Animals at Home

Humber Museums Partnership - Animals at Home

About Animals at Home

The Animals at Home exhibition explores three iconic North Lincolnshire habitats – ancient woodland, coversands heathland and the Humber wetlands. Each habitat is rich in wonderful wildlife. But like habitats and wildlife throughout the world, all are threatened by human action and habitat loss.


The facts are stark, human action is leading to the destruction of habitats, climate change and the loss of wildlife. The future for creatures and habitats throughout the world looks bleak. However, it’s not too late to stop the loss. We can still make changes that will allow nature to thrive. In the exhibition find out how you can help wildlife in your garden and where to go to see animals at home.

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  • Bearded tit - Pete Short

    Bearded Tit image
  • Black Darter - Christophe Brochard

    Black Darter - Christophe Brochard
  • Woodpigeon - Graham Catley

    Woodpigeon image

Into the Wildwood

Ancient woodland in England is defined as an area that has been continuously wooded since at least AD 1600. Over hundreds of years a rich and unique habitat forms, which provides a home for a wide range of species.
Most woodland has been managed in some way in the past and evidence of this management can still be seen. Some of the trees found in ancient woodland today are believed to have been regularly coppiced for more than 1000 years. Coppicing is the practice of pruning certain trees down to just above ground level and allowing them to resprout from the stumps. Ancient woodland is one of the most threatened habitats in the UK. Almost half has been lost since the 1930s and today only 2% of the country is classed as ancient woodland.

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  • Dormouse - Alison Looser

    Dormouse image
  • Treecreeper - Graham Catley

    Treecreeper image

Humber Wetlands

The Humber Estuary drains a catchment area covering approximately 20% of England’s land surface. It is of international importance for the number of birds that gather there.
A wide range of habitats can be found in the estuary, including reedbeds, saltmarsh, mudflats, sandflats and sand dunes. The main threats to the estuary are through development and what is known as ‘coastal squeeze’. Coastal habitats, particularly saltmarsh, have the ability to retreat landwards when water levels rise. Flood defences prevent this happening and lead to habitat loss over time. Creating new flood defences further inland, and deliberately breaching the old defences, serves to create valuable new habitat and helps prevent flooding further along the coast. Alkborough Flats was created as part of one these schemes.

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  • Bearded tit - Pete Short

    Bearded Tit image
  • Small Red Eyed Damselfly - Christophe Brochard

    Damselfly image
  • Pink-footed Geese - Graham Catley

    Geese image

Coversands Heaths

Heathland is the result of centuries of use as common land. Over time, human activities deplete the soil of nutrients and create a range of habitats, including grassland, bogs, open heath and woodland. In North Lincolnshire, heath can mainly be found on the coversands, wind-blown sand deposits laid down as the glaciers retreated. Around 80% of lowland heath has been lost in the last 200 years. This is due to a combination of destruction and changes in land use. There are still a few protected sites around Scunthorpe, including Atkinson’s Warren, Conesby Quarry and Risby Warren, which provide valuable refuges for wildlife. These sites must be regularly managed to maintain the heathland habitat.

The World in Our Hands

The natural world is under threat today as never before. Human activity is putting increasing pressure on the planet and threatens to drive many species to extinction. Major issues that have become more widely publicised in recent years include climate change and plastic pollution. Rising global temperatures are putting many species at risk of extinction, while plastic is now found almost everywhere on the planet and in the digestive systems of most species, including humans. Other significant threats to wildlife include the degradation and loss of their habitats and the introduction of alien species into vulnerable ecosystems. We still have the power to prevent the worst from happening, but it requires humanity to make immediate and substantial changes. Even the small choices we make daily can reduce our impact on the planet if we make the effort.

Nature Friendly Gardening

Gardeners have the power to make a huge difference to wildlife. Even small gardens can contain a wide range of species. Here are five top tips to make your garden more attractive to wildlife: Allow gardens to be a bit untidy. Let grass grow longer and leave a few weeds. Piles of dead wood and leaves provide homes for all sorts of creatures. Use natural pest control. Ditch pesticides and chemicals and use companion plants to protect crops. Grow your own. This is better for the environment, cheaper and more enjoyable. Home-grown fruit and vegetables are often tastier and healthier than shop-bought. Fill flower beds with nectar-rich flowering plants to provide food and homes for insects. Create a pond. Even a large pot full of water can attract insects and amphibians.

Local Nature Reserves

There are many local nature reserves and wildlife sites which are worth a visit. Some are of national significance, such as Blacktoft Sands or the famous seal sanctuary at Donna Nook. Even smaller and less assuming sites can be valuable for wildlife and of interest to visitors. There are, for example, over fifty miles of roadside verges designated as nature reserves in Lincolnshire. These verges act as wildlife corridors and are home to around 700 species of plants. Volunteering on local sites can be very rewarding. Benefits include getting fit, meeting people and learning new skills. It also has the advantage of making a difference to the local area and helping preserve significant species and habitats.

Citizen Science

Members of the public can contribute to scientific projects by gathering information on a range of subjects. This is known as citizen science. There are many different types of project people can get involved in. These range in size from huge national campaigns to simply reporting casual sightings to a local records centre. Many organisations have produced apps the public can download. These apps help with identification and make it quicker and easier to submit information. The data obtained through these projects has proved to be extremely valuable in directing nature conservation and increasing our understanding of particular species.

Frozen Zoos

Museum natural history collections preserve specimens from all over the world. They are an invaluable resource. Some of the specimens are of historical importance. The Natural History Museum still holds the original specimens collected and studied by Charles Darwin when he was researching his theory of evolution. Museum collections are essential to taxonomy, the science of naming, describing and classifying organisms. Type specimens provide the foundation for the identification of a species. They serve as the reference point to which all other examples of the species are compared. Collections can be used for ongoing research and to direct the future of conservation.

Humber Museums Partnership