Red squirrel breeding success in Norfolk helps protect endangered species across the UK

Red squirrels have been born at Kelling Heath in Norfolk.
Red squirrels have been born at Kelling Heath in Norfolk. Credit: Kelling Heath Holiday Park

Four red squirrels have been born in Norfolk as part of a captive breeding programme to help protect the endangered species across the country.

The red squirrel kittens emerged from their nest box at Kelling Heath Holiday Park near Weybourne in May and are thought to be about 10 weeks old.

It is hoped the kittens will one day be released to a forest that is part of a national conservation project to help increase native populations in the UK.

Kelling Heath was one of the last places in Norfolk that red squirrels called home before they disappeared from the region over 40 years ago due to competition for food with the non-native American grey squirrel.

The latest litter means Kelling Heath has now successfully bred 38 red squirrel kittens since joining the national conservation programme in 1999.

The red squirrels were bred has part of a captive breeding programme to help protect the endangered species. Credit: Kelling Heath Holiday Park

The kittens, which are yet to be named, were born to parents Iggy and Evie.

David Martin, Countryside Manager at Kelling Heath Holiday Park, said: “We are overjoyed that Iggy and Evie have had a successful birth.

"A litter of four is incredibly rare for us and it is a privilege to watch them thrive.

"These kittens are the first at the Park since 2019, and we’re thrilled that our new breeding pair, who only came to us in October of last year, have settled in well.

“Conservation and supporting the biodiversity of the region remains a core element of our ethos at Kelling Heath.

"We are proud to be involved with supporting the legacy of an iconic British species like the red squirrel”. 

The sex of the kittens will be discovered when they are micro-chipped and moved to another enclosure in a few weeks’ times.

They will now spend their time outside the nest box getting to grips with their new home.

The kittens will learn skills such as tree climbing, jumping, and foraging for pine cones from their parents, while exploring the canopies of their protected enclosure.

Red squirrels are an essential part of the regeneration of pine and it is hopeful that Kelling Heath’s kittens will one day move on to another breeding project in a forested location.

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