Exotic wildlife: Thriving in the UK
Raccoon dogs from East Asia, yellow-tailed scorpions from Italy, ringnecked parakeets from India and Australian red-necked wallabies are some of the more exotic non-native species now residing – and often thriving – in parts of the UK.
Common invasive pests that folks often moan about include grey squirrels and minks from North America, which eat or outcompete some native species. No complaints about small numbers of Chinese muntjac deer, now endangered in Asia, however. Many non-natives walk the line between exotic curiosities and invasive pests, such as wallabies in Scotland and colorful parakeets in London parks. I doubt many Brits fancy stepping on a poisonous scorpion during a summer walk in Kent, though.
From an article in the Telegraph:
More obscure animals residing in the UK include the coati, also known as the Brazilian aardvark, with around 10 believed to be living wild in Cumbria, and snapping turtles, which were first identified in a garden pond in 1993.
A new study called the Eden Wildlife Report examines these non-native species and what types of threats they pose to native wildlife in the UK.
The author of the report is quoted in an article for the Independent:
The report shows that a number of exotic, non-native species currently existing in the wild in the UK are considered to pose a threat to some indigenous species. This threat is expected to manifest itself by leading to a potential loss of these indigenous species.
–Dr Toni Bunnell, University of Hull
An interesting point I often think of when reading about tropical species surviving in far-flung, sometimes freezing cold, environments is how remarkable it is that they survive – even thrive – in habitats so different from the ones they evolved in. This may offer clues into how certain species will react to climate change when it invades their homes. Maybe they’re invading us as a bit of payback. After all it was we who brought them here in the first place.