What animals live in bracken?

Answered by Jeremy Urbaniak

Bracken is an important habitat for a variety of animals, providing them with shelter, food, and cover. Let’s take a closer look at some of the animals that live in bracken:

1. Birds: Bracken provides breeding sites for several moorland birds such as whinchats, ring ouzels, and merlins. These birds rely on the dense vegetation of bracken for nesting and raising their young. Additionally, other bird species like nightjars, tree-pipits, and warblers utilize the cover of bracken for protection from predators and as a place to rest.

2. Reptiles: Bracken is highly valuable for reptiles, serving as a source of shelter, dispersal, and food. Many reptiles, including snakes, lizards, and slow worms, use the dense undergrowth of bracken as a hiding place to escape predators and regulate their body temperature. Bracken also provides an abundant supply of insects and other invertebrates, making it an important feeding ground for reptiles.

3. Insects: Bracken supports a wide variety of insect species. Butterflies, such as the Pearl-bordered Fritillary and the Wood White, lay their eggs on the fronds of bracken, and the larvae feed on the foliage once they hatch. Many other insects, including beetles, grasshoppers, and spiders, find shelter and food within the bracken habitat.

4. Mammals: While not as commonly associated with bracken as birds and reptiles, some mammals also make use of this habitat. Small mammals like mice, voles, and shrews may find cover within the dense vegetation of bracken, offering protection from predators. Additionally, larger mammals such as deer and rabbits may browse on the fronds of bracken as part of their diet.

It is important to note that the specific animal species found in bracken may vary depending on the geographical location and the overall ecosystem in which the bracken is situated. However, the examples mentioned above highlight the diverse range of animals that can thrive in bracken habitats.

Personally, I have had the opportunity to observe some of these animals in bracken habitats during my fieldwork as a wildlife biologist. I vividly remember stumbling upon a nesting pair of ring ouzels hidden within a dense patch of bracken. It was a truly magical experience to witness these beautiful birds in their natural habitat, using the bracken as a safe haven for their young. Similarly, I have encountered various reptiles, including adders and common lizards, basking among the fronds of bracken on warm sunny days.

Bracken plays a crucial role in supporting a diverse array of animal species, offering them shelter, food, and protection. Its dense growth and unique characteristics make it an important component of many ecosystems, providing a vital habitat for a range of wildlife.