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2 Apr 2019

Tetrad feeder-box survey at Threave Garden & Estate

A red squirrel at Threave Garden & Estate
Threave Conservation Volunteers Alan and Alistair are monitoring for the presence of red and grey squirrels in varied woodland habitats across Threave Estate.

Working with Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels and the Scottish Wildlife Trust, our Conservation Volunteers have carefully chosen 2km x 2km square areas, known as ‘tetrads’, in which to monitor the presence of red and grey squirrels. The approach to the survey has a scientific foundation to ensure accuracy and an evidence-based conclusion to the collected results.

There are a total of 115 tetrads under survey, with 74 across Dumfries & Galloway, Ayrshire and part of South Lanarkshire. The survey is carried out each spring using four hair-trap feeder boxes in each tetrad. On the inside of the feeder box lid is a removable sticky pad. The trap is baited and any squirrel entering the feeder box will leave a small hair sample on the pad. The bait is a mixture of peanuts, maize and sunflower seeds - this is recognised as the most beneficial combination to a squirrel’s diet.

The pads are collected every two weeks. Once the pads are collected, the feeder station is re-baited and new sticky pads attached. This process occurs three times over six weeks, so three sticky pads are collected from each box every two weeks.

A red squirrel opening a feeder box at Threave Garden & Estate
A red squirrel opening a feeder box at Threave Garden & Estate

The sticky pads are analysed by microscope to determine the presence of red or grey squirrels. The collected data contributes towards a detailed understanding of red and grey distribution over time across the project areas, and helps to measure the impact of the red squirrel conservation project.

This is valuable conservation work in action.

A red squirrel found at Threave Garden & Estate
A red squirrel found at Threave Garden & Estate

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