Field guide to the most commonly encountered mammals and birds

Here, we provide some basic information regarding commonly observed species (plus some others about which we have had queries).  

Feel free to contact us by email if you have any questions regarding species you have encountered on the site.

For more information about mammals, we recommend the Mammal Society's species hub, here, and MammalNet here. For birds, excellent resources are available from the RSPB (here) and the BTO (here).


Common UK Mammals All UK Mammals Common UK Birds All Species All Deer

Black rat (ship rat)

Scientific name: Rattus rattus

Family: Muridae

Appearance: The Black or Ship Rat is smaller than the Brown Rat and has sleek black or grey-brown fur, large eyes, almost hairless ears and a thin tail.

Size:  Head and body 15-24cm; Tail 11.5-26cm

Natural History: The Black Rat is now exceedingly rare in Great Britain, after centuries of targeted control and competition from the Brown Rat. It is largely nocturnal and lives in groups with a dominant male and several females. 

 (C) Susannah Anderson (shared under a CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license)