To supplementary feed the red squirrel effectively we needed a red squirrel only feeder that would exclude the grey squirrels. We tried out different feeders, both commercial and home-made, to try and find one that fulfilled the needs of the red squirrel and was easy for the volunteers to use. Adult grey squirrels are approximately twice the weight and size of an adult red squirrel so we had to outsmart the cunning greys by designing a feeder that denied them access, and only allowed the red squirrels in.`
The McComb Red Squirrel Feeder evolved through observation, experimentation, trail and error. It is made of steel which the greys cannot gnaw through. Steel does not absorb body fluids as the earlier wooden feeders did, which makes these feeders more hygienic, lightweight and easier to clean
The supplementary feed for the red squirrels is a mixture of maize kernels, sunflower hearts, peanuts and hazel nuts in their shells. They also like to eat apples and carrots. .
Looking after the feeders demands serious commitment from the volunteers and Forest Service staff, as they must be filled with the appropriate amount of feed once a week, and regularly checked for damage. Most importantly they must be taken down at least every week and thoroughly cleaned and disinfected with a recommended anti-squirrel pox disinfectant and relocated on a new tree. Continuous visual checks of the red squirrels using the feeders is necessary to record numbers, new kittens, diseased or injured animals etc.
Showing the stars and crew of TG4 supplementary feeding using the McComb Feeder