Book review: ‘A Scurry of Squirrels: Nurturing the Wild’

Cover of the book, 'A Scurry of Squirrels'
Wildlife rehabilitator Polly Pullar explores her work with red squirrels and other creatures on her farm in the Scottish Highlands.
By Sally Rosenthal

A Scurry of Squirrels: Nurturing the Wild by Polly Pullar. Birlinn, 2023. Softcover, 240 pages.

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One person alone can’t save the planet, but an individual with passion and determination can save a small part. Consider naturalist and wildlife rehabilitator Polly Pullar, for example. For over 20 years, she has devoted herself to re-wilding her Perthshire farm and tending to the creatures who inhabit that bit of cultivated wilderness nestled in the Scottish Highlands.

In her latest book, A Scurry of Squirrels: Nurturing the Wild, she focuses on one particular animal, the near-extinct red squirrel, and her attempt to reintroduce this once-abundant and beloved animal to the United Kingdom.

Polly’s narrative is part history of red squirrels and their decline over many decades and part memoir of her life and wildlife rehabilitation work. Far from dry, the historical account is highly readable and informative for people not familiar with these squirrels. And the memoir sections, filled with tales of raising abandoned kits and other creatures before releasing them into their natural environment, are pure enchantment.

Polly is a staunch believer in allowing rural land to reclaim its natural wildness for the sake of all the creatures who inhabit it. In addition to her care of wild animals, she makes a compelling case for nurturing not only her farm’s wildness but for others to take the same path.

All in all, A Scurry of Squirrels is a book that draws in readers with Polly’s vast knowledge and humanity.

A rock squirrel standing on a branch
Photo by Molly Wald

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