List of mammals of Great Britain

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This is a list of mammals of Great Britain.

The Great Britain mammal fauna is impoverished compared with that of continental Europe. This is because there was only a short time between the last ice age and the flooding of the land bridge between Britain and the rest of Europe. The list only has land species which crossed before the creation of the English Channel, and those later brought in by humans.

Mountain hare in Scotland

Native (indigenous) species have three possible definitions:

  • a species which colonised the islands during the glacial retreat at the end of the last ice age (c.9500 years ago);
  • a species that was present when the English Channel was created (c.8000 years ago);
  • or, a species that was present in prehistory.

This list includes mammals from the small islands around Great Britain and the Channel Islands. There are no endemic mammal species in Great Britain, although four distinct subspecies of rodents have arisen on small islands.

Rodentia[change | change source]

Rodents make up the largest order of mammals, with over 40 percent of mammalian species. They have two incisors in the upper and lower jaw which grow continuously and must be kept short by gnawing. Most rodents are small though the coypu (once introduced to Great Britain, but subsequently eradicated) can weigh up to 9 kg (15.5 lb).

Red squirrel

Family: Castoridae (beavers)

Family: Cricetidae (voles)

Family: Muridae (rats, mice and relatives)

Family: Gliridae (dormice)

Family: Sciuridae (squirrels)

Lagomorpha[change | change source]

The lagomorphs comprise two families, Leporidae (hares and rabbits), and Ochotonidae (pikas). Though they can resemble rodents, and were classified as a superfamily in that order until the early 20th century, they have since been considered a separate order. They differ from rodents in a number of physical characteristics, such as having four incisors in the upper jaw rather than two.

Family: Leporidae (hares and rabbits)

  • Scottish mountain hare L. t. scoticus

Hedgehogs[change | change source]

European hedgehog

Superorder: Laurasiatheria Order: Erinaceomorpha

The order Erinaceomorpha contains a single family, Erinaceidae, which comprise the hedgehogs and gymnures. The hedgehogs are easily recognised by their spines while gymnures look more like large rats.

Shrews and moles[change | change source]

Superorder: Laurasiatheria Order: Soricomorpha

The "shrew-forms" are insectivorous mammals. The shrews and soledons closely resemble mice while the moles are stout-bodied burrowers.

Bats[change | change source]

Superorder: Laurasiatheria Order: Chiroptera

The bats' most distinguishing feature is that their forelimbs are developed as wings, making them the only mammals in the world naturally capable of flight. Bat species account for about 20% of all mammals.

Common pipistrelle bat, Britain's most common species

Even-toed ungulates[change | change source]

Superorder: Laurasiatheria Order: Artiodactyla

The even-toed ungulates are ungulates whose weight is borne about equally by the third and fourth toes, rather than mostly or entirely by the third as in perissodactyls. There are about 220 artiodactyl species, including many that are of great economic importance to humans.

Red deer stag and hinds

Odd-toed ungulates[change | change source]

Superorder: Laurasiatheria Order: Perissodactyla

The odd-toed ungulates are browsing and grazing mammals. They are usually large to very large, and have relatively simple stomachs and a large middle toe.

Carnivora[change | change source]

Superorder: Laurasiatheria Order: Carnivora

There are over 260 species of carnivorans, the majority of which feed primarily on meat. They have a characteristic skull shape and dentition.

European polecat

Order: Cetacea[change | change source]

Whales[change | change source]

The order Cetacea includes whales, dolphins and porpoises. They are the mammals most fully adapted to aquatic life with a spindle-shaped nearly hairless body, protected by a thick layer of blubber, and forelimbs and tail modified to provide propulsion underwater.

Dolphins[change | change source]

Introduced animals[change | change source]

Diprotodontia[change | change source]

Though most marsupials make up a great part of the fauna in the Australian region, the red-necked wallaby has been introduced and a feral population is currently breeding on the island of Inchconnachan, and at Loch Lomond in Argyll and Bute, Scotland. A smaller group is present on the Isle of Man, and the species is locally extinct in the Peak District, in Cumbria, and at Ashdown Forest in East Sussex.

Family: Macropodidae (kangaroos, wallabies, and kin)

Rodentia[change | change source]

Rodents make up the largest order of mammals, with over 40 percent of mammalian species. They have two incisors in the upper and lower jaw which grow continuously and must be kept short by gnawing. Most rodents are small though the coypu (once introduced to Great Britain, but subsequently eradicated) can weigh up to 9 kg (15.5 lb).

Family: Muridae (rats, mice and relatives)

Family: Gliridae (dormice)

Family: Sciuridae (squirrels)

Lagomorpha[change | change source]

The lagomorphs comprise two families, Leporidae (hares and rabbits), and Ochotonidae (pikas). Though they resemble rodents, and were classified as a superfamily in that order until the early 20th century, they have since been put in a separate order. They differ from rodents in a number of physical characteristics, such as having four incisors in the upper jaw rather than two.

Family: Leporidae (hares and rabbits)

Shrews and moles[change | change source]

Superorder: Laurasiatheria Order: Soricomorpha

The "shrew-forms" are insectivorous mammals. The shrews and soledons closely resemble mice while the moles are stout-bodied burrowers.

Even-toed ungulates[change | change source]

Superorder: Laurasiatheria Order: Artiodactyla

The even-toed ungulates are ungulates whose weight is borne about equally by the third and fourth toes, rather than mostly or entirely by the third as in perissodactyls. There are about 220 artiodactyl species, including many that are of great economic importance to humans.

Carnivora[change | change source]

Superorder: Laurasiatheria Order: Carnivora

References[change | change source]

  1. "Geoffroy's bat discovered in UK for first time". BBC News. 14 September 2012. Retrieved 14 October 2012.
  2. "Bat species discovered for the first time in UK". University of Leeds. 20 April 2010. Retrieved 15 October 2012.
  3. "Blue Whale – Balaenoptera musculus". ORCA. Retrieved 14 October 2012.

Other websites[change | change source]