The use of nest boxes by the Red Squirrel Sciurus vulgaris in a coniferous habitat



This paper describes the results of a 4-year study examining the use of nest boxes by Red Squirrels. Two different designs of nest box were erected in a conifer woodland which supported a high density of animals; spring population estimates were between 3.5 and 4.0 individuals per hectare. Boxes were used by adults, subadults, lactating females and their young. Breeding females more frequently used the larger of the two box designs, although this preference was not statistically significant. There was no difference in the mean sizes of litters found within the two box types. The mean size of litters present in boxes was 2.7 (n = 31, SE = 0.23) which was similar to the mean litter size of 2.5 (n = 8, SE = 0.50) found in dreys. Thus, nest boxes proved to be a valuable research tool for monitoring parturition dates, litter sizes, nestling sex ratios, and preweaning mortality.