My theme this week is WILD MAMMALS OF THE UK.
It might seem obvious, but I have realised not everyone knows what mammals, as a group of animals, are. They feed their young with milk produced by mammary glands (hence their name) as well as various other features such as being warm-blooded, vertebrates (with a spine and skeleton) and some other differences in their anatomy and physiology. Many don’t realise that cetaceans (whales and dolphins) are actually mammals and not some kind of fish (whereas sharks are fish). Cetaceans feed their young with milk whilst swimming in water, unlike other sea mammals which usually feed their young on land.
I will start off with mammals we’ve seen in our garden in Loughborough during the 20 years we have lived here. We live on a suburban housing estate with an average garden about the size of one and half tennis courts and surrounded by other houses and gardens. It is about 40 years old, so the garden is reasonably mature.
The first mammal we saw in the garden was a HEDGEHOG one morning. We didn’t see any more hedgehogs until we started using a wildlife camera at night about ten years later. The quality of the photos is therefore not very good.
Just a month ago, the British hedgehog was classified as “vulnerable to extinction”
on the international IUCN list – their numbers have declined drastically.
In 2011, we realised a larger animal was coming into the garden at night and were amazed and thrilled when we realised it was a BADGER which we had never before seen, not even in the countryside, as they are such shy animals only only emerging from their setts at dusk. They are nocturnal, but our first badger started coming before dark and allowed me to sit at the open patio door and photograph it with flash just one metre away while it dug up the peanuts I had buried for it! I was spellbound. I felt it was almsot eating out of my hand. Since then, badgers have become more common in urban settings.
What a beautiful animal!
I will continue the saga of hedgehogs and badgers in our garden tomorrow.