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Published on : 21st March 2018

What Are the Most Common Animals in the UK?

Herd of red deer

The United Kingdom is known for its diverse wildlife. It is home to countless terrestrial, aerial and marine animals. But what are the most common animals in the UK? Read on to know the answers.

Deer

There are around 1.5 million deer in the UK. The different types of deer are red and roe deer, which are both native to the UK, the fallow, muntjac, sika and the Chinese water deer.

Among the different types of deer, the red deer is the most popular as they are the most common deer in the UK. Moreover, these deer are the largest native mammals in the country. The male red deer, or stags, can grow up to a height of 135 centimetres at the shoulder. They have huge antlers, which they use to get the attention of the female deer. The population of the red deer is around 500,000 all over the UK and their average lifespan is around 18 years.

In terms of their diet, red deer are herbivores, feeding on grasses, shrubs and trees. The natural predators of deer are lynx, wolves and bears. However, these deer predators are already extinct in the UK which is one of the reasons why deer population in the UK is booming. Also contributing to the deer population explosion is their protected status.

Puffins

Puffins

The puffin is one of the most popular birds in the UK. In fact, several puffin colonies like the one in South Stack Cliffs draw countless visitors each year. Because of their appearance and colour, they are sometimes referred to as the “clowns of the sea”. Puffins have black and white feathers and a parrot-like beak which is grey in the winter and transforms to bright orange in the spring.

The population of puffins in the UK is over 1 million. They are carnivores and they normally eat herring, sandeels and hake. They are both great flyers and swimmers. They can reach up to 90 kilometres an hour when flying and they can dive underwater up to 60 metres deep. Their average life span is around 20 years. The main threat to puffins is overfishing as this directly affects their food supply.

Grey seal

Grey Seals

There are an estimated 200,000 grey seals in the UK, which is half of the animal’s global population. They are also more common than the harbour seal. Grey seals are abundant in places like Orkney Islands and have a small population in Shetland Islands and Isle of May.

The male grey seals live up to around 20 years and the females reach up to around 35 years. Their average length is between 1.8 to 2.1 metres and weigh around 130 to 440 kilograms. Similar to puffins, grey seals are also carnivores and they usually eat anchovies, sea bass, herring cod and flatfish.

What sets them apart from harbour seals is their horse-like face which features long whiskers, big eyes and long muzzle. Mature grey seals have furs which range from black to spotted grey. However, grey seal pups are usually born with a white fur.

Grey seals have a protected status. While their population is stable, they are still facing various threats such as pollution and entanglement.

Brown Rats

The brown rat is believed to have originated from Asia. It spread all over Europe in the 18th century and is now the most common animal in the UK. In terms of population, experts estimate it to be almost 10 million. The brown rat is considered a pest as it normally feasts on stored food. They also prey on animal eggs and chicks. Aside from that, they are also believed to be one of the main causes of the spread of several diseases.

In terms of appearance, the brown rat has brown fur, with pointed ears and a long tail. It reaches around 300 millimetres in length and up to 600 grams in weight. Brown rats are usually found in places where there are humans like farms and industrial sites. Others may also be found in places where garbage from humans is found like the sewers. Brown rats prefer locations which have a ready supply of food.

Grey squirrels

Grey Squirrels

The grey squirrel is not native to the UK, unlike the red squirrel. The greys were brought to the UK from North America in the 19th century. Its population is believed to be around 3 million in the UK, whereas the reds only number over 100, 000.

Grey squirrels are outcompeting the native red squirrels because a full grown grey squirrel is much bigger as compared to an adult red. They can grow to about 50 centimetres in length, while the red ones are just usually 40 centimetres long from head to tail. Furthermore, greys are usually twice as heavy as the red squirrels. Greys squirrels weigh an average of 600 grams, while the reds are just around 280 grams. Most importantly, grey squirrels are carriers of a disease, squirrel pox, which is fatal to red squirrels. Surprisingly, this virus does not affect the greys at all! Because of the squirrel pox, the population of red squirrels decreases about 25x faster.

Red deer photo by Peter G Trimming

Puffins hoto by Bobfantastic

Grey Seal photo by Andrew Stawarz

Grey Squirrel photo by Bobolink

 

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