Animal lovers, get ready! Here are some magnificent examples of the abundance of fauna throughout the UK!
An amazing array of birds can be found all over the United Kingdom. Some are there year-round while other are seasonal visitors who make the UK their breeding ground or winter home. Many are quite distinct with brightly colored beaks, feet or feathers, while others are noted for their size or their peculiar behavior. The UK's collection of feathered friends certainly provides bird watchers with all the eye candy they need!
Plenty of reptiles and amphibians also call the UK home. They can be found in wooded areas, grassland, near pools and rivers, as well as on several of the outlying islands. Speaking of which, it is remarkable how different species and subspecies of animals on these islands have developed over the course of millennia in their relative isolation.
Some of the species have been named for the islands they inhabit. Can you think of any examples of them? Some are waiting in the quiz. See if you can find them!
Zoologists could fly through this quiz with the greatest of ease, but you don't have to be one to completely ace it. Prove your love and knowledge of all things wild in UK - start the quiz, now!
The golden eagle is the second largest bird of prey in the UK after the white-tailed eagle. A pair of golden eagles will mate for life, and estimates say there are over 400 breeding pairs of golden eagles in the UK. Instead of building new nests, generations of golden eagle have been known to reuse nests.
The UK was home to lions and lynxes thousands of years ago, but these have since become extinct. The only remaining indigenous wild feline in the UK is the Scottish wildcat, and it is now at risk of becoming an endangered species. Among the risks to its existence are overhunting by humans, loss of habitat and interbreeding with the domestic cat (or hybridization).
As its name might suggest, the common shrew is one of the most abundant mammals in Britain. Its features account for many people mistakenly calling it a rodent, but the common shrew is actually a close relative of moles and hedgehogs. It is no more closely related to a mouse than it is to humans!
The barred grass snake made headlines in August 2017, when it was recognized by a team of international scientists as a separate species of snake. It is a nonvenomous snake, whose diet is primarily made up of amphibians, such as frogs and newts.
The Fair Isle wren is found on the island of Fair Isle in Scotland. It is regarded as a sub-species of wren, with unique characteristics attributed to its relative isolation from the general wren population. The Fair Isle wren population is quite small, with some estimates placing it at between 10 and 50 birds.
The basking shark is notable for being one of the largest sharks in the world; second only to the whale shark. Due to excessive hunting by humans, it currently has a “vulnerable species” conservation status.
The long, downcurved bill of the curlew is one easy way to recognize the largest of Europe’s wading birds. While wading in the UK coastline, the curlew feeds on shellfish, shrimp and worms.
The natterjack toad is primarily found in the western reaches of mainland Europe. It was historically found throughout the British Isles as well, but is now severely threatened and restricted to select coastal regions.
The slow worm is neither a worm (as suggested by its name) nor a snake (as suggested by its appearance). It is, in fact, a species of legless lizard. The slow worm has one of the longest lifespans among lizards and can live up to 30 years in its natural habitat.
The European hedgehog is Britain’s only spiky mammal. Throughout its entire range, it is listed as a species of least concern in terms of conservation. Its existence in Great Britain, however, is highly threatened as the total number there is falling rapidly.
Most of the UK’s little owl population can be found in certain regions of England and Wales in lowland farmland, parkland and orchards. It is not uncommon to see this small bird perched on top of telegraph poles, or on rocks and tree branches.
Daddy long legs is the name that is given to a diverse family of spiders which have thin, long legs in contrast to their relatively tiny bodies. While they are plentiful in Europe, they can actually be found living in every continent (except Antarctica).
The great crested newt is a species of amphibian that can be found throughout Europe and the western reaches of Asia. It is sometimes referred to as the warty newt or the northern crested newt.
More specifically known as the European pine marten, this small mammal can be found throughout Europe and parts of Western Asia. They are omnivorous; feeding on fruits in addition to birds, insects and smaller mammals.
The red deer’s range runs throughout most of Europe, as well as also parts of Asia and the Caucasus Mountains. They are culturally significant in Europe, being featured in European cave art and highly sought after in medieval hunting.
The Orkney vole is named for its home on the Orkney Islands, off the coast of Scotland. It is a type of common vole but it is found only on the Orkney Islands and has developed some unique characteristics. These include having shorter, paler fur and a larger size than the common vole populations found elsewhere.
The water rail is somewhat similar to the moorhen but with a smaller, slimmer build. Its largest populations are in eastern England, but the water rail may be difficult to spot as it is shy bird which prefers thick vegetation to open areas.
The sand lizard is mostly active during the daytime. It is primarily a meat-eater, preying on spiders, grasshoppers and other insects. The sand lizard uses its burrow as a refuge from its main predators: cats, birds, dogs and foxes.
This species of amphibian is also known simply as the “toad” in certain parts of Europe, as well as the “European toad” in other parts of the world. They are widespread throughout Europe but also have notable populations existing in Asia and Northwest Africa.
The Skomer vole is native to the island of Skomer off the coast of Wales, where its population is around 30,000. It has developed in relative isolation from other bank moles and is, on average, larger than they are. The Skomer vole is prey to a variety of birds, especially the short-eared owl.
Schelly is the name that is given to a species of freshwater fish considered to be a part of the salmon family. They are currently endangered and are primarily found in England, although minor populations are thought to exist elsewhere.
The grey seal is a semi aquatic carnivore that can be found on shores that are washed by the North Atlantic (Canada, the UK and Nordic Europe). They are notable for being popular circus animals throughout history, performing balancing acts and water-based feats.
The giant house spider is a massive species of spider that can be found throughout most of Europe. While they may look fearsome, it has been proven that their bite does not pose any lasting harm to humans or common household pets.
Also known as the common newt, this species of amphibian is one of the most commonly seen newts in Europe. It has also managed to spread to Australia and is considered to be an invasive species there.
The UK’s population of tawny owls inhabits mainly woodland areas in England, Wales and Scotland. The tawny owl tends to mate for life and pairs are known to remain in their established territories. Around 50, 000 pairs of tawny owl are thought to be in the UK.
There are only 4 species of snake in Britain and of these, the European adder is the only venomous one. They are typically brown (females) and gray (males) but there are some European adders which are melanistic or black.
The hazel dormouse has the distinction of being the British Isles’ only native dormouse. It has existed in there for over 10 000 years, but has recently seen a decline in its numbers due, in part, to loss of habitat.
The red squirrel is a common sight throughout most of Europe, but its range stretches to the northern reaches of Asia (Siberia, etc.). As a reference to this, it is oftentimes called the Eurasian red squirrel.
Brightly colored webbed feet and bill help the Atlantic puffin to stand out against the landscape. The species, which is listed as vulnerable and at risk of becoming endangered, can be found at a few sites in the UK.
The wood mouse (or long-tailed field mouse) is the most common mouse throughout the British countryside. It eats seeds, nuts, insects and larvae but has to be on the lookout for its own predators, which include foxes, weasels, cats and owls.
There are only two species of frog which are native to Britain: the pool frog and the common frog. The pool frog was once thought to be extinct and is now fully protected by laws in the UK. It is, therefore, illegal to harm or kill them at any stage of their life cycle, or to damage their habitat.
The Eurasian oystercatcher is a large wading bird. In the UK, it breeds mainly along the coast where it feeds on cockles and mussels, using its broad orange-red bill to get inside the shells.
This spider gets its fitting name from is distinct coloration which resembles the stripes of the zebra. They also don’t build webs (a behavior that is shared with other jumping spiders) instead opting to stalk their prey and attack it.
When the human population left St. Kilda on Aug. 29, 1930, it was the perfect opportunity for the island’s field mouse population to thrive. The St. Kilda field mouse is now regarded as a distinct subspecies of field mice and endemic to the island. St. Kilda is also home to a large colony of Atlantic puffins, as well as a unique subspecies of wren.
The fin whale is a massive marine mammal. It is generally found in oceans throughout the world with a notable population frequenting European waters. Fin whales have historically been the target of whalers, a factor that has now contributed to their current vulnerable conservation status.
The common shelduck belongs to the same family of waterfowl as the duck, goose and swan. In terms of size, it is smaller than a goose but bigger than a duck. The common shelduck is easily recognized by its color pattern of feathers which include dark green on both the head and neck.
The smooth snake feeds primarily on lizards but will also eat other small vertebrates and insects. It is nonvenomous and one of only four snakes which are native to Britain.
The European polecat is a nocturnal meat-eater from the same family as ferrets, badgers, minks and otters. Its name, “polecat,” is thought to come from the French words for “chicken cat” and to refer to the fact that the Eurasian polecat’s diet includes a large variety of birds, including chickens.
The roe deer is notable for being one of the most common species of deer making its home in Europe. The famous fictional deer Bambi was actually originally a roe deer. When the story was revised for the silver screen, however, he was changed to a mule deer.
The serotine bat is also referred to as the big brown bat, evening bat and silky bat. It is a relatively large bat which hunts aerial prey, catching them in midair. It is one of the types of bats which make use of echolocation.