There are a number of animals which provoke surprise when spotted in Britain, even if their presence is better-known to keen followers of wildlife.
How many of these unusual animals have you seen?
A lack of natural predators, lots of food and an abundance of shelter lead to high survival rates for wild boar piglets in the Forest of Dean ©Alamy
The Forest of Dean is home to Britain’s largest wild boar population. Sightings of these stout, bristly haired creatures are becoming more frequent in this ancient forest they’ve made home, growing in numbers since a group escaped from a farm in the 1990s, followed by an illegal release in 2004. No one knows for sure how many there are – it’s believed to be over 1,500 – but signs of them are everywhere, from wallow pits in the mud and tusk-scarred trees to churned-up grass verges. They are nature’s rotators. Spot these elusive creatures yourself with 10-mile bike ride through the forest.
The second largest group in the country is in the Weald in Kent/Sussex, followed by South Devon and the Brecon Beacons, although the size in the latter two is unknown. Boar, famous for their razor-sharp tusks, are listed under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976, and can weigh over 150kg. Police have urged walkers to stick to marked woodland paths.
Stay safe in the forest with four simple rules:
- Keep your dog on a lead
- Do not feed the boar
- Do not approach the boar
- Walk away steadily
Coati are also known as Brazilian aardvark ©Getty
Also known as the Brazilian aardvark, 10 to 12 coati have been spotted in Cumbria over the last few years. Cumbria Wildlife Trust say coati have been breeding, having escaped captivity. Originating from South America, it particularly came as a shock when it was discovered so many were surviving in one of England’s northernmost counties. Another sighting was reported in early 2015 in Buckinghamshire.
Ring-necked parakeets are also known as rose-ringed parakeet ©Getty
It is often assumed that parakeets are suited to warm environments, hence why the UK appears to be an unlikely location in which to find them. Originally from the Himalayan foothills, however, according to the RSPB, there are now around 86,000 breeding pairs in the UK.
The ring-necked parakeet, which has been spotted in each of the capital’s 33 boroughs, is one of the 20 most-sighted birds in London, partly because of the stable food supply they now find in gardens, as members of the public increasingly buy bird-feeders.
Find out more about ring-necked parakeets in the UK here.
How would you react if you aw a wallaby in the British countryside? ©Ron Newbould
72-year-old walker Ron Newbould was shocked to come across a wallaby (pictured) on a bright summer’s day passing through English countryside. To experts, however, the only surprise is likely to have been that it was in Buckinghamshire rather than Staffordshire, where a colony of wallabies have lived for seven decades since a handful were released into the wild during the Second World War.
Though it initially expanded in number to 50 or so, there were thought to only be three left by 1995. But two females survived into the 21st century, and the odd sighting is still reported to this day.
European yellow-tailed scorpion is most abundant at Sheerness Dock ©Getty
Scorpions have populated the walls of Sheerness Docks in Kent for centuries. There are now believed to be as many as 10,000. Sightings have also been reported in Harwich, Tilbury and Portsmouth docks, but no population has settled for anything like as long as the Sheerness colony.
The European yellow-tailed scorpion’s sting is less powerful than a bee’s. Females can grow to be 32 millimetres long.
Find out more about scorpions in Britain here.
Main image ©Getty