The Mammal Society, together with the Royal Society of Biology and the People’s Trust for Endangered Species, have launched a poll to determine the UK’s favourite mammal.
A total of 101 mammal species can be found in and around the UK. Some of these species have suffered serious declines and require increased conservation effort.
Professor David Macdonald CBE CBiol FRSB, Director of the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit at The University of Oxford said: “Mammals are special! Not only are we one of them, but their appeal and charisma make them powerful ambassadors for nature.”
You can vote now by clicking here and also find out how you can help with conservation efforts. You have until the end of October (the end of National Mammal Week) to cast your vote. Voters are encouraged to share how they selected their favourite with #UKMammalPoll.
Each voter will have the chance to be entered into a draw to win one of five copies of Collins Field Guide to Mammals of Britain and Europe by David Macdonald and Priscilla Barrett.
What is the UK’s Favourite Mammal?
Water voles are the largest UK vole species, and are often confused with brown rats. In fact Ratty (of Wind in the Willows) was actually a water vole! Water voles are one of the UK’s fastest decliningmammals and used to be found in almost every waterway in England, Scotland and Wales. It is thought that they have been lost in up to 90% of these sites. Would Ratty be your favourite?
Beavers became extinct in the UK in the 16th century, largely due to extensive hunting for food, fur and even their scent glands. Beavers are ‘keystone species’ as they have a disproportionately large effect on the rest of the ecosystem. This can create favourable conditions for many other species to live. Small numbers of beavers have been reintroduced to the UK due to the range of benefits they provide to both wildlife and humans.
The pine marten is one of the UK’s rarest carnivores. These cat-sized mammals are very rare and not very well known. There are around 3,500 individuals in Scotland, but there could be fewer than 100 in England and Wales. Pine martens prefer woodland and are talented climbers, spending most of their time in trees. They can even leap up to four metres between branches! Could they be your choice?
Hedgehogs are easily recognised as the only spiny mammals in Britain. They can hibernate between November and March, allowing them to save energy when food is hard to come by. Famously hedgehogs protect themselves from predators by rolling into a ball and erecting their spines. Hedgehog numbers are unfortunately declining across the UK, the greatest threat is habitat loss from agricultural change. Is this prickly mammal your choice?
These much maligned mammals are opportunistic and can make use of a variety of habitats. In the UK for instance, foxes have adapted very well to urban environments. Foxes hunt with keen senses of smell and hearing, and likely use the latter to find earthworms, which can make up a large portion of their diet. Will the fox be your choice?