Unless you are planning on going to the French Guiana, wildlife isn´t the first things that comes to your mind when thinking about France, right? You would probably think about the Eiffel Tower, the French sweets and pastries, and maybe if you are looking for nature, then the lavender fields would sure go first. Not many people know they can see animals in France, but this is totally wrong… We are going to tell you everything about the French wildlife as well as a list of native and wild animals that live in France:
See below our list with the top 10 French animals divided in different types:
Extinct animals in France
Unfortunately, we must start first with the bad news, so we can all learn from the mistakes we did in the past and not repeat them again. Throughout the history, lots of animals became extinct, all of them for different reasons, some due to natural causes and others because of humans’ fault. Today we are going to tell you about one of the most recent extinctions in France:
1)🌊 Mediterranean Monk Seal
Mediterranean Monk Seals were typical seen in many French and Corsican beaches in the past, but since 1970´s these animals have not been spotted in the coast of France, so we are afraid, that even though, they are listed as critically endangered, they could be extinct in this part of the Mediterranean Sea.
Luckily, the international panorama isn´t as a bad and you will still be able to find Monk Seals in the Greek and Turkish coast, Madeira Island and Cabo Blanco, in Mauritania, where the largest colony is located.
Monk Seals have been suffering for centuries, but an increase of its population in the last years could mean a good change for this beautiful ocean creatures.
Endangered animals in France
As more and more European people are starting to care about Nature, it would be easy to think that the wildlife of these countries have suffered enough, and their future is brighte, but let us tell you something, France is in 5th position as the country with more endangered species in the world! Many of them are in the French overseas territories, but the European side isn´t doing too well neither, as 215 threatened species have been identified. It seems like the situation still isn´t under control.
2)🦡 European Mink
The European Mink is probably the most endangered specie of not just France, but the whole European continent. These small mammals used to be found all over Europe about a century ago, especially in Russia (that´s where the name of Russian Mink comes from), but unfortunately, due to the habitat loss, hunting, pollution and most important, the introduction of the American Mink back in 1926 for fur farming, spotting one nowadays would be almost impossible. France and Spain might be the only options.
The main habitats of this amazing animal are rivers in the middle of the forest. Their great swimming skills allows them to hunt all kind of fish, frogs, and crustaceans.
3)🐋 North Atlantic Right Whale
Another of the most endangered animals found in France is the North Atlantic Right Whale. This animals have been suffering for many decades and the main reasons are climate change which alters the temperatures of the sea, entanglement in fishing gear and the increase of the ocean noise due to human activities, which makes their communication harder.
The future isn´t too bright for this magnific ocean animal, as in despite of all the actions that are being taken, their situation is getting worst each year. The last research done (in 2018), said there are about 400 North Atlantic Right Whales in the world, but the worst of all, is that there are just 100 breeding females left and only 22 births have been observed since 2017.
4)🐻 Brown Bear
Brown bears are another of the most endangered species of France. Although things are getting better in the last years, Brown bears´ life have never been easy in this country.
In the past, they were trained and used to entertain, later humans started to destroy their habitats with the construction of mines and meanwhile hunting was also happening. All these caused the extinction of the brown bear in France.
They were reintroduced later in 2006 and thankfully the population is finally growing (slowly but growing). Of course, this doesn´t mean they will be able to leave peacefully, as there are still many people against bears in the country.
As we said before, there are many endangered animals that live in France, but telling you about all of them would take forever, so here is the last endangered French animal of our list, the Mouflon.
Before we tell you anything about this ancient sheep, we want you to look for “Mouflon in France” in Google, you will see that most of the articles talk about hunting them… That´s when you realize how messed up is their situation. In despite of being listed as endangered, hunting them is totally legal and furthermore, it is being promoted.
On another note, there is a very cool fact about their horns, which is that they grow a new ring each year, that´s why they are so big.
Native Animals that live in France
As the European countries are all so close to each other, most of the species are spread out through different countries so you won´t find many animals that are endemic to just one specific country. That said, the situation in France is a little bit different due to the impressive biodiversity of the island of Corsica.
6)🐦 Corsican Nuthatch
Out of all the species only found in France, the most famous one is this cute little bird. As its name says, the Corsican Nuthatch is endemic to Corsica and the island is the only place in the world you will be able to find it.
Unfortunately, these birds are also in the red list of endangered species, they are categorized as vulnerable. The main reason is of course their small distribution.
They live in altitudes from 800 to 1600m (2,600 to 5,200 ft), where the Corsican pines can be found. These types of pines are the place where they can build their nests.
Common and typical animals in France
Now that you have hear about the rare animals in France and the ones that are hard to find, it is time to talk about the ones you will have more chances of spotting in the wild. These are some of the most common animals in France:
7)🐿️ Alpine Marmot
We must admit that finding an Alpine Marmot while hiking through the mountains is a pretty cool experience. Every time these small animals feel like they are in danger ( when one of their predators or humans are around), they start to call each other, so if you suddenly hear a whistle, you know who is around.
A very interesting fact about Marmots, is that they disappeared from different parts of France many years ago, but they are so important to the ecosystem and for tourism, that various Natural and Regional Parks decided to reintroduce them and now their population is flourishing.
Fox is also one of those animals you can find all over the country. Spotting one isn´t as easy as the marmot, they are pretty scare of humans, plus they are also super-fast, so even though there are foxes in almost every French national park, don´t expect them to be waiting for you.
Some interesting facts about Foxes are that unlike wolves, they usually like to hunt by themselves and that they eat almost all kind of food, fruits, eggs, birds, rabbits… that´s why many times you see them grabbing some food by the trash.
Popular and famous animals in France
France is also home to two of the most famous animals in Europe. We are talking about some of the biggest mammals in the European country. Animals that were not a long time ago in real danger, but now a days their situation is much better (still a long way to go) thanks to the recovery projects of their habitats and their protection.
9)🐆 Eurasian lynx
As it happened with bears, Lynx were also hunted to extinction in France, luckily in the 70s the Lynx were reintroduced in Switzerland and somehow a few of them ended up moving to France. Since then the Lynx have been living in France and luckily their situation is much better now and they aren´t even listed as endangered.
That said, don´t you think it is easy to find one of them. There aren´t so many, plus they are also very good at hiding, so you would have to be very patient to find one.
The best place to find them are all near the French-swiss border, Jura National park, Vosges National Park, and the Northern Alps.
10)🐺 Eurasian Wolf
The Eurasian Wolf is another animal that in 1930s was hunted to extinction in France. Thankfully, in 1992 a pack of wolves made it through the Italian mountains back to France. Since then, the specie has been recovering, and today France is estimated to have around 300 wolves. The reason to its extinction was the same as the bears, sheep farmers see them as an enemy, because occasionally, a sheep is found killed by a wolf. Every time this happens, the sheep farmer gets a compensation for their lost.
Wolves aren´t easy to find neither, but have in mind that if you do spot one, there are many chances that you will find a few more, they usually go in groups of 6 to 12.
What´s the national animal of France
Since the early 1800´s the Gallic Rooster has been the national animal of France. There are many theories about why this is, but the most heard one says, it is because it symbolizes the vigilance, as Gallic Rosters are known for being the first ones to wake up, right before sunrise time.
This animal has been used in stamps and even in French coins. Furthermore, today you will also find it in the official emblem of the French national sports teams. The Gallic Roster is probably the most famous icon and symbol of the country.
Wildlife protection in France
As you may have seen, there are still many wild animals that live in France and they have a vital role in their ecosystems and in humans life, therefore, if you decide to go to any natural park or even in the cities, and you have the luck of spotting any animal, please leave them alone and be respectful with their habitats.
Hope you have enjoyed the wildlife of France