- 29 November 2016
The hedgehog has been voted the Favourite UK Mammal with a huge majority in the Royal Society of Biology’s public vote.
The UK’s only spiny mammal won with 35.9% of the 5,000 votes, more than double that of the Red Fox, who came in second place with 15.4%. The Red Squirrel came third with 11.4%, out of a shortlist of 10 charismatic UK mammals (full list below).
Henry Johnson, hedgehog officer, People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) said:
“We Brits seem to love hedgehogs for a whole range of reasons, including their cute appearance, their role as slug controllers and the way they have colonised our gardens with such aplomb. This is why it is so sad to see them decline, with one in three lost since the millennium.”
Threats to hedgehogs come mostly from us. In rural areas, our farmland increasingly lacks the diversity of habitats hedgehogs need and the invertebrates they feed on. In towns and cities green spaces are lost to development, paved over or increasingly fragmented. Hedgehogs are also very prone to road traffic accidents.
Henry Johnson said:
“The first step is ensuring hedgehogs can access our gardens – this means ‘hedgehog highways’ at the base of fences and walls. Then the gardens themselves can be enhanced through log piles, compost heaps, ponds and nectar-rich plants."
Hedgehog Street, a joint project from PTES and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, will be making 'Build a Hedgehog House’ resources publicly available to encourage all those who voted for the hedgehog, to help them survive hibernation.
Fiona Mathews, Chair of The Mammal Society said:
“We are currently reviewing the conservation status of all British Mammals, including hedgehogs. Many people will find it surprising that we have very little information on where species as charismatic as hedgehogs are found. We suspect that they are now doing better in suburban areas than they are in farmland, but we really need more information. The public can help by submitting their records via our free Mammal Tracker App."
A total of 101 mammal species can be found in and around the UK. Some of these species have suffered serious declines. The poll was opened during Biology Week 2016 to raise awareness of UK mammals and the need for an increased conservation effort.
With the help of experts from PTES and The Mammal Society, the RSB developed a shortlist of 10 of the UK’s favourite wild mammal species (listed below). There are lots of other mammals we would have liked to include in our poll and all species are important. People can find out more about UK mammals and conservation projects on our website and blog.
Mammals deliver a variety of benefits to our environment. For instance, many small mammals are ecologically important because they act as prey for bird species and mammalian carnivores. Conversely large mammals may be important in the maintenance of high biodiversity habitats through the impacts of grazing.
Professor David Macdonald CBE CBiol FRSB, director of the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit at The University of Oxford said:
“Each species, large or small, is a cog in nature’s system. But whether seemingly useful to people or not, each can be treasured because it is beautiful and interesting.
“All UK mammals will be bumping up against some inconvenient aspect of the 21st century, and will need society’s support to prosper. For a nation that widely encourages others to protect wildlife in their communities, let us practise what we preach by nurturing the wildlife in our own backyards.”
Full Results: What is the Favourite UK Mammal?
Red Fox (15.4%)
Red Squirrel (11.4%)
Scottish Wildcat (11.3%)
Pine Marten (3.8%)
Soprano Pipistrelle (3.6%)
Water Vole (3.6%)
Bottlenose Dolphin (2.9%)