Class Mammalia: The Mammals

Badger Meles meles

Badger (Meles meles) in a suburban garden.
28th October 2012. © Peter Hillman

Red Fox Vulpes vulpes

Young Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) on suburban garage roof.
4th September 2017. © Peter Hillman

You and I belong to this class of animals, and in classification we are in the order of primates, which include apes, monkeys, lemurs, amongst others. As humans, we are also mammals, and share the same common characterstics as all other mammals. We are warm-blooded, hairy, have specialised teeth and auditary bones. We are air-breathing and possess mammary glands and most of us have sweat glands. Mammals give birth to more or less fully developed young which are nurtured by their mother by being fed highly nutricious milk produced by the mammary glands, which is where the name of this class comes from. Mammals are extremely diverse and have conquered all of the planet. They live in the tree tops as primates, or in burrows in the ground as rodents, and also live in water like the whales and dolphins. Some even have taken to the air in the form of bats.

Mammals come in all shapes and sizes, from very large such as elephants, to very small like mice. Some only eat meat and are the carnivores, where others only eat plant matter and are the herbivores. Others, like ourselves, are omnivores and can survive on all manner of other life forms, from animals, insects and all kinds of invertebrates, plants, trees, and fungi.

As a group we have outlived the dinosaurs which were swept aside and completely decimated during the Permian-Triassic extinction event which occured some 241 million years ago. Now, we are the dominant force on the planet, and not only have we become the first class of the earth’s creatures to break beyond our own atmosphere in exploration of the space beyond, but we have farmed and harnessed most of the planets wealth for ourselves, so much so we have the theratened the stability of the planet’s ecosystem, and we can only hope our intelligence and protective nature will save us from a self made future extinction event.

Order Lagomorpha (Rabbits & hares)

Rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus

(Oryctolagus cuniculus)

Order Insectivora (Insectivores)

European Mole Talpa europaea molehill

(Talpa europaea) molehill

Order Rodentia (Rodents)

Grey Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis)

Grey Squirrel
(Sciurus carolinensis)

Brown Rat (Rattus norvegicus)

Brown Rat
(Rattus norvegicus)

Bank Vole Myodes glareolus

Bank Vole
(Myodes glareolus)

Field Vole Microtus agrestis

Field Vole
(Microtus agrestis)

House Mouse Mus musculus

House Mouse
(Mus musculus)

Order Carnivora (Carnivores)

Red Fox Vulpes vulpes

Red Fox
(Vulpes vulpes)

Badger Meles meles

(Meles meles)

Other Animal Encounters

Kashmiri Goats, Great Orme

Kashmiri Goat