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Springing to life

Grey squirrels were introduced from America in 1876 and have made the most of urban living. Like the red squirrels, they have a winter mating season. In early February the females begin to collect dry leaves and bark to line the drey in which they will soon give birth, high in a tree. The nursery drey can be the size of a football and strong strips of bark are used to bind it together. Female comes into season for only one day in each oestrous cycle and the males must not miss the opportunity to mate. The scent of a female in season attracts a potential mate. The male responds by flicking his tail and chattering loudly, but this attracts other males. Only then does the female set off through the trees to test her suitors' mettle. In the confusion some males can end up chasing the tails of other males. But in the end the female will be mated by the one who outruns her and is therefore probably the healthiest. Males do not help to raise the young which will be born in early spring.

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4 minutes

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