From wallabies to chipmunks, the exotic creatures thriving in the UK

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

A A A

It would be interesting to know what Beatrix Potter would have made of it. Dozens of exotic species, whose natural habitats range from the lower reaches of the Yangtze River to the steamy canopy of the Amazonian rainforest by way of the arid Australian Outback, are thriving in the temperate climes of the British countryside.

A report published today reveals that scorpions, aardvarks and even wallabies are among the creatures living alongside the UK's traditional fauna of hedgehogs, badgers and squirrels. It is feared that a continued growth in their numbers could contribute to the threat to native animals, through habitat loss and competition for food.

The report's author, Dr Toni Bunnell of the University of Hull, who is an expert in mammal conservation and runs her own hedgehog sanctuary in York, said there is cause for concern. "The report shows that a number of exotic, non-native species currently existing in the wild in the UK are considered to pose a threat to some indigenous species. This threat is expected to manifest itself by leading to a potential loss of these indigenous species," she said.

According to The Eden Wildlife Report, animals such as wild boar have grown prolifically in number in the South-east of England after escaping from their enclosures during the great storm of 1987. It is now estimated there are 900 living in woodland between Kent and Dorset.

The most common exotic creature is the ring-necked parakeet, which is originally from south Asia and Africa but now has a British population of up to 50,000. The bird is a commonplace sight from the Surrey commuter belt – where it began breeding in the 1970s – to Wales and Scotland, where it is in competition with woodpeckers and starlings. Some species have been here for many years. A colony of 13,000 poisonous yellow-tailed scorpions has been established in a brick wall at Sheerness, Kent since arriving aboard ships carrying Italian masonry in 1860; but others are more recent.

The Siberian chipmunk, one of the EU's 100 most invasive species, is thought to have arrived via the Channel Tunnel and now has a population of 1,000, mainly in the South-east. It is also estimated that there are 10 raccoon dogs which escaped from fur factories and are now in competition with foxes and badgers for food. Some 20 snapping turtles found in British ponds and streams, meanwhile, are believed to be descendants of pets abandoned by their owners.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Stiller as Derek Zoolander in the leaked trailer for Zoolander 2
film
Sport
footballArsenal take the Community Shield thanks to a sensational strike from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Arts and Entertainment
Gemma Chan as synth Anita in Humans
film
News
Keeping it friendly: Tom Cruise on ‘The Daily Show’ with Jon Stewart
people
Arts and Entertainment
Ensemble cast: Jamie McCartney with ‘The Great Wall of Vagina’
artBritish artist Jamie McCartney explains a work that is designed to put women's minds at rest
News
Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Engineer

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity for an I...

Recruitment Genius: Project Assistant

£17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a leading company in the field ...

Recruitment Genius: DBA Developer - SQL Server

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

£26041 - £34876 per annum: Recruitment Genius: There has never been a more exc...

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen