Posts Tagged ‘badgers’

Did you guess what Mammal species this morning’s picture was of? It’s a…. Long Eared Bat Pup!

Brown long-eared bats, as their name suggests, have strikingly large ears. These large appendages are three quarters the length of the bat’s head and body. When resting, the bats fold their ears and hold them backwards. They have a slow and fluttering flight, often close to the ground, which makes them vulnerable to predation from domestic cats. In the summer, they roost in tree holes, bat and bird boxes and attics. In the winter, they hibernate in cellars, tunnels and caves, usually alone.

Click here for some great BBC videos & information on Long-eared Bats.

Long-eared Bat Pup


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Dr Nancy Harrison, a Principal Lecturer at Anglia Ruskin University, tells us about the many fascinating snapshots into the secret lives of the mammal kingdom they’ve caught on a hidden camera they’ve set up in their gardens.

“Most of my cameras are set up so I can watch nest boxes that are part of a long term study on problems faced by garden birds breeding in urban habitat. (You can find out more about Nancy’s studies into garden birds on the Cambridge University Botanic Garden web site.)

I am interested in predation on my study birds – and the cameras have alerted me to the danger from jays which sit on top of a box, and nab begging chicks when they put their head out of the hole.   But when I downloaded the first camera traps I used,  I was surprised to see a muntjac with fawns, and badgers walking around.  The footage was based on a series of nights I set the trap on a tree near the badger sett, to see if it was occupied!  I have never used bait, but the sett is clearly a good active site.  I have put cameras out in other locations where I have only seen evidence of the odd wood pigeon.  I think the discovery of the badger family at the CUBG sett is the best thing I’ve ever found using camera traps.  The worst was when I used one if my back garden and discovered a very large rat!

We are using camera traps of various designs on our course – using them to study the behaviour of animals.  We now run an MSc programme , including a module on how to use camera traps for scientific investigation.

For more information, please visit MSc;



I am glad more folk will be able to see some of the great wildlife stalking the garden at night.  There’s one clip of a fox cub.  Just a fleeting appearance, but interesting to see how many creatures come in to see what is happening at the sett.”

With great thanks to  Dr Nancy Harrison, the Anglia Ruskin University & Cambridge University Botanic Gardens for their kind contributions.

And here are Nancy’s wildlife clips;

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Our cities and countryside are leading a double life, as the sun goes down and you draw the curtains, different species are emerging, there are different predators and different prey, with different shapes dominating the skies.  Being glimpsed dimly at dusk makes it all too easy for this nocturnal wildlife to be overlooked or even misunderstood and feared.  And arguably bats are the most mysterious and misunderstood mammals of all. But for the curious it is this mystery that attracts you, in the bat world discoveries are still to be made and adventures are on your doorstep.

As recently as 2010 a new species, Alcathoe bat, was found to be living here in the UK, doubtlessly it had been here unnoticed for years, having been mistaken for its similar looking cousin.  It seems bats keep a lot of secrets. In the Bat Conservation Trust’s mission to secure fragile bat populations, volunteers and staff set out to discover more about bats and how use the landscape.  Each summer thousands of people go out at night to experience this nocturnal world first hand and count bats for the National Bat Monitoring Programme.  Some volunteers will use a bat detector to pick-up and listen to the different echolocation calls bats make to find their way and catch their insect prey,  the different frequencies and sounds can help identify the 18 different UK bat species.   As well as taking action to conserve bat populations and landscapes we also work to inspire people about bats and their environment.   I often find that once people are out face to face with the nature of the night it soon dispels myths and misunderstanding without losing any of the magic and mystery.

Bat flying at night in Baildon UK by sgwarnog2010 Flicr

That bats have remained mysterious (even to those that study them) is unusual given that bats have adapted to live right alongside us in rural and urban areas.  Some species share our homes and buildings, and there aren’t many rare and endangered mammals that will grace your home with their presence (a panda in the porch anyone?) but bats will.  In this and in so many ways bats are unique, the only true flying mammal, masters of the dark skies, how could you resist a visit to their night-time world? And just imagine the mysteries and secrets that are waiting to be revealed when you get there.  To share bat sightings, find local bat hotspots and events visit at www.bigbatmap.org

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For each of our 12 themed finale days, we are setting you a challenge to work out what species our photograph is of. In the morning, we’ll be posting a close up photograph of part of the species. You’ll have all day to try and work out what it is before we post the whole picture later that afternoon. Good luck!

Tweet us your answer @MeettheSpecies, leave a comment below or facebook us (links on the right!)

So here’s your challenge for the day, and don’t forget that this species can only be a MAMMAL species….

(Unfortunately we are unable to award Richard Comont with any points/ kudos for guessing the species correctly as he is far too good at this game!)

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Hugh Warwick



I have been studying our only prickly mammal over the last 25 years. Initially I was working as an ecologist, looking at how they behaved, but the more time I spent with them in their nocturnal world, the more I realised that these charismatic beasts were actually rather special.

I helped stop the cull of hedgehogs up in the Outer Hebrides (they were accused of eating eggs of ground-nesting birds) – proving that they could moved to the mainland without the sorts of problems that the authorities imagined. And through this I began to work more closely with the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (http://www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk) and the People’s Trust for Endangered Species (http://www.ptes.org)

Hugh meets a hedgehog pal

We were all getting worried about hedgehogs. The population seemed to be in decline from all the surveys we had run, so we handed all the data we had over to the statisticians at the British Trust for Ornithology and they gave us a dramatic answer. Conservatively the number of hedgehogs in Britain has fallen 25% in the last 10 years alone. And the fall before that is likely to have been as dramatic, but we did not have the data.

One of the main problems is habitat fragmentation – the splitting up of good hedgehog habitat into smaller pieces with roads, industrial farming, housing and even changes in gardens. With this in mind we launched Hedgehog Street (http://www.hedgehogstreet.org) and have already recruited nearly 23,000 households to the cause. You can see it on Countryfile this Sunday (BBC 1, 1930) – and learn how to make your garden more hedgehog friendly, and, most importantly realise that however hedgehog friendly it is, it is useless unless hedgehogs can get in! So, get talking to your neighbours about making holes in the fence!

Why should we care so much? Well, as I mentioned at the beginning, they are a very important species. We could just look at their diet of macro-invertebrates – things like slugs and snails – to see how great they are to have in the garden. We could also consider that they are yet another piece of the great web of life. Imagine your favourite jumper – it can cope with a few moth holes, but there comes a time when a hole appears in just the wrong place and everything begins to unravel; well, that is like the ecosystem. And we can never know which is the crucial piece of the puzzle.

But that is not why I think they are so important. Hedgehogs give us a chance to see a really wild animal at close quarters. There are very few other beasts out there with which we can get so close – I have been nose-to-nose with a hedgehog, looking into its beady, bright eyes. I first did it with a hedgehog called Nigel. As it happened it dawned on me that the large conservation and wildlife charities have got it wrong. We are not going to be seduced into loving the natural world through the charismatic mega fauna, the lions and whales. That is like assuming we will form meaningful relationships with the people pictured in Heat or Hello magazines.

The Big Issue- Hugh talks hedgehogs

We are going to fall in love with the girl or the boy next door – not an A-List member of the charismatic mega-fauna of celebrity. And the hedgehog is the animal equivalent. We actually have a chance to get close to and understand a little about the hedgehog. So, if you meet one, get down on your tummy, get nose-to-nose and look for the glint of wild in its eyes. And then, just possibly, you will be seduced into really falling in love with the world around you.

Hugh Warwick is the author of A Prickly Affair and, most recently, The Beauty in the Beast. He also maintains an active and eccentric blog: http://www.urchin.info

Thank you Hugh Warwick for all of your great contributions and continued support! You can follow Hugh on twitter @hedgehoghugh

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