A Scurry of Squirrels – Review

A Scurry of Squirrels: Nurturing the Wild, by Polly Pullar, Birlinn, Edinburgh, 2021. ISBN-13 978-1780277042, 240 pages. RRP £9.99

A Scurry of Squirrels book cover

At first glance this is not, in any sense, a religious offering but the sub-title “Nurturing the Wild” points directly towards a key principle in our belief that we are all a part of a created world. Romain Pizzi in his foreword refers to Polly Pullar’s book as being “a poignant reminder for us to care for and nurture the wild before we lose it”. This engaging book also reminds us that our life’s troubles are seen in clearer perspective when viewed in the context of the part we play in the living world. In this regard, it is vital that we adopt non-judgmental and non-exploitative perspectives. Polly found herself better able to deal with life’s problems after she developed an interest in red squirrels while she was at boarding school.  This was an animal with a history reaching back many thousands of years and carrying a negative press, despite its charismatic and cute appearance, with claims of misdemeanours including damage to trees and bird eggs.

Most of the book is a very readable account of how the author devoted her life to the care of distressed wildlife, and in particular red squirrels. Her guiding principle was to retain the dignity of the animal, making a return to a fully wild state a priority – a difficult path to follow as the nurture of a young or distressed animal can inevitably lead to dependence. Her successes and failures are described in engaging and amusing detail and we are led to believe that Polly’s mother, Dr Doolittle and vet James Herriot were, in various ways, influential guides along the way!  We read of litters of ‘kits’ (baby squirrels) being raised from as young as four days, of wildlife-centred farm management in Scotland, of interaction with grey squirrels, and squirrel misbehaviour, all described in a very readable way, and aided by thirty or more colour photographs.

I thoroughly  enjoyed reading this book but am warned by the author to “remember that we hold the future of our precious wild things in the palm of our hands” and that “without nature, we are nothing”.

S John Harrison



Author: Ed Beale | Date: 4 October, 2023 | Category: Book Reviews | Comments: 0

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