Kelling Heath Welcomes New LitterOf Endangered Red Squirrel Kittens
The kittens, yet to be named, were born to parents Iggy and Evie and are a welcome addition to the Park’s historic conservation efforts.
With the addition of this new litter, Kelling Heath has successfully bred 38 red squirrel kittens since joining the national conservation programme in 1999 as part of a scheme for captive breeding set up to protect this endangered native species.
David Martin, Countryside Manager at Kelling Heath Holiday Park located near Weybourne said: “We are overjoyed that Iggy and Evie have had a successful birth. A litter of four is incredibly rare for us and it is a privilege to watch them thrive. These kittens are the first at the Park since 2019, and we’re thrilled that our new breeding pair, who only came to us in October of last year, have settled in well.”
The sex of the kittens will be discovered when they are micro-chipped and moved to another enclosure in a few weeks’ times. Currently estimated to be around ten weeks old having been born in March 2022, Kelling Heath’s newest additions will now spend their time outside the nest box getting to grips with their new home. The kittens will learn skills such as tree climbing, jumping, and foraging for pine cones from their parents, while exploring the canopies of their protected enclosure.
“It’s a really positive sign that Iggy and Evie have had a healthy litter and we hope they will go on to have more kittens in future,” Mr Martin adds.
The kittens will stay at Kelling Heath or when ready, released to a nationwide conservation partner to help boost native populations across the UK. Red squirrels are an essential part of the regeneration of pine and it is hopeful that Kelling Heath’s kittens will one day move on to another breeding project in a forested location.
Kelling Heath was one of the last places in Norfolk that red squirrels called home before they disappeared from the region over 40 years ago due to competition for food with the non-native American grey squirrel.
David Martin, Kelling Heath’s Countryside Manager commented, “Conservation and supporting the biodiversity of the region remains a core element of our ethos at Kelling Heath. We are proud to be involved with supporting the legacy of an iconic British species like the red squirrel”.