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British Woodland Animals, what can you spot?

Deer

There are 6 living species of Deer in Britain, two are native the Red and Roe Deer. The Muntjac being the smallest and the Red being the largest. Only the males have antlers, which they use when fighting for a mate or in the rut season where the males will rub them against the bark of trees and branches. Deers prefer more open woodlands in which to runsafely. Believed to be at their highest number in years at 1.5 million.

Squirrel

In Britain we have Grey and Red Squirrels, the Red is native and after the introduction of the much larger Grey Squirrel which carry disease and pests and has a much larger appetite, eating 7 times thanthe Reds. Grey squirrels were introduced from North America in 1910 and have almost replaced our Reds, with only a few in the most northern parts of the country.

Badger

Badgers are from the Weasel family and are very social nocturnal animals. They tunnel underground between 20-100 meters. You can easily spot their dens as they look like large moulds of loosened earth with a big odd looking hole. In a family there can be between 5-10 living together, they have a varied diet and are called “opportunistic omnivores” meaning they will eat round about anything from worms and snails to bees, nuts and eggs.

Fox

Being a member of the dog family Foxes when captured can live up to 14 years but in the wild rarely live beyond 2 years old. As many as 100,000 are killed every year on the road side. These are territorial animals that mate for life even if it is a short one. They have an annual litter once a year between 4 and 5 cubs in March and eat anything from small birds and worms to rummaging into rubbish bins.

Birds

As of February 2015 there are 598 different species of birds in Britain.

Across the Internet you can find bird spotter guides to help identify them. Nature Detectives websites helps children through fun games learning the different species from Jays, Nuthatches to Buzzards and Hawks.

Help the RSPB and take part in their yearly garden watch to help monitor our birds in the wild.

There are 1000’s of different mini beasts and insects to be found in any woodland all you have to do is look closely. In Britain you will find spiders, ladybirds, worms, beetles, wasps, bees, ants, woodlice, water boatmen and the list could really go on and on. Look closely around trees at their roots and any dead bark, others can be found flying, crawling and climbing further up the tree.

Insects

Rabbit

Rabbits can be found in woodlands and along field and meadow hedges. We even have a family amongst the bark chip living together in underground warrens. They are very sociable creatures and can have up to 7 babies in one litter. They will reproduce and have litters between 4 and 5 times a year.

They nap during the day and live on weeds and grasses. Their long ears help them hear predator’s and their back legs give them a powerful run.

Mice

You can find several different species of mice in Britain all of which will have around 10 babies per litter and will produce 4-7 litters a year!! They feed on nuts, grain, roots, insects and anything they may come across if they venture into your home! The Harvest mice being the smallest at 5-7 centimetres in height and weighs less than a 2p coin. The Wood Mouse being the more common and widespread to see, these can grow to 10 centimetres.

Rats

Again there are several kinds across Britain with the Brown Rat being the most widespread and abundant mammal. They are a social species which can grown to 500g in weight with few living longer than a year in the wild but in captivity can live between 4-7 years. They are omnivore and will eat absolutely anything. They have 6-11 litters a year with between 6-11 babies per litter. The pre-breeding population was 6.5 million and this doesn’t include sewers, rubbish tips and industrial units.

Voles

Water, Field and Bank are all British Vole species. Voles can be distinguished by their round face, blunt nose and tiny ears. Water voles are slightly larger thanothers voles but all are in decline due to loss of habitat. They have been listed as a priority species for conservation (UK Biodiversity Action Plan). Voles can live up to a year in the wild and mainly eat grass and leaves sleeping in nests that they have built in logs, grasses and hedgerows.

Snakes

The only venomous snake native to Britain is the Adder but they are not aggressive and will only use their venom as a last defence (or if stood on). No one in over 20 years have died from an Adder bite. They can be found in open woodlands and meadows, they hibernate during the winter and when spring comes they emerge on pathways to warm themselves. They do not lay eggs instead they give birth to babies the of small earth worms in late August. They enjoy a diet of small rodents and can be identified by their zigzag spines.

Hedgehogs

Hedgehogs take their names from the pig like habit of rooting around the undergrowth for food making noisy snuffling and grunting sounds. They are the only spikey mammal with an estimate of 5000 spines on their bodies. They mainly feast on worms, slugs, snails and beetles and prefer to hunt and venture out at night. Hedgehogs can live up to 5 years old in the wild due to the lack of predators and spiny defence. Their average litter is between 4-6 babies.

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