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Five questions about British wildlife – Quick Quiz answers

The European red fox (Vulpes vulpes)We asked you five questions about British wildlife. Here come the answers!

  1. Name three species of snake which are native to Britain.
    There are only three, in fact:

    • the grass snake (Natrix natrix), found in lowland areas of England and Wales but only rarely in Scotland;
    • the smooth snake (Coronella austriaca), found on heathland in central southern England; and
    • the adder (Vipera berus; also known as the viper), found across Great Britain. Although venomous, the adder rarely bites humans except if disturbed or alarmed. It featured memorably on the opening credits of the classic BBC drama series I, Claudius.
  2. The scientific name bufo bufo is more commonly known as what?
    The common toad. It’s so much more common than Great Britain’s only other toad (the natterjack toad, found only in a few coastal areas) that it’s often referred to simply as the “toad”.
  3. Where would you expect to see rock doves?
    In nature, you’d normally find them around cliffs, especially coastal ones. But you’re far more likely to have come across them, in their multitudes, in cities – domestic pigeons (and their feral offshoots) are the result of selective breeding of rock doves.
  4. How good are you with collective terms for animals? What is the collective term for:
    1. moles?
      A labour or company. But don’t bother remembering this term, as you’re never likely to need it – moles are solitary animals, only ever coming together to mate.
    2. foxes? – A skulk or leash. Foxes typically live in family groups, but where the habitat’s favourable, there may be subordinate foxes present in a range – usually a previous year’s young who help with rearing the breeding vixen’s cubs.
    3. badgers? – A cete. The European badger (Meles meles) is sociable, forms groups of about six adults on average and has been known to share its sett with rabbits or even foxes.
  5. What is the most common bird of prey in Britain?
    The common kestrel (Falco tinnunculus). Its ability to hover is remarkable, even within such sheltered places as barns. It’s often to be seen near motorways and major roads, where the creation and maintenance of thousands of acres of grassy verge has given it a superb hunting opportunity.

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