Sciurus vulgaris 

Scope: Global
Language: English

Translate page into:

Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Rodentia Sciuridae

Scientific Name: Sciurus vulgaris Linnaeus, 1758
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Eurasian Red Squirrel, Red Squirrel
French Ecureuil roux
Spanish Ardilla Roja
Taxonomic Notes: There is a well defined subspecies meridionalis according to morphology and genetics and this may even be a valid species. This subspecies is restricted to Calabria (southwestern Italy) and if further taxonomic work confirms this as a full species it is likely to merit listing in a threatened category (G. Amori pers. comm. 2007).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2016-08-09
Assessor(s): Shar, S., Lkhagvasuren, D., Bertolino, S., Henttonen, H., Kryštufek, B. & Meinig, H.
Reviewer(s): Amori, G.
Listed as Least Concern because this species has a large population size and a wide distribution and there are no known widespread threats at present.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Globally, the red squirrel has a large range in the Palaearctic, extending from the United Kingdom, Ireland, Spain and Portugal in the west, through continental Europe, Russia, Mongolia, and northwest and northeast China to the Pacific coast (Panteleyev 1998, Gurnell and Wauters 1999). It is also found on the Pacific islands of Sakhalin (Russia) and Hokkaido (Japan, endemic subspecies Scuirus vulgaris orienti). It has been introduced to the Caucasus, and the Tokyo area of Japan where it may be competing with S. lis.

In Europe, it is widespread in most areas, with the exception of the Iberian peninsula (where it is absent from the south-west) and Britain (where it has almost completely disappeared from the south-east). It occurs only sporadically in the Balkans, and is absent from the majority of Mediterranean islands. It occurs in Turkish Thrace and northeastern Turkey (Yigit et al. 2006). In Portugal the range has expanded southwards. It occurs from sea level up to 3,100 m asl in the Alps (Spitzenberger 2002).
Countries occurrence:
Albania; Austria; Belarus; Belgium; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Bulgaria; China; Croatia; Czech Republic; Denmark; Estonia; Finland; France; Germany; Greece; Hungary; Ireland; Italy; Japan; Korea, Democratic People's Republic of; Korea, Republic of; Latvia; Liechtenstein; Lithuania; Luxembourg; Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of; Mongolia; Montenegro; Netherlands; Norway; Poland; Portugal; Romania; Russian Federation; Serbia; Slovakia; Slovenia; Spain; Sweden; Switzerland; Turkey; Ukraine; United Kingdom
Armenia; Azerbaijan; Georgia; Kazakhstan; Kyrgyzstan; Saint Kitts and Nevis
Additional data:
Upper elevation limit (metres):3100
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Although it is described as common throughout most of its range (Gurnell and Wauters 1999), there have been well-documented population declines and range contractions in the United Kingdom, Ireland and Italy (Gurnell and Pepper 1993, Wauters et al. 1997, O'Teangana et al. 2000). Typical densities range from less than 0.1 to 1.5 individuals per hectare (Gurnell and Wauters 1999). However, it is sufficiently common in some parts of its range that it is considered a forestry pest owing to its habit of stripping bark and feeding on conifer buds.

In Mongolia the population is subject to great fluctuations, which are reflected in the fur-trade statistics. From 1958-1960 an average of over 145,000 skins/year was obtained; in 1961, 70,300 skins were obtained and in 1962, 33,135 skins were harvested. During 1965 the total rose sharply to 112,755 skins, and then declined the next year to 77,629 skins. By 1970 the number collected fell to 35,600 skins.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:It is most abundant in large tracts of coniferous forest and also occurs in deciduous woods, mixed forest, parks, gardens, and small stands of conifers. It is found in lowland to subalpine forests. Its diet is mainly vegetarian, consisting of seeds, acorns, fungus, bark, and sapwood, although it occasionally takes animal prey (young birds and eggs). They are an important species for the reforestation process.
Generation Length (years):4

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Used for clothing and as pet.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The main threats to this species are habitat loss and fragmentation, but these are not considered to pose a major threat to the species at present.

In Britain and Italy, out-competition by the introduced grey squirrel Sciurus carolinensis (Gurnell and Pepper 1993, Wauters et al. 1997, Bertolino and Genovesi 2003). Now that the grey squirrel has become established on the continent, it can be expected that it may ultimately spread throughout much of the red squirrel's range. Grey squirrels not only out-compete the smaller red squirrels, but also carry parapox virus, which is highly pathogenic to red squirrels. Grey squirrels can carry the virus without being affected, and recent (2006) UK studies have shown that 61% of apparently healthy grey squirrels have been exposed to the virus and may be carriers (C. McInnes in litt. 2006). When the virus is present, the grey squirrel can replace the red squirrel 20 times faster than normal replacement rate (Rushton et al. 2006). The virus has not yet been recorded in Italy.

In Japan, this species is frequently sold as pets, having been imported from the mainland, and so the risk of the spread of this species across Japan is high, with much resulting concern for its impact on the native Sciurus lis.

In Mongolia, unsustainable hunting for skins, for the international fur trade is a threat. Records of hunting levels between 1942 and 1960 are available in Stubbe (1965), although current hunting levels have not been established.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: It is listed on Appendix III of the Bern Convention, and it occurs in many protected areas throughout its wide range. It is listed on the Chinese Red list as Near Threatened, being close to qualifying for Vulnerable A2cd+3cd.

Errata [top]

Errata reason: This errata assessment has been created because the map was accidentally left out of the version published previously.

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.1. Forest - Boreal
1. Forest -> 1.4. Forest - Temperate
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.4. Artificial/Terrestrial - Rural Gardens
3. Species management -> 3.1. Species management -> 3.1.1. Harvest management

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:Yes, over entire range
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
1. Research -> 1.5. Threats
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

Bibliography [top]

Abe, H., Ishii, N., Ito, T., Kaneko, Y., Maeda, K., Miura, S. and Yoneda, M. 2005. A Guide to the Mammals of Japan. Tokai University Press, Kanagawa, Japan.

Bertolino, S. and Genovesi, P. 2003. Spread and attempted eradication of the grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) in Italy, and consequences for the red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) in Eurasia.

Danzig, T. 1992. Biological Values for Selected Mammals. American Association of Zoo Keepers Inc, Kansas, USA.

Demirsoy, A., Yigit, N., Colak, E., Sozen, M. and Karatas, A. 2006. Rodents of Turkiye. Meteksan, Ankara.

Gurnell, J. and Pepper, H. 1993. A critical look at conserving the British red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris). Mammal Review 23: 127-137.

Gurnell, J. and Wauters, L. 1999. Sciurus vulgaris. In: A. J. Mitchell-Jones, G. Amori, W. Bogdanowicz, B. Kryštufek, P. J. H. Reijnders, F. Spitzenberger, M. Stubbe, J. B. M. Thissen, V. Vohralík, and J. Zima (eds), The Atlas of European Mammals, Academic Press, London, UK.

IUCN. 2016. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2016-3. Available at: (Accessed: 07 December 2016).

IUCN. 2017. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2017-1. Available at: (Accessed: 27 April 2017).

Mallon, D.P. 1985. The mammals of the Mongolian People's Republic. Mammal Review 15(2): 71-102.

McInnes, C. 2006. Mechanisms of Immune evasion by Orf Virus and the Identification of Virulence Genes. Available at:

Ministry of Nature and Environment. 2005. Manual for Foreign Hunters and Fishers. Ministry of Nature and Environment. State Inspection Agency and German Technical Cooperation, Ulaanbaatar.

O'Teangana, D., Reilly, S., Montgomery, W. I. and Rochford, J. 2000. Distribution and status of the red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) and grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) in Ireland.

Pacifici, M., Santini, L., Di Marco, M., Baisero, D., Francucci, L., Grottolo Marasini, G., Visconti, P. and Rondinini, C. 2013. Generation length for mammals. Nature Conservation 5: 87–94.

Panteleyev, P. A. 1998. The Rodents of the Palaearctic Composition and Areas. Pensoft, Moscow, Russia.

Rushton, S. P., Lurz, P. W. W., Gurnell, J., Nettleton, P., Bruemmer, C., Shirley, M. D. F. and Sainsbury, A. W. 2006. Disease threats posed by alien species: the role of a poxvirus in the decline of the native red squirrel in Britain. Epidemiology and Infection 134: 521-533.

Smith, A.T. and Xie, Y. 2008. A Guide to the Mammals of China. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey.

Spitzenberger F. 2002. Die Säugetierfauna Österreichs. Bundesministerium für Land- und Forstwirtschaft. Umwelt und Wasserwirtschaft, Band.

Stubbe, M. 1965. Jagd, Jagdgesetz und Wild in der Mongolischen Volksrepublik. Beiträge zur Jagd- und Wildforschung 4: 163-178.

Wauters, L. A., Currado, I., Mazzoglio, P. J. and Gurnell, J. 1997. Replacement of red squirrels by introduced grey squirrels in Italy: evidence from a distribution survey. In: J. Gurnell and P. W. W. Lurz (eds), The Conservation of Red Squirrels, Sciurus vulgaris L., pp. 79-88. People’s Trust for Endangered Species.

Wilson, D.E. and Reeder, D.M. 1993. Mammal Species of the World. A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC, USA.

Citation: Shar, S., Lkhagvasuren, D., Bertolino, S., Henttonen, H., Kryštufek, B. & Meinig, H. 2016. Sciurus vulgaris (errata version published in 2017). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T20025A115155900. . Downloaded on 18 June 2018.
Disclaimer: To make use of this information, please check the <Terms of Use>.
Feedback: If you see any errors or have any questions or suggestions on what is shown on this page, please provide us with feedback so that we can correct or extend the information provided