Man feeding squirrels

Horse Guards Rd, London SW1A, UK 📍

As most people know, the grey squirrel we commonly spot around the capital is an American species, with the first pair released in Henbury Park in Cheshire in 1876. It's not really known why this was done — speculation is that people enjoyed seeing the 'exotic' animals — and the Victorians had no understanding of the risks of introducing non-native animals to an eco-system. The releasing of the critters was only banned in 1930, but by then it was too late for most of the reds. Greys are better at finding food and shelter than reds — they also spread the killer squirrel-pox virus. They’re immune themselves, but the reds are not.There are no native red squirrels in London any longer — naturally-occurring reds died out in the 1920s.But that doesn't mean they're not occasionally spotted. Ian Tokelove from the London Wildlife Trust says one was sighted a few months ago, but the grainy photo taken showed a lone creature in poor shape.“Misguided and unofficial attempts to reintroduce the red squirrel to London do take place, and at London Wildlife Trust we receive occasional sightings, but sadly these squirrels have very little chance of long term survival.”