Animals

Native animals of Spain

The geographical location, the great diversity of climates, soils and landforms typical of Spain make this country one of the most biodiverse in Europe. In fact, of the approximately 92,000 species it harbors, almost 40,000 are flora and between 50,00000-60,000 fauna, which represents almost 60% of the plant species and just over 50% of the animal species present on the continent. European.

Among all this variety of living beings, focusing on the wild fauna of Spain, there are a large number of endemisms, referring to animals that inhabit only in Spain, as well as curious and rare animals. To make some of these species known, keep reading this Green Ecology article about native animals of Spain .

Foca monje (Monk Monk)

The monk seal, which is the only species of the genus Monachus present in Europe, owes its name to the resemblance between the shape of its head full of fat folds and the cap typical of monks. Currently, this fócid is distributed mainly by the Mediterranean and the Black Sea , although sightings have also been made and, therefore, there is evidence of its presence in the Atlantic, specifically in the area of ​​the Strait of Gibraltar. However, its presence has decreased in recent decades, being the indiscriminate capture of this species one of the great threats, which has led to a conservation status in critical danger of extinction., according to the IUCN and in danger of extinction as reflected in the National Catalog of Threatened Species (CNAE).

European mink (Mustela lutreola)

This small brown-colored mustelid with a white snout, which inhabits rivers and their banks, has been seriously threatened by the American mink ( Mustela vison ) , an invasive exotic species that was introduced at the beginning of the last century in Europe to favor the fur industry. In fact, their presence has been drastically reduced (more than 90%) and currently only 3 populations are known to exist in the world, located in: Russia, Romania and southern France and northern Spain (there are about 500 copies). However, this is not the only threat that has led to the classification of this species as critically endangered.according to the CNAE. Therefore, it should be noted that the continuous and progressive contamination of lotic systems has limited the resources on which these carnivorous mammals feed and, therefore, has reduced their distribution to high-quality aquatic systems.

Common Coot (Fulica atra)

The common coot is an aquatic bird , easy to distinguish by the black color of its fur and the white beak. It usually inhabits coastal wetlands , such as the Marjal d’Almenara (Castelló), l’Albufera de València or the Marjal dels Moros (València), among others. However, as humid areas are one of the ecosystems most affected by human activities and by the effects of climate change (pollution, disappearance of the marshy vegetation in which they nest), their abundance has been greatly reduced. This situation has also been aggravated by the hunting nature of the common coot ( Fulica atra ), which has led to its inclusion in Annex III of the Berne Convention, in Annex II of the Bonn Convention and in annexes II.1 and III.2 of the Birds Directive.

White-headed Malvasia (Oxyura leucocephala)

White-headed Malvasia is a diving duck , similar to the Malvasia duck ( Oxyura jamaicensis ) due to the rigidity of its tail, which is distinguished by its larger size, its brown plumage, blue bill and white head . This is one of the curious animals of Spain and it feeds on plants and small aquatic animals and, in addition, it usually lives in wetlands, lagoons and reservoirs of the Mediterranean.

Currently, their populations are highly threatened by the introduction of invasive alien species, such as cinnamon malvasia, carp or largemouth bass. In fact, in the 1970s it was on the brink of extinction. To avoid its complete disappearance, Oxyura leucocephala is included in the Red Book of birds in Spain as an endangered species , a category that coincides with that of the CNAE.

Lagartija carpetana (Iberolacerta cyreni)

The folder lizard is part of the endemic Iberian fauna of rocky areas in high mountain areas (the main populations are located in Gredos and Guadarrama), although it is also possible to find specimens in thickets of broom ( Cytisus oromediterraneus ) or creeping juniper ( Juniperus communis ). Morphologically, this reptile is characterized by its average body size, being larger in males than in females, as well as by the differences in the coloration of the dorsal area, being brownish in females and green in males.

It is one of the endemic animals of Spain that is in danger , according to the IUCN and protected by the Habitats Directive, by international conventions such as Berne and by national legislation, with the condition that it is a species of special interest (RD 439/90).

Fartet (Aphanius iberus)

Known as fartonet or peix de sequiol in the Valencian Community area , this species lives in brackish or sweet water bodies of the Mediterranean. This omnivorous continental fish of the Cyprinodontid family, of small size (about 5 cm), shows a marked sexual dimorphism in the body coloration of its specimens, the males being more showy than the females.

In recent decades, despite the role it plays in pest control (mainly mosquitoes), its populations have been significantly reduced as a result of the destruction of their habitats, water pollution and the introduction of invasive species . For this reason, the fartet is considered an endangered species in the CNAE and according to the Red Book of Spanish Vertebrates.

Samaruc (Valencia hispanica)

The samaruc is a fish belonging to the Valenciidae family , with a yellowish-brown color and small size (it reaches a maximum of 8 cm), which exhibits gregarious behaviors and lives associated with brackish water bodies with abundant aquatic vegetation, such as coastal wetlands. Currently its distribution is limited to the coastal areas of Valencia and Catalonia due to multiple threats such as: the introduction of invasive alien species (shrimp, black-bass, American crab …), the drying up of wetlands, the destruction of habitat ( by industrial, urban-tourist or agricultural use) and water pollution. Consequently, this species is in danger of extinction, according to the national catalog.

Bigeye buzzard bat (Myotis capaccinii)

Myotis capaccinii is a gregarious chiropter of medium size, gray color and light belly, which can be confused with the naked eye with another species of bat , the river buzzard ( Myotis daubentonii ), from which it is more easily differentiated by the absence of hairs that it shows the latter in the tibia.

This strict troglophilous mammal, which is one of the urban animals of Spain , lives in areas close to bodies of water (rivers, canals or ponds) to hunt (terrestrial arthropods, chironomids and even small fish) and is geographically distributed from the Iberian Peninsula , where it is possible to find them to the east, in the Balearic Islands and in Ceuta, up to the Black Sea . However, currently their populations are in regression due, above all, to the alteration of their habitats and hunting areas, for which in some Autonomous Communities measures for their conservation have been developed and implemented (eg: refuges proposed as LICs or ZECs in Murcia, Andalusia or the Valencian Community).

European hornet (Vespa crabro)

This indigenous hymenopteran that lives in mountainous areas, belongs to the Vespidae family and is considered the largest eusocial wasp in all of Europe . It is characterized by its large size, being the adult specimens larger than those of the genus Vespula and Polistes, differing from the latter by its black coloration, with garnet-red areas and yellow bands in the abdominal segments.

Within the same genus Vespa, sometimes the European hornet is confused with the Asian wasp ( Vespa velutina ), but nothing is further from the truth, both species are totally different and we can easily differentiate them by the color of their legs, which is not yellow. in the case of Vespa crabro . This and the misconception that the hornet is a dangerous species is leading their populations to decline even though their conservation status has not yet been assessed.

Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus)

The Iberian lynx is a large, robust-looking feline characterized by stiff black hairs on the ears and sideburns of hair that hang from its cheeks. With a geographical distribution restricted to the forested areas of Spain (Central System, Montes de Tolero, Sierra de San Pedro and Sierra Morena) and Portugal, their populations have been strongly depleted by the scarcity of rabbits, which are their main source of food. , as well as by the degradation, destruction and fragmentation of their habitat and accidental run over. In this sense, although thanks to the conservation programs, little by little it seems that they are recovering, there is still a lot of work to be done because this is one of the animals of Spainwhose conservation status is Critically Endangered .

We encourage you to learn more about their situation by reading this other post about Why the Iberian lynx is in danger of extinction .

Animals in danger of extinction in Spain

We finish this list of autochthonous animals of Spain , citing more species that we can find in this country and that, in addition and sadly, are currently in a state of vulnerability, in danger of extinction or in critical danger of extinction.

  • Iberian wolf.
  • European brown bear.
  • Black tortoise.
  • Mediterranean tortoise.
  • Black stork.
  • Osprey.
  • Giant lizard from El Hierro.
  • Iberian imperial eagle.

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