There are fears that the deadly Squirrel pox virus could wipe out Anglesey’s red squirrel population “in a matter of months” after a third red squirrel has died of the disease in the Bangor area.
Squirrel pox is usually carried by grey squirrels, but they are immune to it, however it is usually fatal in the red species.
The dead squirrels have been found in the Treborth area of Bangor and the Red Squirrel Trust Wales fear that infected squirrels could travel across to Anglesey.
There are about 800 red squirrels on the Anglesey and the population is now at severe risk.
Holly Peek, red squirrel ranger for Gwynedd and Anglesey, said there are lots of red squirrels near bridges linking the two areas, and if an infected squirrel went over to the island “it would be devastating”.
“Over the past 20 years we’ve brought the population on the island from 40 to 800 and all that population would be at risk,” she said.
Symptoms of squirrel pox, which cannot be spread to humans, includes scabs, blisters or grazes on the feet, nose, mouth and eyes. The squirrel may also appear sluggish.
Red Squirrel Trust Wales have asked for the public help by:
- Reporting dead or dying red squirrels; including road deaths as soon as possible.
- Scatter feeding on the ground rather than using feeders which can help spread the disease between animals.
- Look carefully at red squirrels visiting your garden, or that you may see in woodlands elsewhere, and report any that seem sluggish and/or that have scabs, blisters or grazes on the feet, nose, mouth and/or eyes.
You can contact Red Squirrel Trust Wales on 07966 150847 or by Email firstname.lastname@example.org