Perhaps now better known for their North American relatives, beavers are actually native to mainland Britain. But these industrious herbivores were hunted to extinction in the 16th century by people who wanted their fur, meat and scent glands.
The legendary Black Rat, whose rather wonderful Latin name is Rattus rattus, was the agent of the Black Death in Medieval Britain. Consequently, you may be glad to hear that this rodent is now extremely rare - possibly extinct - in this country.
British theatres revere the tradition of the theatre cat - though now a disappearing one. As rather unusual workplaces, in use for much longer hours during the week than most offices, there has often been provision of residential quarters for the theatre manager. They have frequently been accompanied by a resident feline, charged with keeping the mouse population down.
The Shetland Sheepdog, often known as the Sheltie, is a British breed of herding dog that originated in the Shetland Islands. The original name was Shetland Collie, but this caused confusion with the Rough Collie (the familiar and much larger dog often just known as a collie), so the breed's name was formally changed.
The Scottish wildcat clings on as a small enclave of the European wildcat species in Scotland. They are listed as Critically Endangered in the United Kingdom – with only 400 cats estimated to meet the genetic and morphological criteria of a wildcat, rather than a domestic cat.
This impressive bird of prey was once prevalent throughout the UK, until persecution reduced its range to Wales. But a highly successful reintroduction scheme has brought this bird back to many parts of England and Scotland, as well as Central Wales.
The Shetland pony is a hardy breed from the Shetland Isles, off Scotland’s north-east coast. It is the smallest breed of pony found in Britain, standing up to 107 cm at the withers. It has a heavy coat and short legs, is strong for its size, and is used for riding, driving, and pack purposes. For a period, the Shetlands played a key role in the British coal industry as 'pit ponies'.
The Highland is a Scottish breed of rustic cattle. It originated in the Scottish Highlands and the Outer Hebrides islands of Scotland and has long horns and a long shaggy coat. It is a hardy breed, bred to withstand the harsh conditions in the region.
If you see a slow worm (Anguis fragilis) in your garden, you'd be forgiven for thinking it's a snake. But it's actually a legless lizard, the only such creature native to Britain. Indeed, slow worms are probably the most frequently seen reptile in Britain, as they are less shy and slower to hide than the common lizard which is considered to be more prevalent in Britain.
The Suffolk Punch is an English breed of working or draught horse that played an important part in the development of agriculture and pre-mechanised haulage of goods like coal and beer. It is a much respected and admired animal.
Yes, you read that correctly. The Leopard Slug is a common British species that should actually be welcomed by gardeners. They don’t damage healthy, living plants, but they do eat other slugs, including those that can damage garden plants and vegetables.
Standing an impressive four feet high, the crane is the UK’s tallest bird. With a long neck and legs, slate-grey plumage and a wingspan of up to two metres, the loud, resonating call of the crane can be heard from quite a distance. Once a common a sight, the crane disappeared from the British countryside in the 1600s, with a combination of hunting and loss of wetland habitat leading to their decline.
The relatively rare red squirrel is the version native to the UK - having been around for approximately 10,000 years. They were almost driven to extinction, however, due to the invasion of the grey squirrel from North America.
Next time you are enjoying watching the ducks at a local park and then notice what appears to be a rat slipping into the water, you might actually have been lucky enough to see Britain's fastest disappearing mammal - the water vole.
The adder is the UK's only venomous (poisonous) snake - although their bites are rare, and hardly ever fatal. A relatively small and broad-set snake, the adder is acclimatised to woodland, heathland and moorland habitats. When spotted, it is often when they are basking in the sunshine!
The Red Deer is Britain's largest land mammal. They are a native species having migrated to Britain from Europe 11,000 years ago. The population has declined at various times in the past, but is currently on the rise.
Britain is home to 18 species of bats, of which the common pipistrelle bat is the smallest. It has a wing span of about 22 to 25 centimetres with an average life span of four to five years. These bats are common to woodland and farmland but are also found in towns, where the females roost in lofts and buildings when rearing young.
The hedgehog is one of Britain's favourite mammals, and was once a common sight in gardens and parks after dark. However, they are becoming increasingly rare, with the population thought to have declined significantly overall, and by a third in urban areas since 2000.
With its characteristic black and white-striped face, grey fur and short furry tail, the badger looks like no other UK mammal. Stocky, powerfully-built creatures, they typically weigh 10–12kg, with a body length of about 90cm. This makes them the biggest land predator in the UK.
The North Ronaldsay is a breed of sheep from the northernmost island of Orkney, off the north coast of Scotland. The rugged animals have evolved to live almost entirely on seaweed - one of few mammals to do so.
The modern Border Collie is recognised to be an extremely intelligent, athletic, and energetic breed of dog. They originated in Northumberland on the borders of England and Scotland, having been developed over centuries for herding sheep, a role in which they are now well-known.
The little Skye Terrier has had mixed fortunes over the years. Ancestor of many terrier breeds, this plucky hunting dog became a favourite of queens and great ladies, but now is an uncommon sight even in Scotland from whence it originated.
The tiny, brown wood mouse is one of Britain's most common rodents, and is very likely to be found in the garden. Cat owners are especially likely to be aware if wood mice are about! It is similar to the house mouse, but has larger ears and eyes relative to its size.
The Tamworth is considered Britain’s oldest pure breed and is similar in appearance to the Old English Forest Pig. They came to public attention and gained a reputation for intelligence in 1998, when the ‘Tamworth Two’, Sundance and Butch, spent a week on the run after absconding from a Wiltshire abattoir.
The Welsh Springer dog breed is a member of the spaniel family. Thought to be comparable to the old Land Spaniel, they are also similar to the English Springer Spaniel. Historically they have been referred to as both the Welsh Spaniel and the Welsh Cocker Spaniel.
The wild rabbit is a much-loved creature by many Britons because it looks so cuddly, harmless and defenceless. But farmers are often less keen, and rue the day that these foreign mammals were brought to Britain to breed... like rabbits.
Though probably Britain's most familiar deer, the fallow deer is a continental interloper. Thought to be native to the Eastern Mediterranean, they moved westwards with the Romans, and were finally introduced to the British Isles by the Normans around the 11th century.
Feral parakeets are wild-living, non-native birds that have established themselves as a colourful addition to the UK's wildlife. There are now estimated to be nearly 9, 000 breeding pairs in Britain. The origins of these birds are subject to speculation, but are generally thought to have bred from those that escaped from captivity.
The wild otter species found in Britain is now making a remarkable comeback, after suffering catastrophic declines in the 1950s and 1960s due to the combined effects of water pollution, habitat destruction and persecution. Otters are often elusive, with large ranges and largely nocturnal behaviour, making spotting them a rare and delightful experience.
Originally bred as fighting dogs, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, or "Staffie" has a mixed reputation. Many regard them with suspicion as aggressive dogs, but owners testify to the Staffie's loving temperament as a family pet.
Great Crested Newts are one of three newt species in the UK and are also the biggest. These interesting amphibians have become the legendary foe of builders, as they are heavily protected by UK and European law and their discovery on the site is notorious for delaying or disrupting development plans.
Weasels are the UK’s smallest carnivores. Around 7 inches high, with red or brown upper coats and white bellies, they belong to a group of animals known as mustelids - meaning they have a long body and short legs, and are related to otters and stoats (with which they are sometimes confused).
The Carneddau Mountain range in the Snowdonia National Park is home to a small population of around 300 semi-feral distinctive-looking Carneddau ponies, whose history is thought to date back to the Bronze Age. Although they are not designated as a rare breed, they are genetically separate from the Welsh Mountain pony and carry genes specifically related to hardiness and waterproofing.
Red Rum was a champion Thoroughbred steeplechaser. He is the only horse in the history of the Grand National to win the race three times and on the two occasions that he ran and did not win he came second.
The Airedale Terrier is a British dog breed that originated in the valley of the River Aire in Yorkshire. It is traditionally called the "King of Terriers" because it is the largest of the terrier breeds, and has been used as a hunting dog, farm dog, and to carry messages during World War 1.