Fen provides a large number of habitats in which mammals and evidence of
their presence may be found. Some species are permanently present and
several others visit the Fen.
1923, in the book The Natural History of Wicken Fen, Evans considered that
Ďwe have no constantly resident
Wicken Fen mammals except the rodentsí. This is not true today.
We can now see shrews, mole, stoat, weasel and fox throughout the
year in addition to rabbit and the small rodents. When the water table is
high and flooding occurs all the species find refuges in the slightly
elevated areas. There are also a wide range of habitats for mammals in the
land The National Trust has acquired to the south of the Sedge Fen. Thus
mammals may be more numerous in the 21st century at Wicken than
they were in past years.
is never easy to see mammals when walking in the country but with luck and
perseverance most people should have some success. Deer, rabbits and brown
hares are the most likely species to be seen at Wicken. There are also
tracks and signs to look out for such as footprints, fur, and scats,
droppings and spraints (poo!).
Species that have been seen at Wicken Fen nature reserve
long-eared bat (Plecotus
- Occasionally caught in mist nets by bird ringers, and released.
Noctule bat (Nyctalus noctula) - Commonly seen on suitable evenings. Tends to fly
early in the evening, usually fast and high. It is often audible, making a
shrill metallic squeak when it is hunting.
Common Pipistrelle bat (Pipistrellus
pipistrellus) - A very common species. It is often seen flying, with
its rapid wing beat, around buildings and elsewhere at dusk.
(Pipistrellus pygmaeus) - Occasionally recorded on bat detectors. There is
probably a roost in a nearby building to the Fen.
Daubentonís bat (Myotis daubentoni) - Has been noted to forage along the Lode.
mystacinus) - A roost occurred in one of the Fen buildings. Not sure
if it is still present.
lutra) - The otter is back at Wicken Fen after an absence of many
years. The improvement in the quality of our rivers, the banning of some
pesticides, and legal protection, has helped the otter population to
recover in Britain. It is now possible to find otter spraints (poo) at
Wicken on occasions.
Photo (right) shows the prints
of an otter
(Erinaceus europaeus) - Resident
on the Fen and found hibernating in bramble patches on the drier areas of
Mole (Talpa euronaea) - Abundant all over the Fen except in the very wet
areas during flooding. Dead, presumably drowned, individuals may be
observed in flooded areas. Tunnels close to the surface and the mounds of
excavated earth are obvious on the droves.
Common Shrew (Sorex arumeus) - Abundant throughout the Fen and very tolerant of
wet conditions. A few albino specimens have been recorded.
Pygmy Shrew (Sorex minutus) -
Occasional in all habitats.
Water Shrew (Neomys fodians) - Trapping results indicate that this species is
only occasionally present in sedge fields and fen carr. However, it is the
most common species found dead on the ground.
vulpes) - Probably breeds regularly on the Fen, but it is not often
seen. Foxes have also seen on the restored habitats of Guinea Hall Fen and
erminea) - Occasionally observed and probably resident on
Adventurersí Fen and Wicken Sedge Fen. Individuals with some white hair
have been seen in winter. Sight records suggest that it is more common
than the weasel.
Weasel (Mustela nivalis) - Occasionally seen and trapped in sedge fields,
fen carr and their droves.
American Mink (Mustela vison) - An introduced species now feral after escaping from
the fur farms. It is occasionally seen on Wicken Fen, but we do not know
if it breeds here.
Brown Hare (Lepus
capensis) - Resident and breeding on Adventurersí Fen and Guinea
Hall. It is an occasional visitor to Wicken Sedge Fen. Photo, below,
courtesy of Kevin Simmonds.
Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) - Large colonies present along the waterproof
banks on Adventurersí Fen. Confined to the village end of Sedge Fen and
the Brickpits area on Little Breed Fen.
(Sciurus carolinensis) -
Resident and breeding in small numbers in the mature trees near the
brickpits and the north side of Wicken Fen. Commonly seen bounding along
droves and in areas of fen carr.
Harvest Mouse (Micromys minitus) - Common at ground level in sedge fields during
autumn and winter (revealed by live-trapping). Possibly resident all the
year at higher levels. Nests have been found in reeds on Adventurersí
Fen. Evans (1923) records show that they bred in the neighbouring fields
at that time. Photo, right, courtesy of Kevin Simmonds.
Wood Mouse (Apodemus sylvaticus) - Common in the fen carr, sedge and litter
fields. Never reaches high densities.
House Mouse (Mus musculus) - Rare in sedge fields where a few individuals may
occur during the summer months.
Brown Rat (Rattus nervagicus) - Occasionally
seen near buildings around the Fen. The 1947 edition of the Wicken Fen
Guide states that brown rats were common in the flooded Adventurersí Fen
in 1931-40, living in the half-submerged sedge tussocks. They were almost
completely aquatic and ate the eggs and young of black-headed gulls and
Bank Vole (Clethrionomys glareolus) - Usually abundant in sedge fields, litter
fields and fen carr wherever the ground cover is dense. In dry years peak
number numbers are reached in July or August.
Water Vole (Arvicola terrestris) - This threatened and declining species was
common along the lodes and ditches at Wicken Fen in the 1970s. However,
numbers declined in the 1980s and it was probably locally extinct by 1990.
The good news is that water voles are back at Wicken, with several
sightings in 2006. One pair took up residence in the pond by the Visitor
Centre in 2007.
Field Vole (Microtus agrestis) - Common in letter and sedge fields wherever
grasses replace, or are mixed with, reeds and sedge. They are generally
absent from stands of pure reeds and from fen carr.
Coypu (Myocaster coypus) - One individual was trapped in April 1978 at
Wicken. This was an introduced species which escaped from fur farms, and
was eradicated from Britain in the 1980s.
capreolus) - Very few Roe Deer were seen at Wicken until new wet
grassland areas were created as part of the Wicken Vision. Now small
groups can often be seen on Burwell Fen. 16 were seen on one occasion in
2006. Photo, below, courtesy of Kevin Simmonds.
Muntjac (Munticus reevesi) - can regularly be seen in the woodland areas of
the nature reserve, especially in Little Breed Fen.
Chinese Water Deer (Hyropotes
inermis) - occasionally individuals of this species have been seen.
This species is slowly increasing its numbers in East Anglia.