What is a mammal?

Mammals are a particular class of animal. What makes an animal a mammal are several things. First, they must have glands that give milk. This is to feed their babies. Second, they are warm-blooded. Third, all mammals have fur or hair. Humans are mammals and so are dogs, whales, elephants, and horses. Most mammals have teeth with the exception of the ant eater which doesn’t have any teeth.

Mammals you might see at Hardwick Dene


The beautiful red fox, with its bushy tail and dog-like face is an efficient nocturnal creature which has 48 sub-species including colour variations termed silver or cross fox. Foxes live in Hardwick Dene and sometimes have pups here.
Look out for fox droppings as a sign they have been here- it’s similar size to dog poo but it smells musky and you can usually see fur, feathers and bone.


Image by Don Sutherland


Hedgehogs are a well known mammal in the UK. They have spikes all over their back and when they are scared they will roll up into a ball. They will eat almost anything; for example, worms, slugs, snails and frogs. As hedgehogs eat slugs and snails which can be a pest in the garden, they are often seen as a welcome garden visitor, but please be aware that slug pellets can poison hedgehogs. They usually come out at night between April and October.


Image by Tom Marshall


The grey squirrel is almost the size of a red squirrel and can grow to 30cm.
The hair is grey and fluffy and can sometimes seem brown.
Grey Squirrels can be seen looking for food around the Dene in Autumn when they bury it as a stash for Winter. See if you can spot any signs of feeding- look for acorns that have been split into two or have been nibbled on, leaving a jagged edge.


Image by Gillian Day


You might see some grey rabbits hopping around in the Dene, they have plenty to keep them busy, they will be foraging for food (they will eat almost anything green) reproducing or defending their territory. Can you spot any rabbit paw prints around the Dene?

(Width 25mm x Length 35mm)



Image by Tom Marshall