Super dad red squirrel enjoys a well-earned retirement

Radish, the red squirrel

Radish, the red squirrel - Credit: Wildwood Trust

Staff at wildlife conservation charity, Wildwood Escot will be waving goodbye to one of their favourite animals this week when Radish, the red squirrel, leaves the park to enjoy a well-earned retirement.

Five-year-old Radish has been the engine of the charity’s successful red squirrel breeding programme in Devon, leading the fight against red squirrel population decline since 2018.

Senior keeper, Ben Gregory said: “Radish is a real star. He has played a crucial role in our breeding efforts producing a total of twelve kits for release projects. We’re all sorry to see him go, but he’s certainly earned his retirement.”

Radish is set to be released into a spacious walk-through woodland enclosure at the charity’s Kent site. There, he will join a small group of males, which includes other veterans, in the fight to save the red squirrel.

“We also have an open woodland habitat here in Devon” added Ben.

“But in order to have proper control over breeding, ours is an all-female facility whilst the enclosure at our sister park in Kent is all-male.

"In addition to providing an excellent opportunity for visitors to see this iconic species in their natural habitat, these amazing woodland habitats enable us to provide a fitting retirement for both our male and female squirrels once they’ve left the programme.”

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General Manager at Wildwood Escot, George Hyde said: “Radish has played a vital role in the long, ongoing battle against the grey invasion, but his contribution would be impossible without the generosity of our supporters.

"At this time of year we see a spike of interest in our red squirrel adoptions and hand-feeding experiences which, in addition to funding our breeding and release programme, make ideal Christmas gifts.”

The Wildwood Trust recently began working with Natural Resources Wales on a new release programme, which will see young squirrels bred in Devon and Kent released into controlled sites in the Welsh countryside.

Carrying on the family tradition, Radish’s son, Bonsai, will be paired with a new female red squirrel arriving soon from Welsh Mountain Zoo.

The staff at Wildwood Escot are confident that Radish’s legacy will continue with his grandchildren following their aunts and uncles, released into the British countryside next year.