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Humming Birds Wildlife Butterfly

The first thing to say is that there are no more dangerous animals in our part of France than you could find in England. Having said that, there are many different animals, and as we are in a country area, you can expect to see quite a few! Starting round the house, we have a number of bats who use the house (the outside of the house) for nesting. We are not experts, but we think they are pipistrelles, which are common all over Europe, including England.

Lizards can always be seen during summer, or on any sunny day, climbing up walls, on the terraces, looking for insects to eat. They are very small, quite beautiful, and are difficult to get close to - they have great eyesight and/or hearing and will always keep out of your way.

We have a Fire Salamander who lives near the house, and who can be seen after rain, at night. He (or she) is harmless, and is brightly coloured presumably to advertise to potential predators that he is not very tasty. There are of course, many types of insect, such as the swallowtail butterfly - most of them similar to those in the UK, although you may very well see a Praying Mantis.

We get a few mice from time to time - and Oscar despatches them quite nicely.

We have seen a few harmless snakes (Ladder snakes) on the terrace, presumably looking for mice, etc, which they eat and for which they are welcomed. The only poisonous snake is the viper, which is like the adder that lives in England. It is shy and avoids people.

There are all kinds of "normal" wildlife, including red squirrels, rabbits, Rabbit hares, pheasant, partridges, all of which we have seen round the house.

Most common birds you see in England are here also, including robins, tits, blackbirds, goldfinches , hawfinches, nuthatches, goldcrests, tree creepers etc. However, we see a lot more jays and buzzards, and hear a lot more cuckoos than we did in England. Of birds that don't occur in England, you can expect to see Flamingoes, Golden Orioles and Hoopoes, in summer, and Crested Tits , Sardinian Warblers and Ravens all year round, while a Black Redstart was in residence last winter (2002/3). From time to time we see eagles - in 2002 we were pretty certain that we saw a Short Toed Eagle hunting for snakes.

The most unusual (to the English) local animal is the "sanglier" - the wild boar. These are very, very common - we get them all the time in the grounds - and very destructive. They are not dangerous to people, as they are vegetarian - they are after all just pigs. However, they cause tremendous damage to plants, trees, flowers, since they use their snouts to dig up roots, and they break down small fruit trees to get at food. If you want to see, or more likely hear them while here, you will. They are active at nighttime or dusk, and can often be seen in family groups with their young. For more information see web page www.gourmetfly.com/Huntco.htm