Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Squirrels - A Climate Change Cover-up

Well, I just had to share this amazing new science with you . . .

Wildlife Trusts and similar organisations in northern England are to be told to stop culling the bushy-tailed tree rat, better known as the Grey Squirrel, as new science has proved old theories incorrect, and that their presence is all due to climate change. We have always been led to believe the Grey Squirrel, (once thought to be an introduced species from North America), is ousting populations of our native Red Squirrel by infecting them with a deadly disease known as the squirrel-pox virus.

Charts denoting the increase in grey squirrel sightings
compared to red since the second world war
A wartime propaganda poster

Now, an article in the latest edition of Woodland Science Magazine reveals a 25-year scientific study into the decline of the red squirrel has made a startling discovery; that just like us humans, squirrels are living far longer than they did a hundred years ago, and that when red squirrels become a certain age, like us humans they begin to turn grey, meaning a vastly increased 'grey-haired' old age population has become more and more noticeable in the woodlands over the last 75 years.

"It is amazing zat zis as been overlooked all zese years" said Professor Avril de Feule of the Conserving Rodents Arborial Project , "and it as blown all zese previous theories about greys out-competing reds and killing zem off through disease completely out of ze trees" she added.

Prof. de Feule modelling an eye-catching white
overall with matching microscope.

And it's all to do with climate change. It is the younger squirrels we see which are chestnut red in colour and have longer and thicker fur than the more mature grey ones.

"Zis is because ze younger squirrels still need protection against ze elements in ze winter months" said Prof. de Feule, and added "but zey are gradually adapting to rising temperatures so by ze time zey reach middle-age zey are a lot fitter and stronger (hence ze noticeable difference in size) and begin to shed zeir thick coat for a lighter version which becomes bleached with ze stronger sunlight, and you will note zat a lot of so-called grey squirrels still retain a light red colouring as zey complete ze change, which is ultimately brought about by ze natural ageing process. You see, just like us humans, squirrels are really thriving today in ze better-managed woodlands and living a good sirty years longer zan zey did a century ago, ence the number of old aged grey-furred squirrels we see today."

An old red squirrel (left) and a young grey squirrel (right)
The north-south divide can also be explained in this way. Feule went on "Ze further north you go, obviously ze colder it gets, so in northern areas ze squirrel population retains ze thick red fur far longer zan in ze south, where ze climate is much milder all year round now. So each year in the south we are seeing new generations of squirrels being born without ze thick red fur at all as zey adapt and evolve vis the changing temperatures. Zat is why red squirrels ave been disappearing from zese southern areas."

Prof de Feule analysing some squirrel wee
(or is she just taking the piss)
"It is just like ze caterpillar and ze butterfly," she added. "Zey look completely different but zey are ze same creature, it eez no more zan a natural metomorphosis."

A butterfly (left) and a caterpillar (right)
All in all an amazing revelation which means all those grey squirrel culls in an attempt to save the reds have been totally unnecessary, and far from being demonised, our 'grey' squirrels need to be loved and admired like the cuter-looking red ones, as they are in fact, one and the same, just adapting and evolving to the change in climate, ultimately caused by our good selves.
A Member of Parliament and spokesman for the Country Gent Shoot-Anything-For-Fun Society said:
"Yes we've known about this for years, but shooting little furry animals is such fun we didn't like to say anything, what with a lot of people on our side in this case. Hope you can keep this under your hat old bean otherwise we'll have to find something else to tell lies about so we can shoot them all. Tally Ho and all that."
When asked if this could have repercussions in Parliament he said " Well, it probably won't go down well with the Town and City Members but I know best as after all I am a Country Member."
 Ah yes, we remember.

So when you go for your woodland walk in another hundred years time, no matter which part of the country you are in there probably won't be any reds left at all, but at least you now know why.

 Taken from Woodland Science Magazine Spring 2015 Edition

Article by Betty Swollocks