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The Wilder Side of Croatia! Exploring the Vast Wildlife in Croatia

wildlife in Croatia - dolphins swimming in the ocean
14 Aug

The Wilder Side of Croatia! Exploring the Vast Wildlife in Croatia

Croatia is home to a variety of different landscapes, from warm, coastal regions to thick forest biomes which act as the perfect habitat for a wide array of unique and fascinating animal species. Due to the biodiversity of this country, the wildlife in Croatia is as diverse and fascinating as the landscapes that make up this enchanting nation.

So, if you consider yourself a bit of a nature enthusiast and want to uncover the wonders of Croatian wildlife, this guide offers insights into the country’s rich biodiversity and some of the best places for spotting Croatia’s wildlife in person.

Croatia wildlife

You can expect to see diverse wildlife in Croatia all across the country. Croatia’s array of biomes include coastal areas, mountains, forests, wetlands, and islands that support a wide variety of wildlife species. While some of the wildlife in Croatia may be similar to that seen in the rest of Europe, there are certain species that are fairly unique to the country and the Mediterranean region. 

Some of the incredible types of wildlife in Croatia include:

Red Deer

The red deer is one of the largest species of deer in Europe. This type of deer is known for its distinctive coat which appears as a reddish-brown in summer, turning to a more grayish-brown in winter, helping them blend into their surroundings. Male red deer are easy to pick out from herds of these beautiful creatures as they possess impressive antlers.

Red deer are typically found in areas with large forests, mixed woodlands and meadows. In Croatia, groups of red deer can be found in the Dinaric Alps, Gorski Kotar, Lika, and other mountainous areas.

wildlife in Croatia - red deer


Chamois is a goat-antelope species that is well adapted to rugged, alpine environments and often found in high altitude mountainous regions. They are fairly small in size with distinctive backwards-curving horns that grow continuously throughout their lives. In Croatia, you can find chamois in mountainous regions such as the Velebit and Biokovo mountain ranges.

wildlife in Croatia - chamois

Brown Bears

Many of us Americans may be familiar with the brown bear, however, this majestic mammal is not as common to see in most parts of Europe. It tends to inhabit the thick, wild forests that consume a large portion of the country’s land. You can find the brown bear in places such as Gorski Kotar and the Velebit Mountains. 

Encounters with brown bears are rare due to their elusive nature, however it is always best to stay safe and cautious of your surroundings, especially when hiking in the thick woodland areas of Croatia. 

wildlife in Croatia - brown bear

Eurasian Otter

The Eurasian otter is one of the only species of otter found in most of Europe, and Croatia is lucky enough to be one of the places where these playful little creatures reside. These animals are known to be skilled swimmers and feed on fish, amphibians, and crustaceans.

Having adapted to both aquatic and terrestrial lifestyles, the European otter is well-suited for the diverse aquatic environments found in Croatia. You will find this cute creature often in forest areas with vast rivers, lakes, and wetlands.

wildlife in Croatia - Eurasian Otter

Gray Wolf 

Another animal that is quite exclusive as part of the wildlife in Croatia is the gray wolf. While considered to be one of the top predators in Croatia’s wilderness, they are very elusive and rarely seen by humans in the area.

Gray wolves inhabit remote and forested areas not inhabited by humans. You may find populations of the gray wolf in the Croatian regions of Lika and Gorski Kotar.

wildlife in Croatia - gray wolf

Eurasian Lynx 

Adding another rarely seen European animal to Croatia’s long list of unique wildlife is the Eurasian lynx. They are medium-sized wild cats with a characteristic ruff of fur around their face and tufted ears.

Lynxes in Croatia are often solitary and elusive and prefer to reside in dense forests and more remote regions. They are a critically endangered species and are protected by many conservation efforts, especially in Croatia. Hence, if you spot one of these lynxes in the wild, you can consider yourself very lucky.

wildlife in Croatia - Eurasian Lynx 

Amphibians and Reptiles

Croatia’s Mediterranean climate is warm and dry enough during the summer season to boast the perfect environment for a variety of amphibians and reptiles. 

Some of the most notable are the European pond turtle, Hermann’s tortoise, fire salamander, and the European green lizard. To find out more about the different amphibians and reptiles in Croatia, talk to our travel experts

Bird Species in Croatia

Not only is there a great variety in Croatia’s land animals, but it also has a rich diversity of avian residents too. For those looking to partake in some bird watching in Croatia, there are plenty of species you can keep an eye out for. Some notable bird species in Croatia include:

  • The Golden Eagle – This memorizing creature can be found soaring overhead in mountainous regions.
  • White-Throated Dipper – This small bird is known for its distinctive bobbing motion. It can often be spotted near fast-flowing rivers and streams.
  • European Bee-Eater – With its vibrant plumage, this migratory bird adds a splash of color to Croatia’s landscapes.
  • Griffon Vulture – You can spot these impressive scavengers in areas like the Kvarner Gulf and Velebit Mountains.

Water-based Wildlife in Croatia

The Adriatic Sea found along Croatia’s coastline is home to a diverse array of marine life, including various fish species, seals, dolphins, loggerhead sea turtles, and even seahorses. 

The marine ecosystem is a significant part of Croatia’s natural heritage. There are plenty of opportunities to come up close with these magnificent creatures through boating excursions, snorkeling adventures and guided tours.

The best way to come across these fantastic marine species is by snorkeling or diving. If this sounds appealing to you, make sure to add one of these water-based activities to a tour around Croatia.

wildlife in Croatia - dolphins

Exotic Animals in Croatia

For something a little different, visit the Brijuni Islands situated in the northern part of Croatia just off the western coast of the Istrian peninsula. The Brijuni Islands have a rich history dating back to Roman times and while you can explore many historic sites here, there are plenty of other things to do in this fascinating location like water sports, hiking and taking a trip its incredible national park.

Here you will find something a little unique – a rare Asian elephant that is also the oldest of its kind. Lanka the elephant arrived on the island in 1974, at age two as a gift from the Indian prime minister to the old leader Josip Broz Tito of Yugoslavia. While she might be the last of her kind on the island, you can also see a range of other exotic animals here such as sea turtles, llamas, peacocks, steppe and mountain zebra which were received as a gift from Sékou Touré, former president of the Republic of Guinea. To visit Brijuni Islands National Park, speak to our travel experts to add this to a custom itinerary on your next vacation to Croatia.

Wildlife tours around Croatia

Croatia’s commitment to conservation efforts and the establishment of its protected national parks has ensured that much of the unique wildlife that resides here can continue to thrive and populate its areas. To explore some of the protected areas of Croatia’s national parks and witness some of these magnificent creatures in real life, speak to our travel experts

Offering custom tours to Croatia, we can create personalized travel itineraries that are tailored towards your travel preferences. Get in touch with the team to start planning your next adventure to Croatia today!

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