hoping to produce many more in the coming years.”

As part of the captive breeding programme, some of the park’s red squirrel kits will move to other zoos and animal collections to continue the success of captive breeding for the future.

Headkeeper Steve Dickie speaks about the importance of its new arrivals:

“We are over the moon we’ve successfully produced this lovely litter of four kits. Red squirrels generally produce two to three kits per litter so to have four is amazing. The adult squirrels only arrived at the centre in April this year from other animal parks in the UK as part of the captive breeding programme, so it’s great that they have settled and bred so quickly.

Working with the red squirrel species monitor and other animal collections we can ensure we maintain a genetically viable population as a safety net for any potential future releases into suitable habitats.

These are the first kits to be born at the park, so we are hoping to produce many more in the coming years.”

As part of the captive breeding programme, some of the park’s red squirrel kits will move to other zoos and animal collections to continue the success of captive breeding for the future.

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Wildlife conservation at the heart of everything we do

Wildlife conservation at the heart of everything we do