Red Squirrel

Original by Shane Swann

Medium Acrylic, coloured pencil and pen.
Size A4

I started this drawing, as I wanted to try adding colour to my intricate drawing style. This is because on my next large illustration, I want to use colour and thought it would be wise to try it out on a small piece first.

– The native British red squirrel’s population has massively declined over the last 150 years, and may eventually completely disappear from the UK. There was a time when their population was estimated at around 3.5 million across the UK – Today’s estimation is about 120’000, with only about 15’000 left in England. Their decline began in the 1870s with introduction to Britain of the American grey squirrel. Grey squirrels were shipped to the UK at this time as fashionable exotic editions to country manner estates and public parks. However the grey’s population began to grow rapidly and spread across the UK. The greys are not aggressive to the reds, but their introduction to the UK is the main cause for the red’s population drop. Basically the greys are far better at surviving in the habitat, and out compete the reds. The second issue is that both greys and reds can become infected with the squirrel poxvirus. This kills the reds, but not does harm the greys who then become infectious carriers. The greys are often demonised because of this, but is it really their fault they are here?

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