Helensburgh's animal lovers are being urged to take part in the fifth nationwide Great Scottish Squirrel Survey next month. 

The survey takes place during National Red Squirrel Week between October 2 and 8, and encourages the public to explore outdoors and get spotting. 

Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels is a partnership project led by the Scottish Wildlife Trust, working in priority areas to protect red squirrels from the spread of the invasive non-native grey squirrel.

The annual Great Scottish Squirrel Survey is the most important public event for comparing yearly distributions of red and grey squirrels.

Last year the charity received 10,484 sightings in total with the help of the survey, its third highest year since they began collecting public squirrel sightings in 2010. 

Programme Manager Nicole Still said: “Public sightings play an essential role in informing and directing our strategic efforts.

"We would love the public to once again head outside and help us increase our sightings to improve our understanding of Scotland’s squirrel populations”.

Grey squirrels were introduced to Scotland in Victorian times and have since replaced our native red squirrel in many parts of the country.

They out-compete reds for food and living space and can also carry squirrelpox, a virus that doesn’t harm them but is fatal to reds.

For more information and to log your sightings, go to www.scottishsquirrels.org.uk/great-scottish-squirrel-survey