RSPCA: Red alert! Injured red squirrel rescued and returned home

An injured red squirrel has scampered up a tree back home after being nursed back to health at a RSPCA wildlife centre.

The protected mammal was found rolling around on his back in a middle of a busy road in Workington, Cumbria on New Year’s Day after being hit by a car.

His shoulder was fractured which meant it was unable to walk or move so he was taken to Stapeley Grange wildlife centre in Cheshire to recuperate, and released back to the wild last Thursday (February 23).

David Graham, 25, was on his way back from a festive party with his girlfriend when they spotted the animal in peril and decided to rescue it.

He said: “Cars were swerving all round – he wouldn’t have had a chance if left where he was. So we turned back and waited for a break in the traffic to run and get him, and wrap him in one of our coats.

“There was another squirrel dodging cars to run back and forth to him, so we were worried he would get hit also.

“It’s so great to hear the squirrel has now been returned to the wild in good health – I hope he finds his mate again.”

The squirrel was a rare sight at the wildlife centre – which has in its care an average of one red squirrel a year. The mammals have declined quite markedly in Britain over a number of decades and can now only be found in a few areas of the country. They are listed as a priority species for conservation in UK conservation action plans.

It took the squirrel nearly two months of ‘bed rest’ and painkillers to recuperate at the wildlife centre, before he was released in woodlands at Stainburn Park near to where he was found.

RSPCA inspector Martyn Fletcher said: “He didn’t move out of his box for the first three minutes, just poked his head out and looked around nervously.

“Then, as quick as lightning, he dashed out and ran straight up the biggest, tallest pine tree around. He had obviously been thinking, planning and eyeing it up – his instincts still firmly in place.

“It’s often bad news when we are called out to traffic incidents involving red squirrels – so it’s heartwarming that there was a happy ending this time. Clearly every red squirrel we manage to rescue, care for and return back to the wild is going to benefit the struggling population.”

Notes to editors

— Images and interviews of the release are available, please contact the press office on 0300 123 0244/0288.


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Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals registered charity no: 219099 Registered office: RSPCA, Wilberforce Way, Southwater, Horsham, West Sussex, RH13 9RS