Baby red squirrels take flight from Surrey to the Isles of Scilly to boost breeding

Merrist Wood squirrel Fleecy frolics

Merrist Wood squirrel Fleecy frolics - Credit: Archant

Baby red squirrels recently took a trip by Royal Navy helicopter from the British Wildlife Centre in Lingfield to Tresco on the Isles of Scilly to boost a breeding experiment.

This new colony of squirrels will live in the beautiful Tresco Abbey Gardens and hopefully will continue to breed naturally and boost numbers of red squirrels on the island.

The Animal Management Department at Merrist Wood College near Guildford has been successfully breeding rare red squirrels in a coup for a national conservation campaign to save the species.

Now they hope to continue that work on a wider scale by breeding more red squirrels and working with the British Wildlife Centre.The campaign aims to combat the threat to the native red squirrel population, which has been drastically reduced by squirrel pox (parapoxvirus), which is carried by the grey squirrels that were introduced in the UK in the late 19th century.

Grey squirrels have built up a natural immunity to the virus, but it is fatal to red squirrels, which are now extinct in many parts of Great Britain.

According to the Forestry Commission there are about 140,000 red squirrels left in the wild, compared with more than two million greys.