Thursday, October 4, 2012
If the spread of the grey squirrel continues unchecked, the species could spread as far as France, the scientists fear.
Grey squirrels were introduced into Italy relatively recently, in 1948. They were a gift from the US ambassador and kept in Turin, but escaped into the wild and rapidly colonized the surrounding area.
Grey squirrels are not only more aggressive than the native European red squirrel, which causes them to invade red-dominated areas and take over, but they also carry a deadly virus, the squirrel pox. While greys are largely immune to the virus, it is lethal to red squirrels, which typically die within one or two weeks of being infected.