Animal Kingdom in Croatia

Animal Kingdom in Croatia

Croatia’s unique position at the meeting point of Europe, Asia and Africa, as well as its favourable climate and hydrological features, have resulted in extraordinary biodiversity and geodiversity and beautiful landscapes. Few countries, apart from Croatia, can lay claim to such riches on such a small area. For decades, biologists have carried out research into the nature of the region, estimating its value. So far, they have discovered and recorded over 40,000 animal species and subspecies, everything from tiny organisms barely visible to the naked eye to the biggest and well-known animals such as wolves, bears, deer, etc.

 

Among the more notable species, invertebrates (e.g. insects, spiders, crustaceans) make up a significantly larger portion than vertebrates (e.g. saltwater fish, freshwater fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals). We are especially proud of the fact that a large number of the species discovered so far can only be found in Croatia, i.e. they are endemic to the area and well-known across the globe.

Segio Gobbo

Because the animal populations are isolated, and their habitats fairly specific, most of these endemic species can be found in caves, on islands and/or in karst rivers draining into the Adriatic basin.

Since Croatia belongs to the very complex mountain range called the Dinaric Alps, a significant part of its area is covered by karst and cave formations, which is why cave fauna represents one of the biggest and most fascinating specificities of nature in Croatia.

 

Hardworking biospeleologists frequently discover new species in their research, many of which are endemic and relict species. This places Croatia at the top of the list in terms of diversity of its underground fauna, both at the European and global levels.

 

The invertebrate species of Croatia have more representatives, but are also less researched and less known when compared to vertebrates. Molluscs in Croatia include a large number of land and sea snails. All kinds of habitats contain insects such as grasshoppers, cockroaches, flies, beetles, bark beetles, butterflies, spiders and centipedes. The most interesting among these are certainly butterflies and moths that add a special charm to every meadow with their colourful wings.

 

Mammals, the most well-known animal group that includes us humans as well, cover nearly 100 known species, most of which are indigenous or native, meaning they have inhabited this territory naturally for a very long time.

Nenad Rebršak

Mammal diversity thus puts Croatia at the very top of European countries. Croatia also boasts four very valuable European carnivorans (bear, wolf, lynx, otter).

These well-known and intriguing animals are mostly found in the mountainous areas of the Dinaric Alps. Numerous bat species also inhabit the Croatian underground and caves, hidden from view.

There is only one mammal species permanently inhabiting the blue Adriatic Sea, the common bottlenose dolphin, but other cetaceans are commonly recorded as well.

The first thing we notice when we take a walk in nature are birds, which we associate with the joy and beauty of nature and life in general. Even though we are, unfortunately, witnessing a decline in the number of birds, the abundance of birds in Croatia – or ornithofauna – is still impressive.

Domagoj Blažević

Did you know that there are around 400 known bird species in Croatia, drawing bird watchers from all over the world?

Croatia is home to some of the rarest bird species, such as the griffon vulture, short-toed snake eagle, golden eagle, hawk, grey heron, spoonbills, and long-eared owl. Many shorebirds and migratory birds on their way to Africa stop for a holiday in Croatia, much like tourists. We invite you to visit one of the many interesting bird-watching spots and experience the joyful world of birds first hand.

 

Croatia has long recognised the need to protect shorebirds, which is why visiting the highly valuable and protected swamplands offers a unique opportunity to see the birds in their natural habitat. 

Domagoj Blažević

The absolute record-holder in that regard is the Kopački Rit Nature Park, which provides “room and board” to around 285 bird species that nest there.

Many of you will have heard the unusual and lovely story about the village of Čigoč and the adventures and misadventures of its famous inhabitants, white storks.

Bojan Haron Markičević

This European Stork Village in the Lonjsko Polje Nature Park has more white storks than people living in it.

Although relatively closed off, and less diverse than some warmer seas that have coral reefs, the beautiful, blue Adriatic Sea is characterised by a unique underwater fauna.

Miro Andrić

The clear, clean and warm waters are home to several thousand invertebrates, such as cnidarians, cephalopods, sponges, corals, etc., several hundred species of fish, and even some larger members of the cetacean group that temporarily or permanently inhabit the sea.

The great diversity of animal species on such a small area as Croatia reflects the value of its natural heritage as well as the effort that goes into preserving it. By visiting the protected areas that are considered “hot spots” of endemic, rare and endangered species, you are guaranteed to have a memorable experience of an incredibly diverse animal world.