Almost one in five mammal species in Britain are facing a high risk of extinction, according to research by The Mammal Society.
This new study spells trouble for many of our British garden favourites. Red squirrels were described as “endangered”, hedgehogs are “vulnerable” and rabbits are “near threatened”, as part of the first comprehensive review of these mammals’ populations for more than 20 years – other endangered species include the wildcat, the black rat, the beaver, the water vole and the hazel dormouse.
Climate change is reportedly a contributing factor, as well as our use of pesticides in our gardens. Here are some expert recommendations for helping out these endangered species before it’s too late.
Red squirrels are incredibly rare across the UK, and if you’re lucky enough to have them visit your garden, you must consider a few things before you feed them. Firstly, if grey squirrels also frequent your garden it is best to not encourage red ones, as you increase their danger of catching squirrelpox virus from grey squirrels. Also, be very mindful of encouraging red squirrels into your garden if it’s going to require them crossing a nearby busy road.
You can also get involved with protecting red squirrels – The Wildlife Trusts work hard to improve their habitats and run reintroduction schemes – preparing those born in captivity to enter the wild. Find out how to volunteer here.
The greater mouse-eared bat has been listed as ‘critically endangered’, the highest threat category in the study. Liz Carney, a spokesperson for The Wildlife Trusts, tells HuffPost UK that the best way to help protect endangered bats is to build a bat box to encourage them to roost.
“Bats rely on a good supply of insects, but pesticides and sprays often diminish their food source. Plant a bat bouquet of flowers like honeysuckle, lavender or borage, which will attract insects for the bats to feed on,” she says.
Water voles are also members of the ‘endangered’ category. Carney recommends contacting your local wildlife trust to volunteer for vole patrol. This would entail surveying water voles and their habitat, as well as helping to manage and protect riverside areas to ensure their survival. Check out more information on vole patrols with your local trust here.
To help out the hedgehogs, Neil Verlander, a spokesperson for Friends of the Earth, recommends providing a safe space in your garden for log piles, an important space that hedgehogs can feed on.
Neil also recommends putting out a bowl of drinking water to ensure that your endangered friends always have something to drink, and avoiding using pesticides when possible so that wild animals are not unnecessarily endangered by chemicals in these products.
Ensuring that there are small gaps in your fence for hedgehogs and rabbits to move about and hunt easily is also really helpful.