Eurasian red squirrel

Helsinki’s signature animal

Eurasian red squirrel, photo Eero Haapanen.

Unlike all the other mammals found in Finland, the Eurasian red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) is diurnal, making it our most visible mammal. The Eurasian red squirrel’s diet consists primarily of spruce seeds, but as an omnivore it also eats bird eggs and chicks, berries, fruit, insects and fungi. Acorns are also an important food source for them wherever oaks grow. The Eurasian red squirrel also stores food for the winter.

It gives birth to two litters per year; the first in May–June and the second in late summer. In Helsinki, Eurasian red squirrels can be found wherever there are spruce trees. It is notably absent from the noble deciduous tree parks in the city centre.

The Eurasian red squirrel becomes tame very easily. Seurasaari island, in particular, has been known for its tame squirrels since the 1930s. There is even a squirrel grave on Seurasaari from 1954. The epitaph on the headstone reads: “Here lies the oldest squirrel on the island who was stoned to death by boys.”

Orava Seurasaaressa, kuva Jussi Helimäki.

An Eurasian red squirrel on Seurasaari island, photo Jussi Helimäki.