Isle of Wight
Carefree short breaks & holidays
Mild climate and sea air, separation from the bustling mainland, and the different habitats created by the unique topography and geology of the Isle of Wight are reflected in its abundant and varied wildlife.
Red squirrel © IW Tourism
About 40 mammal species are found on the Isle of Wight. Hedgehogs and moles are common, and there are 10 resident species of bat, while rabbits and hares are evenly distributed throughout. Dormice flourish in the undergrowth. Badgers, foxes, weasels and stoats are frequently sighted, together with the occasional otter, which swims over from the mainland but rarely stays. Roe and Red Deer are possibly the Island's rarest wild mammals.
The Isle of Wight is one of the few places left in Britain where you can see the native red squirrel in its natural habitat. Red squirrels are plentiful in the Island's broadleaved woods, particularly in Parkhurst Forest near Newport. Rope bridges span a few of the Island's busier roads, enabling red squirrels to cross safely from one side to the other. An independent conservation charity, The Wight Squirrel Project, works to ensure the Island remains a safe haven for these rare and beautiful creatures.
Ventor is home to a thriving colony of wall lizards, one of 20 such colonies found throughout Britain. The harmless 8cm-long lizards shelter in the nooks and crannies of drystone walls and rockeries at Ventnor Botanic Gardens and are most active on sunny days between April and October. The lizards are thought to have been introduced to the Island from Italy during the Victorian period.
The Island supports an ever-changing resident and migratory bird population. There are many coastal nesting sites, with the main sites at Freshwater Bay and Culver Down. Cormorants, shags, wintering grebes, waders, and wildfowl can all be spotted along northern creeks and around Brading. A recent decline in guillemots and razorbills has been accompanied by a rise in peregrines, which colonise Freshwater, and fulmars, which can be seen on the south coast from Blackgang to Culver Down.
The barn owl and long-eared owl are commonly seen at dusk. Other distinctive species include the green and great spotted woodpeckers, the collared dove, and a few pairs of Dartford warblers. Ravens and rooks have managed to survive habitat change.
Butterfly © IW Tourism
The Island is particularly rich in butterflies. The downlands, covered in their own distinctive plant species, are home to a wide variety of butterflies, including the chalk hill blue and Adonis blue.
The small blue can be found in relative abundance on Compton Down and Afton Down. The Isle of Wight provides a great habitat for fritillaries. The dark green and silver-washed are found on the downs; Parkhurst Forest holds brown pearl-bordered and marsh varieties; Newtown and Hamstead the high brown. The Isle of Wight is now the only place left in Britain to see the Glanville fritillary.