Come to see which mammals like getting their whiskers wet. Our mammals at the Back from the Brink area include harvest mice, water voles, shrews, otters and a beaver. Try to spot our beaver if he comes out for a swim, see the otters being fed or try to spot a tiny harvest mouse or a shrew.
The award for Slimbridge’s most playful family has to go to our otters. It is a tough life for our family of three who spend their days frolicking around in the water, sunbathing and sleeping in their den!
Mother Flo, and twins Minnie and Ha Ha arrived at our centre in summer 2009 as part of our wetland mammal area Back from the Brink.
The North American river otters are very active so you are bound to see them during your visit.
To see them at their best go to one of the commentated feeding sessions held daily.
At the end of your visit peek into their sleeping area to see them snuggle up together.
The bank dweller popularised by Ratty from Wind in the Willow was once a common sight around Britain. A few years ago conservationists recognised that numbers had dipped alarmingly low and here at Slimbridge there were only two breeding pairs.
For the last few years work to improve habitats to offer more protection and feeding opportunity appears to have paid off. Numbers in the UK have made a good recovery and here at Slimbridge they are suddenly a common sight once again. They tend to come out on sunny days and feed by the sides of water. Popular spots include the canoe safari or outside the front of the visitor centre.
A harvest mouse weighs the same as a ten pence piece and its babies are the size of a baked bean. This makes them hard to spot at first but keep looking and you'll see one of these tiny rodents. Harvest mice can grip with their tails allowing them to strike some very acrobatic poses.
Our bird collection
The first stop for anyone visiting Slimbridge Wetland Centre is the grain desk. Make sure you stock up with one of our bags of wheat grain before you head out into the grounds as you are sure to want to feed the ducks, geese and swans you will meet on your way round.
Hand feeding birds is often one of our earliest memories. It allows children to observe and interact with many different species up close so they form an early bond and respect for nature.
Adults also enjoy feeding our colourful species including the appealing nene which is the most endangered type of goose in the world.
Many of our ducks and geese will feed straight from your hand. Even the swans are willing if you are brave enough!
The best areas to head for are the feeding area at Swan Lake immediately outside the visitor centre and the geese of the world area on the loopway (next to puddleduck corner).
Did you know we are the only place in the world you can see all six species of flamingo?
The most brightly coloured ones are our Caribbean flamingos which provide a beautiful view for diners in our restaurant. We also have Lesser flamingos, greater flamingos, Chilean flamingos, Andean flamingos and one James' flamingo. Each year we are lucky enough to breed some flamingos. These short grey straight beaked chicks look very different to their parents. It is only a couple of years later that they develop the characteristic pink feathers.
Nenes (Hawaiian geese)
A trip to Slimbridge is only complete once you have fed the rarest goose in the world. This small goose is extremely tame and tends to appear at your feet if you have a bag of grain in your hand. The nenes are gentle feeders which make them excellent for children to feed by hand. Notice how the feathers on the neck are twisted creating an unusual pattern.
Saving this species of goose was the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust's first major project. Numbers in the wild have grown and there are healthy flocks in private collections but it still needs ongoing active conservation work to ensure numbers stay strong.
The tallest bird in our collection is the impressive common crane. At almost four foot and with a seven foot wingspan the cranes certainly stand out. Cranes are sociable but are also very territorial leading to many stand-offs and bickering. Listen out for their loud call and watch for one of their energetic dancing displays including bowing, arching, stick tossing and jumping.
Whoa whoa is the flirtatious call of the Eider duck. These sea ducks are brilliant swimmers and have a special nail at the end of their beaks to help them open up shellfish in the wild. Many a visitor tries to master the distinctive call of the Eider but few succeed!