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England is fortunate to have diverse animal species. On top of the thousands of invertebrates found here, there are also numerous vertebrates inhabiting the country. In fact, all five vertebrate groups are well-represented in England. Listed below are some of the animals that you can find in England:
The largest land mammal in England is the red deer. It is one of the few big mammals found here. While these charming creatures are more populous in neighbouring Scotland, they can also be found in Southwest England. Historically, most red deer lived in woodlands. However, due to the diminishing tree cover, they were forced to adjust to life in the open hills as well.
In England, there are several parks where red deer freely roam. Richmond Park, a deer park established in the 17th century, is home to both the red deer and the fallow deer. Currently, the park’s deer population is at 630. The other places where red deer can be spotted are Bradgate Park, Chatsworth Park, Lyme Park, and Tatton Park to name a few.
While they are known for their red fur, they only don red coats during summer. In winter, their fur becomes greyish brown. The stags, or male deer, are easily identifiable due to their majestic antlers that grow up to a meter long.
One of the marine mammals found in England is the grey seal. Compared to their cousins, the harbour seal, they are usually larger and heavier. One of the features which distinguishes grey seals from common seals is their nose which has a prominent bridge, also called “Roman” or aquiline nose. Moreover, their nostrils appear as parallel slits while those of the common seals form a V shape. Their bodies are coloured grey with prominent dark spots.
It is easier to spot these blubbery creatures during the pupping season in Autumn. During this time, seals haul out to give birth and bask on sandy or rocky beaches with their pups. This usually runs from September to January.
Where can you see grey seals in England? They are actually found all over the English coast. Donna Nook in Lincolnshire provides excellent viewing points for watching grey seals. Over 3,000 of them are living in this area. Meanwhile, the Farne Islands in Northumberland is the home of the biggest colony of greys in the east coast. Visitors are often treated to sights of seals swimming alongside their boats.
Hedgehogs are well-loved in England. A testament to this is that it topped a 2013 UK poll on “Britain’s National Species” organised by BBC Wildlife Magazine.
Famous for their spines, hedgehogs can roll into a ball, as big as a softball, when threatened by predators. They mainly feed mainly on insects but may occasionally eat mice, worms, fruits and small snakes.
Hedgehogs used to very common in England. From a population of 30 million in the 50s, their numbers are currently now just below a million. Experts reported that their population decreased by as much as 30% in the past decade. The biggest reason for this decline is habitat loss caused by development and changes in agricultural approaches. The natural hedgehog habitats that have been affected are hedgerows, woodlands, gardens, grasslands and parklands.
Many are wondering if reptiles are found in England. Yes, there are reptilian animals here, including snakes. The adder, the only venomous native snake in the UK, is found on English soil.
Sometimes called vipers, European adders have backs which bear a unique diamond-shaped zigzag pattern. Their colour varies – females are reddish brown while males have a greyish body. These snakes are known for their highly-advanced method of injecting venom into their prey. Do not fear these small and stocky creatures, though. They may have venom, but they are not aggressive vipers. In fact, they are commonly described as shy creatures.
These reptiles inhabit woodland edges and open countryside. Adders are more common in the south than in the north. The best time to see them is after their hibernation period, which is in spring.
Did you know that in the 1950s to the 1970s otters almost vanished from England? The culprits for this were habitat destruction and the pollution of waterways due to pesticides. But because of the ban on organochlorine chemicals and several conservation efforts for the past 25 years, their numbers improved. A report in 2011 indicated that otters are back in every county in England and in key places like Portrack Marsh and Winnall Moors
These brown-coloured semi-aquatic mammals live in freshwater habitats. Male otters are called dogs and females are referred to as bitches. They communicate with each other using high pitched sounds. Moreover, they make a loud, angry chatter when they feel threatened.
Red squirrels are native to Britain. However, they have been significantly affected by the introduction of grey squirrels in the UK decades ago. There are currently around 140,000 red squirrels and 2.5 million grey squirrels in Britain.
Most red squirrels have rusty red fur. However, some grey squirrels also have red fur. Furthermore, certain red squirrels sport coats ranging from grey to black. This is why these two squirrel species are often misidentified. So, instead of relying on the fur colour to identify reds, focus on the size. Red squirrels are smaller than their non-native cousins. Furthermore, they have very prominent ear tufts during winter.
As compared to Scotland, England has fewer red squirrels. Hence, spotting these animals here is not as easy as seeing herds of deer. Some of the known places in England where these native squirrels are present are Poole Harbour Islands, Cumbria and Northumberland. Some indicators of squirrel presence in an area are scratched marks on barks of tree and chewed pine cones on the ground.
Red deer stags photo by Nick Goodrum Photography
Grey seal photo by tpholland
Hedgehog photo by Peter O’Connor aka anemoneprojectors
Adder photo by Pasha Kirillov
Otter photo by ahisgett
Red squirrel photo by Mrs Airwolfhound