The British Isles are home to some of the most unique wildlife in the world. With a range of climates and habitats, spanning form the chilly temperatures of Scotland, to the temperate, palm tree lined English Riviera on the south coast, Great Britain is a special place for wildlife lovers. These are just a small selection of the wonderful wildlife that call Britain their home – and where they can be found…
Otter – The favourite resident of Britain’s waterways was sadly nearly extinct by the 1960s due to habitat destruction, pesticides, and hunting. But their population is now happily on the increase once again and some lucky visitors to the rivers may well spot one – or even a family! Dawn and dusk are the best times to spot these notoriously shy creatures going about their business, and it really is a magical sight to see. If you want to be guaranteed seeing otters, then visit the Otters and Butterflies centre in Buckfastleigh and support the great work that they do in bringing these beautiful creatures back to their rightful home.
Badger – Britain’s largest land carnivore, like the otter, has also suffered from human persecution. They are blamed for spreading bovine tuberculosis, although no conclusion has been reached into whether they actually do, which has led to many farmers wanting to cull them. Badgers are protected by law now, with badger baiting being illegal, and it is also an offence to cause damage to their setts (a series of underground tunnels that they live in). Badgers live in social groups in their setts which can be as large as twelve adults.
Red Fox – One of Britain’s most resourceful animals, foxes are known as cunning for good reason! It is skilled at adapting to many environments, town or countryside, and is good at making the best of what it has. The fox gives birth in spring to a litter of cubs who stay with the female (the vixen) until the Autumn of the same year, learning how to hunt and survive. They are an unmistakeable sight with their red coat and bushy tail – they are wonderful sight to see in the fields on a misty Autumn morning.
Brown Hare – Most commonly found in Scotland, the sight of two Brown Hares ‘boxing’ in the fields is fantastic. Two male hares will stand up on their hind legs and attack each other, like boxers in a ring. It is not only two male hares that box though, often a female will fight a male to ward off his advances. Apart from the boxing, they are easy to differentiate from rabbits due to their much longer limbs, and are much faster! If you like hares, have a look at bronze animal sculptures by Gill Parker.