Seeing reds


Autumn. Season of mists and squirrel marketing campaigns. Those shy reds, rarely seen in British woods, are everywhere. Peeking out of shop windows. Scurrying across your TV screen. Popping up between the pages of your favourite magazine.

Squirrels sell. But what of other rodents? I’m curious. So I’m tracking down all brand-savvy rodents and documenting them in their unnatural habitats. Enjoy the blog!

Red squirrel in feeder

Does my bum look big in this? © bmnorthernlight

Smithwick’s squirrel — pint-sized hero

Finally! A red squirrel makes the leap from bit-part actor to action hero. It’s heady stuff – the wily rodent overcomes all odds to brew himself a tiny pint of ale. Adweek named it ad of the day, musing on how ad executives sold that idea to the client. Squirrels and real ale. A step up from selling chocolate and savings accounts. As those geniuses at adam&eveDDB nearly said: “Squirrels – it’s what you do with them that counts.”

Grey squirrel framed for Black Death

The Guardian's report on plague-carrying ground squirrels, illustrated by a grey squirrel lunging towards the lens

A case of mistaken identity? Click on the image to read the full story in the Guardian.

Grey squirrels get a bad rap in the British press. Legally classed as vermin, they are icons of pestilence. Look at this plague-carrying demon lunging towards the lens in the Guardian. The article reveals that the infected animal is a California ground squirrel. Several readers have questioned the identity of the beast, but picture editors insist they’ve got their squirrel.

Attenborough’s bald beauties

Click to visit BBC Nature resources on the naked mole rat

Click to visit BBC Nature resources on the naked mole rat

Naked mole rats featured on the BBC’s recent Africa series. These bizarre rodents live underground in social colonies – like ants. A single queen gives birth to armies of worker rats. They can run backwards as well as forwards, allowing them to reverse down narrow tunnels. David Attenborough described them as “sabre-toothed sausages”. The video clip is worth watching just to hear him say it!

Merry Xmouse


Gawking at Fenwick’s window is a Christmas tradition in Newcastle. Rodents often feature, twirling their animatronic heads to a surreal medley of seasonal tunes. I was hoping for singing squirrels, but this year it is travelling mice. Here’s a game to keep the kids occupied on Christmas eve: how many different mouse-mobiles can you spot? Wishing you all a very merry Christmas!

Winter wondermice

White mice and chocolate truffles

Poster display, Hotel Chocolat. Original advertising photography: Kevin Mackintosh

White mice. Cinderella’s coachmen or Miss Haversham’s house guests? Another surreal still life for Hotel Chocolat by master photographer Kevin Mackintosh. Wonderful!