Over the last decade, Croatia has risen to fame thanks to its gorgeous pebbled beaches, historic ruins, and enchanting medieval towns. While most people flock to the country to island hop or to seek out filming locations from Game of Thrones, what they don’t know is that beneath the picturesque scenery lies a world of fascinating wildlife.
The country may be small, but a staggering amount of over 40,000 species and subspecies of animals have been recorded living within Croatia’s borders. This Mediterranean nation is home to everything from brown bears and otters to snakes and even scorpions.
Many of the animals in Croatia are under legal protection given their rarity, and the country is home to a number of nature preserves designed to safeguard them from extinction.
In this post, we’re going to dive into the country’s fascinating fauna, highlighting the wild animals you’ll encounter in Croatia’s diverse landscapes, waters, and skies. So, without further ado, here are 10 animals in Croatia to keep an eye out for.
10 Animals In Croatia To Look Out For
1. European Pine Marten (Kuna)
Starting off our list is none other than Croatia’s national animal—the European Pine Marten. This creature isn’t just significant for its status as a wildlife symbol; it also holds an important place in Croatian history.
Long ago, the pelts of the pine marten were so valuable that they were used as a form of currency. People exchanged these plush furs for various goods and services. This practice was so ingrained in the local culture that it led to the naming of Croatia’s original currency: the “kuna.”
2. Brown Bears (Smeđi medvjed)
Roaming the dense forests of Gorski Kotar, the brown bear is an emblem of Croatia’s lush natural landscapes. Roughly 1,000 bears have made their home in Croatia today, and they tend to stay close to their natural habitats. These massive animals, clocking in at 350 kg, are a protected species. In addition to their size, they have razor-sharp claws that make them look extra fierce!
But don’t let their intimidating appearance fool you–seeing a wild brown bear in Croatia is pretty rare. If you do want to get up close and personal to these shaggy animals, you can visit the Kuterevo Bear Sanctuary located in a small village in the Velebit Mountains.
3. Bottlenose dolphins (Dupin)
While you may not come across many sharks in Croatian waters, you might catch some dolphins if you’re lucky! Although it is possible to see dolphins all over Croatia, the best areas to spot them are the waters around the islands of Losinj and Cres, where a community of over one hundred bottlenose dolphins live.
Just like the brown bear and European pine marten, bottlenose dolphins are a protected species in Croatia. It might be tempting to jump in for a swim with Croatia’s dolphins, if you’re lucky enough to spot them on a boat trip, that is. However, it’s best to admire them from a distance.
4. Eurasian Otter (Vidra)
The Eurasian otter, also known as the European river otter, is a semi-aquatic mammal native to Eurasia and north-west Africa. This cute little creature can often be spotted darting around Croatia’s picturesque waterways. You’ll have a good chance of spotting them in Kopacki Rit Nature Park, one of the largest natural wetlands in Europe.
Be warned though that Eurasian otters are very territorial animals! So if you stumble upon one, it’s best to keep a safe distance to stay on their good side.
5. Gray Wolf (Sivi vuk)
Roaming the rugged terrains of the Dinaric Alps and the dense forests of Gorski Kotar, the gray wolf holds a special place in Croatia’s wildlife. With only about 200 of them living in the wild, these majestic creatures have been strictly protected since 1995.
Although the gray wolf is considered to be a top predator, they typically shy away from contact with humans. If they detect your presence, chances are they’ll quickly disappear back into the wilderness from which they came. So if you ever happen to spot one while hiking, consider it an extra special encounter with one of Croatia’s most beautiful animals.
6. Griffon Vulture (Bjeloglavi sup)
One of the most extraordinary birds in Croatia is the griffon vulture, known for its impressive wingspan that can reach up to 290 cm. These are among the biggest flying birds you’ll spot gliding through the country’s skies, barely flapping their wings. It’s truly amazing to see them in their element!
Griffon vultures primarily live on the island of Cres, just off of Dalmatia’s northern coast. Large parts of this island remain rugged and untamed, which creates the perfect habitat for vultures to retreat to.
7. Snakes (Zmije)
Croatia is home to a variety of snake species, with 15 distinct types documented within its borders. Most of the snakes that slither across the country’s landscapes are harmless, but there are three varieties that carry venom.
Topping the list of venomous snakes, and one of the most dangerous animals in Croatia, is the nose-horned viper, or “poskok” in Croatian. Poskoks can usually be found in the karst topography of Dalmatia. This particular snake is notable for its large size and fangs that contain highly toxic venom.
8. Wild Boar (Divlja svinja)
Wild boar, also called wild pigs, can be found all over Croatia. These animals typically live in packs and have an incredible knack for thriving in all types of environments. For this reason, it is becoming more and more common to see them in cities and suburbs, including the outskirts of Zagreb!
These hairy visitors are not always welcome and have a bad reputation for being destructive. They’ve been known to wreck yards, landscaping and even farmlands as they forage for food. And although they are normally unaggressive, there have even been reports of them attacking domestic dogs in Croatia.
9. Red Fox (Lisica)
The red fox is a beautiful, cat-like creature with a rust-colored fur coat, fluffy tail, and pointy ears. It is a native species to Croatia and is traditionally found in woodland areas. Intelligent and resourceful, the red fox is most active at night. They can sometimes be seen late in the evening crossing the street or hopping over fences in urban and suburban areas of Croatia!
10. Lynx (Ris)
The lynx is a medium-sized feline that is native to Central, Northern, and Eastern Europe, as well as Central Asia and Siberia. It has a distinguishing ruff of fur around its face as well as tufted ears, and is particularly majestic. These regal felines primarily inhabit the wooded terrains around Gorski Kotar, and their territory extends down to the regions of Lika and Velebit.
What makes the lynx so special is that they are extremely rare! There are only six of them in the entire country. If you’re lucky enough, you might be able to spot one while hiking through Plitvice Lakes National Park.
Final Thoughts On Animals In Croatia To Keep An Eye Out For
There you have it! Croatia isn’t just about beautiful beaches and historical sites–it’s home to a collection of wild and fascinating animals that roam its diverse landscapes. Whether you’re sailing the Adriatic Sea or hiking through Plitvice Lakes National Park, be sure to stay on the lookout for these 10 amazing animals in Croatia!
Author information: Olivia Loren