When it comes to wildlife, most of our favourites are mammals – so it’s no accident that the WWF chose that panda – and as for the “ooh” factor, these cute and furry chaps have it in spades!
It’s hardly surprising then, that some of Britain’s most popular wild creatures can be found amongst the 65 or so mammal species that are either considered native to these shores or long-established residents. From bats to badgers and from deer to dormice, whether you like your wildlife big or small, whatever your favourites, there’s bound to be a healthy smattering of mammals in your own personal top ten.
So, are you an expert on British mammals? Try this quick quiz for a bit of fun and find out just how well you know the animals that visit your garden. The answers are at the bottom – so good luck!
1. There are some 1,000 bats species in the world, but how many are found in the UK?
- a) 7
- b) 17
- c) 170
2. Why is colour alone not always the best way to tell red and grey squirrels apart?
- a) In spring, red squirrels turn grey.
- b) Grey squirrels can often have a definite reddish tinge to their fur.
- c) Red squirrels can also often be a grey colour.
3. OK – so how DO you tell them apart?
- a) Reds tend to be smaller, with bushier tails and ear tufts.
- b) Grey squirrels always have black belly fur.
- c) Red squirrels are larger with thinner tails.
4. Rabbits have their burrows, but what about hares?
- a) Hares also make extensive networks of burrows.
- b) They rest in a scrape or a natural dip in the ground, often in long grass.
- c) They build complicated nests out of twigs, usually under hedges.
5. Is it a shrew or a mouse? How do you tell?
- a) Shrews have much longer tails.
- b) Shrews have bigger ears.
- c) Shrews have much pointier muzzles.
6. Now for the bigger mammals – how could you tell a badger’s sett from a fox’s earth?
- a) A sett’s entrance is wider than it is high
- b) Earths have a characteristically pungent smell
- c) Foxes tend to leave food remains outside, badgers leave bedding material.
- d) All of the above
- e) It’s impossible – so none of the above.
7. Staying with badgers – they really love earthworms, but how many can they eat?
- a) 200 a day
- b) 200 a week
- c) 200 a month
8. Which of the following British mammals are rodents?
- a) Field mouse
- b) Rabbit
- c) House mouse
- d) Hare
- e) Grey squirrel
- f) Rat
- g) Hedgehog
9. The saying “as blind as a bat” isn’t actually true – but who does have very poor eyesight?
- a) Mouse
- b) Mole
- c) Deer
10. Which pair represent the largest and smallest of British mammals?
- a) Roe Deer and Pygmy Shrew
- b) Fallow Deer and Pipistrelle Bat
- c) Red Deer and Pygmy Shrew
1. (b). According to the Bat Conservation Trust, 17 species are resident in the UK.
2. (b). Despite the name, grey squirrels can often look red, leading to a bit of confusion!
3. (a). Red squirrels tend to be smaller and more slightly built, with bushier tails than their grey cousins and often with prominent ear tufts.
4. (b). Unlike rabbits, hares rest in a scrape or a natural dip in the ground, typically in longish grass.
5. (c). Shrews have much pointier muzzles than mice, as well as having virtually invisible ears and generally shorter tails.
6. (a), (b) and (c) are all possible ways of telling a sett from an earth, so one point if you answered any of these, but TWO points if you correctly picked (d).
7. (a) – a hungry badger can tuck away 200 earthworms a day. So that explains all those holes on the lawn!
8. (a) Field mouse, (c) house mouse, (e) grey squirrel and (f) rat are all rodents; (b), (d) and (g) are not. Although many people believe that rabbits and hares are rodents, they actually belong to a group called the Lagomorphs and are more closely related to the little-known Pikas found in the mountains of Asia, than rats or mice. Lastly, the hedgehog is one of the Insectivores – along with moles and shrews. One point for each correct answer – and if you got all 7, give yourself a bonus point!
9.(b). With all that burrowing around underground, the mole doesn’t have much use for sight, but while “as blind as a mole” may be biologically accurate, it doesn’t have quite the same ring about it!
10. (c). The red deer is the largest native British mammal and some of them – like the 9ft tall, 300lbs stag spotted on Exmoor in 2009 – get to be very big indeed! Although the pipistrelle is the smallest British bat, the pygmy shrew is the smallest mammal of all.
How Did You Do?
- 18, Wide-eyed and bushy tailed!
- 12 – 17, Scampering along.
- 6 – 11, Scurrying by.
- 0 – 5, Hibernating.