When people think of Britain often the first things that come to mind are its tea drinking culture, great buildings and long history, but something too often overlooked is the wonderful wildlife our country naturally has. The temperate deciduous forest that naturally sprawls across our countryside is home to some of the most unique and amazing animals in the world. In this article we will take a brief look at some of the most iconic and astounding creatures our nations have to offer.
5: Red Squirrel
This furry little tree dweller has become much more of a rare sight in recent years, largely due to the invasion of the now far more common grey squirrel in our woodlands. The Red Squirrel is only around 20cm in height when fully grown, yet is still almost unmissable due to its iconic coat of red fur, which is particularly vivid in the summer months of the year. The species only has 4 fingers and 5 toes and is also naturally ambidextrous, these inimitable features secure the 5th position for the Red Squirrel.
The animal characterised by its back covered in spines and its unnaturally small eyes was absolutely unmissable from this list. A common sight in gardens and woodland areas across the country, it is undoubtedly one of the most famous animals on the list. It gets its name from its peculiar foraging technique, hedgehogs root through hedges and other undergrowth in an attempt to find their meals. Their favourite foods include worms, centipedes, snails, mice and even snakes. Being a nocturnal animal, it is rarely seen in daytime, and is most commonly spotted in the late evening. The hedgehog is known to have hundreds of spines, but few would guess that the total number is normally around 5000 per fully grown hedgehog.
3: Red Fox
This sly species is highly intelligent and sneaky, unlike many other animals, it is very much at large in cities and towns. The Red Fox of Britain has realised that instead of having to chase and hunt down it’s meals, it is far easier to just steal them from bins. The eyes of the fox have adapted to work extremely well at night, allowing it to trace movements around streets easily and chose it’s time to steal effectively. Whilst seeing one prowling around the streets late at night is often quite scary, it must be appreciated that they are one of the most beautiful animals to inhabit our island. The uncommon hunting techniques and crafty nature ensure that the Red Fox takes 3rd place.
2: Red Deer
The most common of British Deer species, this formidable animal is not only the biggest on the list but also the strongest. The Deer family is the only group of animals in the world to grow antlers, these are also the fastest growing tissues in existence. Every year the Red Deer’s antlers fall off at around 30 inches in size. The secret to this rapid growth is a soft tissue called ‘velvet’, it is very rich in nerves and blood vessels, yet again this is a unique characteristic that only the deer family has. The magnificent Red Deer is more than deserving of a place on this list, for its large amount of exclusive qualities and sheer majestic nature.
1: Mute Swan
Taking the number one spot is of course the Mute Swan, an animal that, to many, radiates Britishness from the second it is seen. The only bird on our list, the swan spends the majority of its time on the water. However, with an impressive wingspan of up to 2.4m it can reach speeds of 60 miles per hour with no trouble. The animal is also one of the few under the queen’s protection. Meaning that if anyone seeks to intentionally harm or kill the Mute Swan, they can face major punishments. The species gets its name from the fact they are less vocal than other swan species, contrary to the popular belief that they are in fact ‘mute’, they can make noises.
To only be able to choose five species was almost impossible, but I hope that it has given you a glimpse into our country’s wonderful array of fauna and that next time you see one of these animals, take time to appreciate how amazing it really is.
Furthermore, please feel free to comment down below your top 5 native animals and I will be sure to take a look!