Flora and fauna of Italy

Flora of Italy

Due to the long period of settlement in the Italian peninsula and the strong Roman culture, the natural vegetation and forests of Italy had been destroyed very early. Crops, pastures and vineyards replaced the natural vegetation. However, one of the hallmarks of contemporary Italy was established by man (olive groves, cypresses, pines, vineyards…).

olive trees tuscany flora italy

Beyond the three main plant species that are found almost everywhere in Italy (holly, cork oak and pine), the original vegetation has been preserved mainly in the more remote border areas and in Sardinia.

It was estimated that the flora of Italy is composed of some 7,672 species of vascular plants. Specifically, 7,031 are autochthonous and 641 are non-native species that have been widely naturalized for more than three decades. In addition, another 468 exotic species have been recorded as adventitious or naturalized in more recent times.

Dauna of Italy

Like plant life, Italy’s wild animals were almost completely eradicated. Today, indigenous animals such as eagles, ibex, chamois, bears, wolves and marmots can only be found in isolated enclaves and natural parks. However, there are now a limited number of bears and wolves living in the wild, many of which have migrated from neighboring Slovenia (although their population is growing very slowly and they are not always welcome).

Swordfish and dolphins can occasionally be seen off the coast. Even rare species of birds and seals have returned to Italy. In general, measures to protect endangered species begin to take effect little by little. Also, as in many other European countries, native animals have the opportunity to resettle.

Alpine marmot

The alpine marmot is found at altitudes between 800-3,200 m in the Apennines in Italy. They are excellent diggers and are able to penetrate soils that are even difficult to penetrate with a pickaxe. They are considered to be the largest squirrel species and can grow up to 54 cm and weigh up to 8 kg.

alpine marmot

If you’re hiking in the mountains of Italy, chances are you’ll see or hear one of these. They make a loud whistling sound when warning each other of possible danger.

Common wolf

The common wolf is the second largest member of the Canis family, after the Ethiopian wolf. It is a powerful animal that can run up to 70 km/h and jump 5 meters horizontally.

common wolf italy

Although this is one of the most dangerous animals in Italy, it is not common for them to kill people. It is very rare as they prefer to stay away from humans.

Western european hedgehog

The Western European hedgehog is one of the cutest animals in Italy. It is a small spiked animal that lives in most European countries, from Italy to Scandinavia.

western european hedgehog

They are about 30 cm long and have a spine equipped with 5,000-7,000 spines. Each vertebral column is about 2-3 cm long and covers most of the body, except the lower part.

When a hedgehog feels scared or threatened, it turns into a ball of spikes, which functions as a defense against predators.

Peasant vole

The country vole lives in everything but dense forests, such as grasslands, heaths, and fallow lands. They can also sometimes be found in agricultural fields where it likes to eat the crops.

peasant vole

The country vole is sometimes mixed with rats and mice, but the fact is that they are very different. The country vole has a blunt nose, small eyes and ears, as well as bushy tails. Unlike rats, common field mice’s tails, paws, and ears are completely covered in fur.


The chamois is a species of goat antelope native to the mountains of Europe. In Italy, they are found in the Apennines. It is a very small animal to be a bovine. They can reach a height of 80 cm, a length of 137 cm and a weight of 45 kg.

suede italy

They have brown colored fur during the summer that turns light gray in winter. Both females and males have these characteristic horns. The chamois is a fast animal that can easily escape predators. It can run at a speed of up to 50 km/h and jump horizontally up to 6 m.

Spectacled salamander

The spectacled salamander is endemic to Italy, found only in the southern Apennine mountain range. It lives in humid valleys and shady, vegetated slopes at altitudes between 200 and 1,200 m. They are most often found near streams, in dense vegetation, or under leaf litter, stones, and dead wood.

spectacled salamander

This small salamander is only 7-11 cm long and has a warty brown/black back with white/red markings on the tail, legs and a V-shaped mark on the head. When threatened, it raises its tail and legs to display its red underside and scare away predators.

Apennine brown bear

Among all the animals in Italy, the Apennine brown bear is probably one of the most interesting. This subspecies of bear can only be found in the Italian Alps, mainly in and around the Abruzzo-Lazio-Molise National Park.

pennine brown bear

Today, the Apennine brown bear is critically endangered and there are an estimated 45 bears left in the Italian wild.

Eurasian lynx

This feline is the largest of the lynx species and one of the largest predators in Europe after the brown bear and the wolf. They are quite shy animals, so you have to be lucky to see them in the wild.

Eurasian lynx

They are carnivorous, feeding mainly on hoofed animals, but will also eat smaller animals such as hares, rabbits, and foxes. The Eurasian lynx is characterized by its dark-spotted fur with black tufts on the tips of its ears.

Golden Eagle

One of the most famous flying animals in Italy is the golden eagle. These birds are dark brown in color with a lighter golden brown color on the head and neck. They are extremely fast and can reach speeds of up to 240 km/h.

Golden Eagle

Golden eagles feed mainly on hares, rabbits, marmots and squirrels. When they catch their prey, they combine speed with their powerful claws to snatch their food. They are mainly found in the mountainous regions of Italy.


The Alpine wild goat (or ibex) is found in northern Italy, especially in the Gran Paradiso National Park. They are fairly large mammals with brownish-gray fur and large, backward-curving horns. The horns of the males can reach 69-98 cm in length, and those of the females around 18-35 cm.

ibice goat alps

They are great climbers and like to traverse steep, rough terrain at elevations of 1,800-3,300m.

Red fox

The red fox is one of the animals that can be found in Italy in most of Europe, as well as in North Africa, North America, Asia and around the Arctic Circle. They reach up to 85 cm in length and weigh up to 5 kg. They are famous for their ruddy, reddish fur and long, thick bushy tails.

Red fox

The red fox feeds on any animal it can kill, as well as earthworms, fruit, and insects. Once they have food, they rarely abandon it, even to much larger and stronger animals. If you hear a “woof woof woof” sound when you’re out in the wild, it’s probably a red fox you’re hearing.

European bee-eater

The European bee-eater is found in southern Europe, as well as in northern Africa and western Asia. During the winter in Europe, it migrates to warmer, more tropical countries in Africa. They are one of the most colorful animals in Italy with their brilliant colors of brown, yellow, green and blue.

european bee-eater

As you can hear from the name, these birds love to eat bees – in fact, they can eat around 250 bees in a day. Before eating the bees, the European beekeeper removes the bee’s stinger by hitting it against a hard surface.

European badger

The European badger (tasugo) is native to most of Europe, as well as parts of Western Asia. It has a wide body with a small head and a short tail. The skin has colors of both, black, white, gray and brown.

european badger

It sleeps during the day in burrows, which can house several families of badgers. Burrows often have extensive underground passage systems and chambers with multiple entrances.

They are very clean animals that remove dirty material and bring fresh bedding back to their burrows. They even poop outside – strategically around their territory to mark it.

Gray dormouse

The gray dormouse lives in parks, gardens, plains, mountains, and deciduous trees. But it is found especially in oaks. It is a small, skinny mouse with a round head, large eyes, and a long bushy tail. Its fur is greyish-brown in color with white underparts.

gray dormouse

This rodent feeds mainly on plants, but sometimes also on eggs and chickens. Its name comes from the Romans, who ate them as a delicacy.

Least weasel

The least weasel is a mammal that has a long, slender body with short legs and a short tail. It is brownish-yellow in color and has white underparts and tail.

least weasel

It is found in many places in Italy; in mountains, in forests, on cultivated land, on plains and in bushy areas. The least weasel feeds on birds, eggs, reptiles, hares, rabbits, and amphibians.

European praying mantis

The praying mantis gets its name from the fact that its front legs are folded and joined together, making it look like they are praying. The praying mantis is also known to eat its mate right after or during mating.

european praying mantis

They are fascinating insects that can turn their heads 180 degrees to scan their surroundings with their two large eyes and three smaller eyes situated between them. They use their front legs equipped with nails to catch their prey. His reflexes are so fast that it is difficult for us humans to see with the naked eye.

Calabrian black squirrel

Of all the animals in Italy, the Calabrian black squirrel is one of the animal species that can only be found in Italy. The Calabrian black squirrel lives in the forests of Calabria and Basilicata on the southern side of the Italian peninsula and is often found near their nests which they build in pine or oak trees. They also like to be around black pine trees, as the seeds are an important food source for them.

calabrian black squirrel

The Calabrian black squirrel has black to dark brown fur with white underparts. It is a kind of large squirrel compared, for example, with the common red squirrel. It can weigh up to 300-530 g.

European otter

When it comes to animals in Italy, the European otter is definitely one of the cutest! This otter is native to Eurasia and can be found in the waterways of southern Italy.

european otter

The Eurasian otter’s fur is brown above and cream below, and can be up to 95 cm long, excluding tail length. Its diet consists mainly of fish, but it can also feed on insects, birds, amphibians, and small mammals.

Mediterranean black widow spider

The Mediterranean black widow spider is one of the most poisonous animals in Italy, so you don’t want to be bitten by one. Like all black widow spiders, a bite can be very painful and even fatal in some cases, but it is not common.

european widow spider

They are not aggressive spiders and do not bite unless threatened or frightened. Sometimes they bite but do not inject their venom. It is recognized by its black body with thirteen red/orange/yellow spots. They are found in central and southern Italy, in Apulia and in Sardinia.

Golden jackal

The golden jackal is part of the canid family and looks like a wolf, but is much smaller in size. They can weigh up to 14 kg and can grow up to 85 cm long.

golden jackal

Golden jackals are found in valleys and near rivers, canals, lakes, and coastlines. They are highly adaptable and can eat fruit, insects, and small ungulates.

Monk parrot

The monk parrot is a small parrot with green and gray feathers. It is native to the temperate and subtropical zones of Argentina and neighboring countries, but also lives in North America and Europe, including Italy.

monk parrot

It is a relatively small bird measuring 29 cm long with a wingspan of 48 cm. They like to eat seeds, nuts, fruits, berries, and vegetation such as leaf and flower buds, but some may also eat insects.

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