Where To Find Squirrels In London

DannyH
By DannyH Last edited 8 months ago
Where To Find Squirrels In London
Why hello there! Photo by Robin via the Londonist Flickr pool.


Squirrels - we love 'em, and certainly don't need an excuse to look at the creatures' influence on the city. And use some squirrel photos.

History

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.”

The Squirrel pub

Where to see them

Squirrels are all over London, but perhaps the tamest of all are resident in St James’s Park. This is probably your best spot for a #squirrelselfie. If you want your squirrels with a little less habituated to humans, check out one of the many nature reserves that London Wildlife Trust manages.

Where to feed them

If you’re keen to feed them (though opinion varies on whether this is a good or bad thing, and there may be signs in some areas prohibiting it), they love nuts, especially unsalted peanuts.

Where to eat them

If you prefer to appreciate squirrels through the sense of taste, there are places you can eat them. Although we've never tried it ourselves, apparently they’re best in the spring when they have been feasting on delicious young shoots, or in the late autumn having gorged themselves on nuts.

Famous foodie haven St John in Smithfields, serves squirrel on occasion. Head Chef Jonathan Woolway says: “We braise squirrels with earthy flavours: bacon, shallot, woody herbs such as sage and bay, maybe some sweet sherry.”

London squirrels in fiction

In Robin Jarvis’s The Deptford Mice trilogy, Morwenna is an evil squirrel who betrayed the realm of Greenwich. You wouldn’t want her digging in your geraniums.

On the other hand, Squirrel Nutkin may well have been based on a real London squirrel. Children’s author Beatrix Potter was born in Bolton Gardens, South Kensington. She grew up there and kept many small animals as pets — what’s to say a real-life Nutkin wasn’t one of them?

The ROA squirrel in Club Row. Photo by Conor Cotter via the Londonist Flickr pool.

Squirrel art in London

Street artist Roa painted a squirrel on Club Row in Shoreditch a few years ago. Sadly it's no longer there, but you can still see what it looked like above. There was also a squirrel painted by anonymous duo Squirrel and Boe in Tottenham a couple of years ago.

The native red squirrel has been a feature in art for centuries — they were kept as London pets in the middle ages, and this is reflected in artworks, many housed at the British Library.

Squirrel pubs

If you fancy raising a toast to squirrels, why not head to The Squirrel in Maida Vale? The pub, run by ‘Team Squirrel,’ serves a mean Squirrel Steak Burger (although it’s made of beef, not the rodent).

Oh, and if you have a garden, you NEED to do this.

Last Updated 04 September 2017

Mike Paterson

Excellent article. The St James's Park ones are especially cheeky, it's true. Very common in cemeteries/graveyards, possible to get a good photo of one atop a gravestone if you're patient. As for eating them, I'll definitely give that a whirl sometime!

fluffy thoughts

Can't say I've ever looked at a squirrel and thought "I'd really like to know what that tastes likes.." :/

Ginger Tom

Red Squirrel reduced to a "lone creature in poor shape" OMG- emergency! I'm gonna eat grey squirrel kebabs 'til the little monsters are gone and I have belly ache. Totes worth it tho.

Guest

There's a great walk with plenty of squirrels right behind the Albert Memorial through the gardens in the direction of Kensington Palace.

George II

Here in the States we call the little buggers bushy tailed rats. As a young boy in Indiana my fater used to hunt the red squirrel in the fall to eat, here ya go, ready? "they taste like chicken"

Andy

There were red squirrels in Greenwich Park into at least the mid-1960s...

Herts Cockney

Folks living on the Northern fringes of London may be acquainted with the "Black" Squirrel. I believe it is a mutant of the Grey which originated somewhere in the Stevenage area. I've seen them in Hitchin. Has anybody spotted them further south than that?

Shirley Trimmer

This is a different view of the squirrel for me. Living in Canada, there is no excitement to see a squirrel. If there happens to be a black walnut tree nearby you will hope they do not decide to nest in your attic! They scurry about the yards as if they have ownership. It is a dread to here them in the wall or ceiling while trying to sleep.

Poppy

In Brunswick Park in Camberwell local residents held a memorial service after the death of the parks much loved albino squirrel a couple of years ago.

BethPH

We saw one on the Old Ford Road using a zebra crossing to get across the road. It waited for a gap between the cars then dashed across.

bleeps

I love the Russell Square squirrels the best. Though a squirrel in Harrow made a house burn down by chewing through the electrical cables..

Denlon Ondor

I like squirrels but unfortunately my neighbour caused me a lot of headache and asked me to stop feeding them for some medical or personal reasons and said they're tree rats, I was really shocked by such attitude toward animals !!

HHGeek

Rats with good PR.

Annette

Has anyone ever tried how humans taste? Now THAT might be an improvement for the environment! :/

Scott Wood

Hey? Isn't Londonist doing some sort of event about London wildlife on 2 November?