Intern to the rescue at Ayscoughfee…
Squirrel Rescue at Ayscoughfee Hall Museum and Gardens
We had some drama this month at Ayscoughfee, when a baby grey squirrel fell from his home tree in the hall gardens. Despite making several attempts to retrieve her little one, the mother squirrel eventually gave up and returned to the rest of her brood.
An onlooker in the gardens fetched the head gardener, who was then able to warm and rehydrate the now orphan baby. Apart from a slight bloodied nose from his fall, the baby seemed in fairly good health, but needed feeding every hour or so with a pipette to make sure he didn’t dehydrate – and this became my main duty for the day!
There was now the question of what to do with the little thing. Grey squirrels are not native to the UK; they were introduced in 1876 and are widely accepted as the main reason for the decline of the red squirrel. They are regarded as an invasive non-native species. This meant complications for our baby, affectionately named ‘Scrat’.
On further research I learnt that to be able to rescue and release a grey squirrel in the UK, you are required to:
- have a licence from Natural England
- ensure the squirrel is at full health prior to release
- have suitable land for release
- have either ownership of the land or landowner permission to release the squirrel
Unfortunately, that meant I couldn’t keep Scrat myself!
Finding him a new home wasn’t the easiest task though, as most animal rescues don’t apply for grey squirrel licences. Eventually though, I came across Mansfield Wildlife Rescue, which does have a licence, and did in fact have five other baby squirrels all of a similar age to Scrat!
After speaking to the rescue over the phone, I arranged to take Scrat. On arrival, he was taken straight to the other baby squirrels and introduced, and was immediately accepted into the group.
Cheryl, the Rescue’s owner, told me that in around 6-7 weeks he should be ready for release into a nearby reserve! In the meantime, I am now following Scrats progress with updates from the Rescue, and am reliably informed that he is settling in well with his new family!
By Elsa Trueman, Resilience Syndicate Intern at Ayscoughfee Hall Museum and Gardens