Curator's choice - Natural history

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Mammals

badgerOur stuffed Badger, Red Squirrel and Polecat were all shot in the 1880s by a local butcher, Thomas Henry Streeter. At that time all would have been common here.

Badger

In contrast, Badgers are still found locally around the high plateau of Wimbledon, where there are many setts, not only in Richmond and Cannizaro Parks and Wimbledon Common, but also in neglected corners of our larger suburban gardens. This isolated population, cut off from the countryside, is unique in London.

For more information on mammals, the Mammal Society studies UK mammals.

Squirrel

The squirrel has since declined to extinction, largely as the result of a disease carried by the introduced North American Grey Squirrel. The last local sighting of a Red Squirrel was in the 1940s and they will not return unless they develop resistance to the disease.

Polecat

Polecats were regarded as vermin and were persecuted to near extinction in England at the beginning of the 20th century. They are now making a comeback in the west. They have got as far as Oxford and they may be found locally again one day.

Long-eared bat

The only recent specimen is a Brown Long-eared Bat found frozen on the Common in 1990. This, and five other species of bat, make the Common an important refuge for bats in London. The London Bat Group studies London’s bats.