4 Endangered Species Found in the UK and Why They’re Protected

The UK is known for its stunning, varied landscapes and natural beauty, and it’s a big part of why so many international tourists visit each year. But besides its natural beauty, it’s also home to a large array of wildlife. While many species are abundant in nature and easy to spot, there are also endangered species. Let’s take a look at four endangered species you can find in the UK and examine why they’re protected.

Dormouse

Dormice, also called hazel dormice, are a protected species here in the UK thanks to their extremely low population levels. Dormice are so rare that they are at risk of extinction. It is illegal to destroy or even damage a resting or breeding place in hopes the dormice population can slowly come back.

The dormouse is a very small mammal, and they are part of the Muscardinus avellanarius species. A dormouse is a rodent that features long whiskers, and black eyes and they have a golden-brown colour to their fur. Their tail is also furry which makes them more distinguishable.

They typically stick to hedgerows and woodlands, but the decline in hedgerows has severely impacted their habitat options. They used to be found throughout Britain but as the numbers declined, so did their range. Now they tend to stick to the areas of Wales and southern England. 

Unfortunately, many people view them as pests since they can cause damage to trees and even live in houses. However, they are actually recognised as flagship species, meaning that the presence of dormice can also indicate the presence of other species and habitats.

Bats

Bats are a species that often get a bad reputation for unfair reasons. There are many misconceptions and myths tied to bats, but in reality, they are extremely helpful to the environment and the ecosystem. Did you know that a pipistrelle bat can devour up to 3,000 insects in one night? Think how helpful that is for the environment. Unfortunately, many of the species are showing severe population declines, and the mouse-eared bat is almost extinct. 

This is why the UK has decided to take action and move to protect all species of bats. It is now illegal to harm or move the animal and/or their roost. Because the protection laws are so strict and the penalties are very severe, there are already signs of the bat population numbers increasing.

If homeowners wish to make changes to their buildings or trees on their property they have to ensure no bats are harmed or disturbed. The best course of action is to have a professional bat survey done by a trained bat surveyor. 

A bat survey by Arbtech can take one of two forms – either a phase 1 or phase 2 survey. The phase 1 survey is called a preliminary roost assessment or a scoping bat survey is a walkover survey. The phase 2 option is called a bat emergency survey which is done when there is evidence of a bat roost/habitat or bat activity on or around the property.

Badgers

There are lots of interesting facts and statistics about badgers but one that many are surprised to read about is that it is the largest land predator in the UK. These mammals are easy to spot and are known for their black and white striped colour. Their average lifespan is 5-8 years with cubs born in January or February. Badgers use their front paws to dig the burrows that they live in and also dig for food. They eat plants, fruit, small mammals, worms and birds’ eggs. They can be found in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England. 

If you wish to see them in your garden, you can leave unsalted peanuts out for them. Putting out food for them can help them get through periods of colder temperatures where it’s hard to find food. It’s common to see them foraging for food during the daytime hours, not just at night. Generally speaking, they prefer to live in open country and woodland areas.

Otters

This protected species are ultra-cute, and the numbers suggest they are starting to come back. Otters are semi-aquatic mammals that are carnivorous and tend to be found in otter conservation areas. Their sweet and gentle faces combined with their playful nature make this mammal a joy to watch. 

It wasn’t that long ago that the species was at risk of extinction in Britain. In the 1950s the numbers were so low that many felt they wouldn’t be able to bounce back. The good news is that their population has started to recover and while they are still rare, they aren’t on the brink of extinction anymore.

So, what do these cute mammals like to eat? They love to fish and spend a lot of time in the water looking for food. Besides fish, otters also eat crustaceans, amphibians and waterbirds. They can be found on new banks with overgrown foliage and prefer clean rivers that have an abundance of food. As for the best time of year to spot otters, the answer is all year-round. If you want to try your luck at spotting an otter, these are some of the best places to do so:

  • Ranworth Broad, Norfolk Wildlife Trust, England
  • Wolseley Centre, Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, England
  • Cricklepit Mill, Devon Wildlife Trust, England
  • Bosherston and Stackpole, Pembrokeshire, Wales
  • Shetland, Scotland
  • Aughton Woods, Lancashire, England

Other Protected Species

The list doesn’t end there, as there are other protected species in the UK. Others include such animals as water voles, reptiles, Natterjack toads, white-clawed crayfish, invertebrates and wild birds. You can learn more about the standing advice for the various protected species from Natural England or the Environment Agency.

Learning about the environment and the endangered species in the UK is an excellent way to better connect with nature. It can also be very eye-opening, teaching you about the importance of each of these creatures and what you can do to help their populations recover. 


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