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Species of Squirrels in Germany & 3 Threats They Are Facing

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There is one species of squirrel in Germany: the Eurasian red squirrel. These are native to the country. European ground squirrels used to live in Germany as well but died out.

Germany is famed for their fairytale forests, like the Black Forest, so it’s easy to assume that the squirrels there are thriving. 

However, Germany’s native tree squirrels are under stress and the country already lost a species of native ground squirrels in the 1980s. 

That leads to the question: What types of squirrels are native to Germany and why are they under threat? 

In the following article, we answer these questions and look at what is being done to protect native squirrels in Germany. 

Native Squirrels in Germany 

The Eurasian red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) is native to Germany. They are the most common European squirrel native to Central Europe. 

Eurasian red squirrels are tree squirrels found in deciduous and coniferous in Europe. They build their nests in forests with mature trees that provide them with an abundance of seeds or acorns.[1] 

The European red squirrel weighs between 7–14 ounces (200–400 grams) and measures 7.8–9.8 inches (20–25 centimeters) in length. 

In comparison to their body size, their paws are large. Their large paws help them jump from tree to tree. 

They have long tufts of hair on their ears and long furry tails.[2] Although they are called red squirrels, their coat color varies more than any other mammal in the Palearctic region. 

Native Squirrels in Germany

Eurasian Red Squirrels’ Coat Colors 

All Eurasian red squirrels have creamy white fur on their bellies, but their coat color ranges depending on the area they live in and the season. These coat colors include 

  • Orange-red
  • Reddish brown
  • Brown
  • Gray-brown  
  • Black

In winter, their coats are thicker, grayer, and cover their feet. Their ear tufts also grow longer. 

Species Eurasian red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris)
Description Coat colors range from orange-red and reddish-brown to gray and black. Long tufts of hair on its ears and a long furry tail. 
Size 7.8 -9.8 inches (20 – 25 cm)
Habitat Deciduous and coniferous forests.
Average Lifespan 12 years

Another squirrel native to Germany is the European ground squirrel (Spermophilus citellus). 

These burrowing squirrels were eradicated from Germany in the 1980s. The last German subpopulation of European ground squirrels was found along the Ore Mountains that run along the German-Czech border. [3] 

Today European ground squirrels live in the following:

  • Czech Republic
  • Austria
  • Hungary
  • Slovakia
  • Serbia
  • Romania
  • Eastern Serbia
  • Macedonia
  • Northern Greece
  • Bulgaria
  • Turkish Thrace
  • Moldova
  • and Ukraine[4] 

Conservations hope to reintroduce European ground squirrels to Germany. 

Related: Tree Squirrels vs. Ground Squirrels: How To Tell The Difference

Are There Gray Squirrels In Germany? 

No, there is no evidence that the American gray squirrel has found its way to Germany yet.

Eastern Gray Squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis) have displaced native Eurasian red squirrels in many parts of the UK and Italy. This is because they are bigger, more aggressive, and more resilient to diseases like squirrel pox than Eurasian red squirrels.

There are concerns that the Eastern gray squirrels will migrate to Germany and wreck havoc on the country’s red squirrel population and forest biodiversity. 

Eastern Gray Squirrels

3 Threats Facing Native Squirrels in Germany 

The threats facing native squirrels in Germany are loss of natural habitat, urbanization, and the threat of invasive Eastern gray squirrels. 

In Germany, squirrels are protected under the Federal Species Protection Ordinance which aims to protect biodiversity.[5] 

Although they are not listed as endangered, the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species has noted that Eurasian red squirrel populations are in decline. [6] 

It is an increasing challenge to protect native squirrels from the following threats: 

  1. Natural habitat loss
  2. Living among humans 
  3. Invasive squirrel populations 

1. Loss of Natural Habitat 

Loss of Natural Habitat

Germany’s forests have lost more than one million established trees since 2018. This is due to climate change-related drought, winter storms, and bark beetle plagues.[7] 

With German forests under threat, animals that can tolerate living near humans are moving into urban areas. They do so in search of food and shelter. 

While the number of squirrels in forests has decreased, cities have seen a significant increase in the number of squirrels[8]. Squirrels are excellent scavengers that adapt to living in urban parks and tree-lined suburbs. 

2. Living Among Humans 

Living Among Humans

Life in cities does pose new dangers for squirrels, particularly the threat of being run over by cars. 

In Berlin, animal rights organization Aktion Tier has tried to alleviate this threat by installing squirrel bridges. 

A squirrel bridge is a piece of rope tied from one tree to another tree across a busy road, offering squirrels a safe way to get across a road. 

According to Aktion Tier, more wild animals are living in the city than in natural environments.[9] 

3. The Threat of Eastern Gray Squirrels 

The Threat of Eastern Gray Squirrels

The European Squirrel Initiative (ESI) is working to protect native Eurasian red squirrels from the invasive Eastern gray squirrel. 

The ESI says that the gray squirrels pose one of the greatest threats to European biodiversity. They damage trees by removing bark and displacing native red squirrels but out-competing them for food. 

Eastern gray squirrels are also carriers of the squirrel pox virus. It doesn’t affect gray squirrels but disseminates red squirrel populations. 

There is concern that a colony of gray squirrels in Ticino Valley in Lombardia, Italy, can spread into Switzerland and then into Germany in the next 10 -20 years.[10]

The European Squirrel Initiative calls on European countries to persuade Italy to eradicate their invasive American gray squirrel population before they spread to France, Switzerland, and Germany.  

Conclusion 

Squirrels native to Germany are under threat. The good news is that there is a drive to protect them under the Federal Species Protection Ordinance.

Animal conservation organizations, like the Aktion Tier and the European Squirrel Initiative, are raising awareness about the need to conserve Germany’s Eurasian red squirrel and stop invasive Eastern gray squirrels from displacing this native squirrel population. 

FAQs

What Color Are the Squirrels That Are Native to Europe?

The Eurasian red squirrel is a tree squirrel that is native to Europe. They all have creamy white underside fur, but their coat color ranges from orange-red, reddish-brown, brown, and gray-brown to black. The color of their coats differs according to season and area. 

How Are People Trying To Protect Native Squirrels In Germany? 

Conservations are working to raise awareness about the need to protect Germany’s native Eurasian red squirrels. In urban areas, animal activists have installed squirrel bridges (a rope tied from a tree on one side of a busy road to a tree on the other side) to reduce squirrel traffic fatalities.   

About Monique Warner

Monique is an avid dog lover who grew up with dogs, cats, and budgies as pets. She has worked as a pet sitter and dog walker. With her passion for dogs and pets alike, she writes articles with the intention of helping pet owners solve their biggest struggles.

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