What Are The Top Five Endangered Species in the UK?

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What Are The Top Five Endangered Species in the UK?

When you think of endangered species, it’s easy to automatically think about Javan Rhino or Amur Leopards. However, we have several endangered species in the UK.

In this blog, we’ll discuss what species are endangered and how we can help.

What is an Endangered Species?

An endangered species is a species that is on the brink of extinction. Many factors can be the cause of extinction, such as habitat loss, poaching, and climate change.

The International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List names the global status of many species and other organisations that assess the status of species in specific regions.

Additionally, many countries have independent laws on species and how to protect them.

What is the Difference Between an Endangered Species and a Protected Species?

A protected species is just that; a species that is protected by law or a governing body. This can be international law, local law or differ from region to region.

However, an endangered species is on the brink of extinction and it is up to governing bodies and local governments to protect these species by law. The term is often associated with the IUCN list.

In the UK, many species are protected by UK and EU laws. These laws prevent harm to the animal or their habitats.

What Are the Top Five Endangered Animals in the UK?

Red Squirrel

Once a common sight across the UK, the red squirrel population has been on a steady decline in the UK. Since the introduction of the American grey squirrel in the early 20th century, red squirrels have become less and less common. Grey squirrels are naturally larger, which makes it easier for them to compete for foods such as nuts and seeds.

Red squirrels are now only found in Scotland, Northern Ireland and the very north of England.

Water Vole

As well as being endangered in the UK, these semi-aquatic animals are also a protected species in the UK. Water voles, are the largest vole species in Britain and were once a common site across our waterways. However, it is thought that they have lost 90% of their habitats which has driven the species to near extinction. 

As this species is protected by law, it’s important that if you’re looking to have any development work done on your land, a water vole survey is conducted. If the development site could be a natural water vole habitat, local authorities may request a survey during planning permission applications.

Scottish Wildcat

According to a wildcat campaign, there are only 35 Scottish wildcats left in the wild. Whilst domestic cats have been crossbreeding with the wildcats, it dilutes the wildcat gene until it is completely wiped out.

Conservation efforts are working to prevent crossbreeding to slow the dilution of the wildcat gene.

Hazel Dormouse

Small but mighty, the hazel dormouse is a flagship species as their conservation has an umbrella effect on protecting other species. It’s this fact that makes them a protected species by UK and EU law.

Often considered the cutest rodent on UK soil, its protected species status means that any damage to its habitat or species is punishable by law and may result in a fine.

If you are undergoing any development work where dormice may be present (woodlands, hedgerows, shrubs), you should consider a dormouse survey.


Did you know that hedgehogs have been in decline over the last 70 years? Building developments and the spike in urban areas have limited their natural habitats which has led to the declining population. Ongoing conservation efforts include legal protection (making them a protected species) under the Wildlife and Countryside Act.

If you’re undergoing some work or thinking about a new development project, get in touch with Greenlight Environmental Consultancy. Our team will be happy to answer any questions you have and help provide the surveys needed for local planning permissions.