AT least one in five species of British mammals is at high risk of extinction due to threats such as disease and loss of their natural habitat, a study has found.

Red squirrels, wildcats and grey long-eared bats are among the species which face severe threats to their survival, the first major review of British mammals for more than 20 years revealed. The study of 58 species showed populations of nine, including hedgehogs, water voles, hazel dormice and even rabbits, have declined.

Fiona Mathews, chairwoman of the Mammal Society, which led the study, and professor of environmental biology at the University of Sussex, said the UK is on a “little bit of a precipice”.

She added: “We have a few winners but if you look beyond the deer and the carnivores, it’s difficult to see many native species that look like they’re are doing well.”