Popular wildlife queries
For general wildlife queries see the list below. If this does not answer your question please contact the Countryside and Wildlife Team.
For more information on badgers please see the Badger Trust
The European Badger (Meles meles) is easily recognisable with its black and white markings and is a generally shy species. They are nocturnal but are sometimes seen at dawn and dusk. Badgers are social animals and live in family units, called ‘clans’. The same pathways to feeding grounds are used by the family throughout their lives, even when obstacles such as fences, roads and buildings encroach on them.
Badgers are omnivorous and eat a variety of foods, including earthworms (their main diet), small mammals, grubs, fruits, bulbs and berries. When food supply is scarce they will scavenge from gardens and dustbins which may bring them into conflict with people.
The State of Mammals in Wales 2020 reports that the conservation status of Badgers in Wales is of Least Concern and their prospects are good.
For more information on Bats please see the Bat Conservation Trust.
Bats are fantastic creatures. They are all in decline and are protected by European and UK legislation.
Bats do not pose a threat to public health, as human contact with them is very rare, even when they share the same buildings.
Bat droppings are dry and crumble away to dust. There are no known health risks associated with them.
Because bats do not build nests, they leave very little or no damage to buildings, preferring instead to hang up or crawl into cracks and crevices.
Bats make our summer evenings more bearable by eating a variety of pests particularly midges.
Bats are not blind; in fact their eyesight is quite good. They are very unlikely to fly into you, or get tangled in your hair – for them that would be like you walking into a wall!
If you find a bat indoors that can fly try closing the door to the room, opening the windows to the outside as widely as possible and turn off the lights. The bat will try to get out of the room as soon as it can.
The UK has around 590 species of bees wasps and ants which make up the order Hymenoptera. For more information on the mostly unknown species see the Bees, Wasps & Ants Recording Society. Most species are pollinators making them essential to our economy. They are so beneficial to our environment we do not advocate removing nests.
The species we get most questions about are honey bees, bumblebees and wasps.
Honey bees – for more information and how to find a swarm collector please see the British Beekeepers Association. If you do find a swarm it is important that it is collected by a qualified keeper as soon as possible.
Bumblebees – for more information please see the Bumblebee Conservation Trust. In spring you may see very large bumblebees looking for nest sites. These are the queens. They are coming out of hibernation and need food quickly. Planting overwintering flowers and spring bulbs can really help bumblebees. If you have a nest in your property it is best to leave it until the bees die in the winter. They will not use the same nest next year.
Wasps – are brilliant pest controllers, they eat flies, aphids, caterpillars and other invertebrates. They are also amazing architects making perfect hexagonal cells in their nest out of wood mulched into paper. For more information see Buglife.
For information on how to control wasps please see our Pest Control page.
If you have birds nesting in your house then that nest is protected until the chicks have fledged and the nest is no longer in use. While there may be some mess made birds do not damage internal items such as wires and can be left to complete their nesting. If you want to prevent birds nesting again wait until they have finished and moved the chicks away then block up the hole they used for access.For information on birds and advice on encouraging them, from nest boxes to habitat management please see the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.
Foxes have adapted well to living near humans. They find an easy source of food from the things we throw away.
Unless cornered foxes are often timid in the presence of humans. They may be seen in the day time but this is usually due to a lack of feeding opportunities at night.
To deter foxes make sure all food is put out in the food waste caddy and any cat and do food is placed in a secured area.
For information, or to locate a carer for a sick or injured hedgehog, please contact the British Hedgehog Preservation Society.
The Hedgehog is the gardener's friend that eats slugs and snails. Hedgehogs generally hibernate between November and March. However, this is weather dependent so they may hibernate as early as September. If you wish to leave food out for hedgehogs, a plain, meat-based pet food and a little dried cat food is good. Alternatively, you may leave out unsweetened muesli or weetabix and a handful of raisins. Fresh water is the best thing to offer as a drink. But please remember that other animals may use this source of food.
Mink are not protected as they are non-native introductions to the UK from the US. The release of American mink is illegal under Schedule 9 (Part I) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Mink kill fish, water voles and also ground nesting birds. It is therefore recommended that Mink are trapped and eradicated in the interest of nature conservation. It must be noted that if they are caught humanely, it is an offence to re-release them back into the wild. You may find a local company that will deal with the capture and disposal of this species. Please ensure that Mink are not confused with Otters as Otters are protected by law.
Moles are not classed as pests. The Biodiversity Unit can only recommend that sonic devices be used to deter them, as they do not like vibration. Whilst they are using your lawn, why not use the good quality soil they dig up for pots, borders and baskets. It isn't advised to use chemical products as a deterrent as it would be likely to affect the beneficial wildlife that inhabits your garden.
Otters (Lutra lutra) are highly adapted, aquatic hunters with long streamlined bodies, rudder-like tails and webbed feet. The Otter is one of the largest British carnivores. Formerly widespread throughout Wales, the Otter suffered a national decline and largely disappeared from the Neath Port Talbot area during the 1950–70s. Their demise coincided with the first widespread use of organochlorine pesticides. Following a population recovery during the late 1980s/early 1990s, largely due to improvements in river water quality, Otters can be found on the main rivers and tributaries; all canals; at Pant-y-Sais Fen and in coastal salt marsh areas in Neath Port Talbot.
For more information please see the See the UK Government Prevent harmful weeds and invasive non-native plants spreading page and the GB Non-Native Species Secretariat.
Japanese Knotweed is an invasive species. It is an offence to plant or cause Japanese Knotweed to spread under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981). All waste containing Japanese Knotweed comes under the Control of Part II of the Environmental Protection Act (1990) and consequently must be disposed of at a suitably licensed waste disposal site. It must not be put in the green bags provided for garden waste, such as grass and hedge clippings. For further advice, please refer to UK Government Invasive Plant pages.
The Countryside and Wildlife Team occasionally facilitate the removal Japanese Knotweed from sites where there is a biodiversity interest. Please contact the team for more information.
NPTCBC does not remove Japanese Knotweed from private land.
Himalayan Balsam is an invasive species. It is an offence to plant or cause Himalayan Balsam to spread under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981).
For further advice, please refer to UK Government Invasive Plant pages.
The Countryside and Wildlife Team occasionally facilitate the removal of Himalayan Balsam from sites where there is a biodiversity interest. Please contact the team for more information.
NPTCBC does not remove Himalayan Balsam from private land.
Ragwort is a native plant that has many benefits for wildlife. However, it is known to be toxic to livestock and horses. With correct management it can be eradicated from feeding sites while still being an asset to biodiversity in more appropriate area.
The UK Government have identified 3 categories of risk for Ragwort:
- High risk - where ragwort is flowering or seeding within 50 metres of land used for grazing by horses and other animals or for feed/forage production
- Medium risk - where ragwort is present within 50 to 100 metres of land used for grazing by horses and other animals or for feed/forage production
- Low risk - where ragwort or the land on which it is present is more than 100 metres from land used for grazing by horses and other animals, or for feed/forage production
When Ragwort is found in a low risk area we recommend that it is left as it has major biodiversity benefits.
NPT has 4 species of reptile – Slow worm, Common lizard, Grass snake and Adder.
Download our free Amphibians and Reptiles in NPT leaflet for more information and help with identifying them.
If you have found a reptile in your garden think about whether or not it really needs removing. Slow worms are legless lizards and are often mistaken for snakes. They eat slugs and can be a great addition to your garden.
Grass snakes are not dangerous. They like to find warm places to bask near water as they mostly eat small mammals and amphibians. They may use your compost heap to lay their eggs in.
Adders are the UK’s only venomous snake. Adders can be found in many area of NPT particularly the Afan Valley and Port Talbot. Their venom can cause an unpleasant reaction but is not life threatening. Adders will only bite if they are disturbed or antagonised and the danger of the bite is often exaggerated. If you are out walking and you or your pet are bitten by an adder remember that you were in its habitat and it was only trying to defend itself, but please seek medical help as soon as possible as a precaution.
Due to their specific habitat requirements Adders are only occasional found in gardens. If you find an adder on your property simply leave it alone to warm up in the sun and move away. To deter them from getting into your garden keep a short mown strip around the edges, they would rather not cross this.
To find out more about reptiles in your area find your local Amphibian and Reptile Group.
Humans have always lived with spiders and many people have an genuine fear of them. There are no dangerous or aggressive spiders in the UK.
Spiders are great predators and we would soon notice if we didn’t have any. There are many living with us that we never even known about.
In the autumn House spiders are more noticeable as they move about the house looking for a mate.
Spiders known as False widows appear a lot in the news but you are very unlikely to ever see one even though they live in houses. They are beautiful shiny spiders which are often mistaken for the Black widow spider, hence the name. While they are capable of biting humans they would need to be provoked and the bite is no worse than a bee sting.
For the facts about spider bites see the Buglife spider bites page.
Grey Squirrels are not protected as they are a non-native introduction. If they are found in the property, they have come in through gaps in the roof or under fascia boards. These should be blocked up. Electrical cables may be affected, as squirrels like to gnaw through them.
Until recently anyone catching a grey squirrel was required by law to kill it to help to preserve the native red species. The legislation has now been reformed, allowing people to release the animals into the wild – but they must have a licence to do so.