News and events

The latest news, events, issues and new publications that are essential to red squirrels and their conservation, both in the UK and the rest of Europe.

SquirrelWeb News (SquirrelWeb is maintained by an international team of researchers and enthusiasts)

News and events for:

Squirrelpox virus (SQPV) update and latest maps

About the virus

Squirrelpox virus is deadly to red squirrels and evidence suggests that it originated from grey squirrels transported from North America in the late 19th and early 20th Century. Whilst grey squirrels appear to carry a natural immunity to the virus, red squirrels do not. Animals infected with the virus seem to suffer a marked decline in their health and generally die within about two weeks of contracting the disease. At present, the spread of squirrelpox virus presents the greatest threat to retaining red squirrels across their current range.

Whilst previously recorded in the north of England, the Scottish red squirrel population appeared unaffected by squirrelpox virus until May 2005, when the first grey squirrel showing evidence that it had been exposed to the virus, (a ‘seropositive’ animal) was found in the Borders. The Red Squirrels in South Scotland project (RSSS), in partnership with Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), the Southern Upland Partnership and Red Alert South West are working to identify where Squirrelpox-carrying grey squirrels occur through a Squirrelpox Surveillance Program, as these are potentially high risk areas for virus outbreaks amongst red squirrels. Work continues, through the partnership, to track the disease and remove grey squirrels in areas where disease transmission to reds could occur. The Scottish Government is also funding a three-year project with the Moredun Research Institute to investigate the route of transmission of the virus by grey squirrels. It is hoped that this work will help to inform whether it will be possible to prevent further spread of this disease.

More information about what to do if you find a sick, injured or dead red squirrel 
(Red squirrels in South Scotland-FAQ)

Maps showing the locations of recorded cases of Squirrelpox virus

Thanks go to production of the maps by Simon O’Hare of ‘Save Our Squirrels’.

This data is provided by groups investigating two important diseases of red squirrels in Britain. It is donated by these groups to improve the science of all users in this field and to aid the conservation of the remaining Red Squirrel populations in the United Kingdom. If any of the data is used for publications, or any public work including internet publication, as a minimum we ask that data used is traced to source/sources and the source/sources fully acknowledged, or offered co-authorship. If this data is used in a peer-reviewed publication in a journal, or in a book chapter, we ask that the authors invite a representative of each of the datasets used to be a co-author on the publication.

Other maps

Other disease monitoring