Ginger Squirrels Have an Ally in Prince Harry

by Patrick Mahaney on April 23, 2015

Ginger Squirrels Have an Ally in Prince HarryThis article originally appeared on Dr. Mahaney’s Pet-Lebrity News column on Pet360.com as Ginger Squirrels Have an Ally in Prince Harry.

Although people and animals with red hair or fur are commonly termed “gingers” (see Urban Dictionary for proof) and are often the brunt of a joke simply because of their genetics, they have a new ally in Prince Harry.

Being somewhat of a ginger myself, I sympathize in the plight of the ginger in terms of sometimes being scorned by the media. South Park even mocked us as having “Gingervitus” in the Ginger Kids episode simply because nature has dealt us a unique hand with our red hair, pale skin and numerous freckles.

Now, we’ve got one of the world’s most famous gingers, Prince Harry, on our side. Recently, The Prince made an appearance to support the protection of red squirrels. Evidently, there is concern about the populations of squirrels adorned with scarlet coats in northern England. As a result, Prince Harry has teamed with Northumberland Wildlife Trust’s Red Squirrel Northern England (RSNE) Project to raise awareness about the plight of the ginger rodents (yes, squirrels are rodents).

The red squirrel, a creature native to England and fondly looked upon by the British, faces population threat from the unfavorably perceived grey squirrels. To make matters worse, the grey squirrel is of American origin and made its way to England in the 19th century. Not only do grey squirrels consume larger amounts of food, but their large body size and less-than-pleasant temperaments affect the day-to-day lives of red squirrels. 

More about Red Squirrels and How You can Help

Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels shares some insightful facts about the red squirrel, including:

- Red squirrels can have fur ranging from sandy orange to almost black.

- A squirrel can tell a nut is rotten even without opening it.

- Red squirrels have trouble digesting acorns, unlike grey squirrels that love them!

- Only 120,000 red squirrels are left in Scotland. That’s half the number of grey squirrels.

According to RSNE, “the grey squirrel is regarded as an invasive non-native species … Grey squirrels are also listed in the international list of 100 worst invasive non-native species. This highlights the damage that grey squirrels cause to our native flora and fauna; a problem severe enough to be recognised at a level of global significance. As such, the grey squirrel is regarded as a pest species and is afforded no protection under the WCA.” Additionally, it is illegal to release a grey squirrel into the wild, or allow one to escape in Northern England.

The RSNE also takes a serious stance their red squirrel conservation policies.  Evidently, “the red squirrel is a protected species in the UK … It is an offence to intentionally kill or injure a red squirrel or intentionally or recklessly damage or destroy any structure or place a red squirrel uses for shelter or protection, or disturb a red squirrel while it occupies such a place.”

Prince Harry’s role in helping the red squirrel has even been publicly broadcast by The Royal Family. @KensingtonRoyal tweeted the following statement: “Prince Harry hears how @NorthWildlife are helping save red squirrels in Northumberland.”

The account shared a number of photos, including Harry taking refuge in a camouflage tent with conservationists get an up close and personal view of the squirrels and witness how wildlife photography is appropriately performed.

Although no red squirrels were spotted on his outing, hopefully Prince Harry’s efforts to bring awareness to the predicament will benefit all non-grey squirrel woodland creatures in the long run.  Considering the extent to which the event was covered by worldwide media outlets, I feel the project was a success.

Have you ever worked on a wildlife conservation project? I have with Amazon C.A.R.E.S and would love to hear about your experiences in the comments section.

Thank you for reading this article.  Your questions and comments are completely welcome (I’ll respond). Please feel free to communicate with me through Twitter (@PatrickMahaney) and follow my adventures in veterinary medicine by liking Patrick Mahaney: Veterinarian Acupuncture Pain Management for Your Pets on Facebook.

Copyright of this article (2015) is owned by Dr Patrick Mahaney, Veterinarian and Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist. Republishing any portion of this article must first be authorized by Dr Patrick Mahaney. Requests for republishing must be approved by Dr Patrick Mahaney and received in written format. 

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