Flora and fauna of Russia

Flora of Russia

Russia has various soil and vegetation zones, each with its characteristic flora and fauna. The northernmost is the so-called arctic desert zone, which includes most of the islands of the Arctic Ocean and the coast of the Taymyr Peninsula. These areas are characterized by the almost total absence of vegetation cover; only mosses and lichens are found.

The tundra, which stretches across the northern tip of Asia, is divided into arctic, mossy lichen, and shrubby tundra subzones. Only dwarf birches, willows, lichens and mosses grow in the thin layer of acidic soil.

flora russia taiga

To the south of the tundra is the vast area of ​​forest, or taiga, which covers half the country; the soil here is podzolic. The northern parts of this zone are characterized by alternating tundra landscape with sparse growth of birch, other deciduous and spruce trees. Further south are spruce, pine, fir, cedar and some deciduous trees. There are mixed and broadleaved forest subzones on the Great Russian Plain in the southern half of the forest zone.

Further south is the forest-steppe zone, a narrow strip with the limits of the Great Russian Plain and the West Siberian lowlands. The steppes with various grasses alternate with small extensions of oak, birch and poplar. Further south still, the forest steppe transforms into a region of varied grasses and small plants. The black and brown soils in this area produce the best agricultural land in Russia.

In the semi-desert zone, the vegetation cover includes grasses and xerophytic shrubs.

Fauna of Russia

Russia contains numerous rare and unusual creatures, endemic animals whose natural habitat is limited to inland areas of the country. To see them, you may have to embark on a journey to some of the most remote regions of Russia. However, you will not only be rewarded with the beauty of the forests and lakes, but also the opportunity to touch the silky fur of these wonderful creatures.

Snow Leopard

This wild cat, which the locals call Irbis or Bars, is actually quite rare. There are only several thousand of them left in the world, but it is very difficult to count them. Snow leopards lead a secret life, preferring remote areas in the mountains.

Snow Leopard

In Russia, they live in Siberia, mainly in the Altai and Sayan mountains. They have long, fluffy tails and dense spotted fur that protects them from Siberian frosts. Some scientists call these cats gourmets, because they like to eat herbed meat.

Orlov Trotter

This is the most famous and ancient breed of the Russian horse. You can easily recognize an Orlov Trotter due to their unique gray spotted coat, although they can have different colored coats, from light gray to dark brown.

orlov trotter

The trotter was bred in the 1770s by Russian Count Alexei Orlov on his estate near Moscow. The Orlov Trotter is a tall, light and graceful horse with a lush, thick mane, not to mention a noble posture. They have a friendly disposition, like people, and they have a lot of energy. They are also very fast.


Samoyed guard dogs are awesome and they know it. They always have a smile etched on their faces, they are always smiling. For thousands of years the canine has been a companion to the Samoyed people living in the Russian Far North.

samoyed dog

The indigenous people use these dogs to take care of their children, and they also like to sleep on them thanks to their soft fur. It is a very bad idea to keep a Samoyed in an apartment because he is very active and needs a lot of space. But if you’re lucky and treat them right, they’ll be your best friends!

Arctic fox

This furry white cupcake is an inhabitant of the tundra, and its white fur acts as camouflage in the snow. Arctic foxes are also very friendly.

arctic fox

The Arctic fox lives in harsh conditions, enduring long cold winters, lack of food, and dangerous, hungry beasts. However, humans are the main predators of the fox, we hunt them for their fur. In summer, the arctic fox’s fur changes color to a “dirty” brown, which is much less stylish than its winter attire.

Far Eastern Wildcat

Despite their cute and friendly appearance, they are actually deadly predators. Bobcats hate bad weather and may even spend several days in their shelter if it’s snowing. Their heavy fur has a layer of fat underneath, which keeps them warm during the colder months.

wildcat russian far east

Caucasian red deer

This red deer, or maral, lives in the Caucasus. This noble animal is famous thanks to its huge branched horns that can be over a meter long. Husbands are shy and in no way aggressive – in the wild, they try to hide from humans. However, people believe that their young, velvety horns have medicinal qualities and they are raised on farms.

caucasus red deer maral

Amur tiger

The Amur (or Siberian) tiger is one of the largest and rarest wild cats in the world. In the Russian Far East, where these impressive beasts mostly live, there are only 500 tigers left. The tiger’s coat is unique, like a fingerprint: no two patterns are the same.

siberian amur tiger


Despite its great weight and apparent clumsiness, it is a very agile animal. It can stalk its prey, jump on its back (at a speed of 50 km/h), and kill it with a single blow of its paw.


The brown bear inhabits almost the entire forest area and the most dangerous variant is the sleepless bear. It’s about a bear that, for some reason, doesn’t hibernate in winter, or comes out of its den long before winter is over. A bear that wakes up early has a very unpleasant disposition and should be given ample space.

Grey Wolf

This is probably the most common predator in Russia. They live throughout the country, except in the thickets of the taiga and on some islands. Wolves live in packs, which makes them dangerous because, at a call from the alpha wolf, the pack could easily attack a human.

common gray wolf

In Kievan Rus’, one of the cruelest types of execution was tying people to trees in the forest, leaving them to be devoured by wolves. However, wolves do not attack people very often: it can happen only in early spring, on some deserted trails through the woods when the wolf is short of food. In case of danger, hunters advise climbing the nearest tree and waiting for the herd to lose patience and leave to find less resourceful prey.

Polar Bear

While the brown bear is rightly considered the master of Russian forests, the polar bear inhabits drifting and coastal sea ice where it finds its main prey: seals, walruses and other marine animals.

polar bear russia

Although movies often portray it as a harmless animal, the polar bear is very powerful and dangerous. Like his brown brother, he can rip a person’s head off with a single blow. However, polar bears only attack humans in rare cases, when their habitats are destroyed.

There are special routes for tourists in Russia that include observation and photography of polar bears by helicopter.

Russian muskrat

Millions of years ago, when mammoths had not yet appeared on this planet, the Russian muskrat was already here. This animal seems to embody antiquity in a certain sense. Its limited eyesight makes it similar to a mole, while the shape of its tail and its lifestyle are reminiscent of an Australian native – the platypus.

desman in Russian

Today this unusual semi-aquatic mammal lives in the basins of the Don, Volga and Ural rivers. The fur of a Russian muskrat remains dry even under water due to the oily musk its glands secrete. It was the strong aromatic properties of its musk and its unique fur that brought the riot to the brink of extinction a few centuries ago, but now this animal is under protection.

Freshwater seals

The only mammals that inhabit Lake Baikal and Lake Ladoga are their seals. The most charming residents of these freshwater lakes have become their unofficial symbols. The Baikal seal (nerpa) and the Ladoga ringed seal are sure to win the affection of any tourist. These animals have swirling eyes that look right into your soul, cute fluffy pups, and a curious nature. Lake Baikal even has a marine aquarium where these ingenious creatures show off their graceful movements.

freshwater seals

Seals are mentioned in many old Russian stories and legends. The Chukotka villages have a story about a great mother seal who gave birth to all living creatures on earth.

Putorana Snow Sheep

The impenetrable Putorana plateau is one of the wildest and least accessible areas of Russia: you have to take a boat or fly to get there. This land is home to the Putorana Snow Sheep. If reaching the plateau is a challenge in itself, spotting its highlander also requires a fair amount of luck. Brutal and elegant at the same time, this animal with its thick sinuous horns and cautious manner grazes among jagged rocks at an altitude of 1,700 meters.

putorana snow sheep

It is impossible to know why the Putorana sheep chose this difficult plateau, where they are forced to survive in harsh conditions, surrounded by ever-present dangers. These shy creatures probably enjoy being remote and undisturbed.

Lemmus amurensis

This rare mammal resembles a guinea pig or a large hamster with speckled fur. They inhabit the taiga of Eastern Siberia and Kamchatka.

lemmus amurensis

To see a Lemmus amurensis, you may have to spend hours wandering through swamps and mossy bogs: these rodents dig deep, maze-like holes in soft moss. A lemmus’s daily ration exceeds its own weight, but an active lifestyle helps them stay fit.

Siberian crane

The Siberian Crane is majestic, with snow-white plumage and a long red beak. These rare birds can be seen in Yakutia and near Yamal in Western Siberia. The Khanty, an indigenous people of Western Siberia, worship the crane as a sacred bird. These wary cranes prefer to avoid humans and warn their fellow creatures with a long shriek, so they can only be seen performing their impressive ritual movements from a safe distance.

siberian crane

The Siberian Crane is listed on the Red List as a critically endangered species. In 2012, President Vladimir Putin participated in The Flight of Hope, an action aimed at promoting the protection of this species. Accompanied by young cranes, the Russian president flew alongside him on a motorized hang glider.

Barguzin’s sable marten

The eastern shores of Lake Baikal are covered with thick taiga, where you can find an agile creature with fluffy brown fur – the Barguzin sable. The species, named after the Barguzin River, is very curious and is not afraid of humans.

marten cibellina barguzin sable

Lucky tourists can get close enough to pet a marten and hear it purr, like a cat. Due to its fine, silver-toned fur, the Barguzin marten is highly prized and nicknamed the “king of wild furs” or “soft gold.”

Northern common adder

It was the bite of the common viper that killed the legendary Prince Oleg, one of the founders of the Kievan Rus’ state. Modern medicine could, of course, have saved him. The snake’s venom can kill a small person, but it is not lethal to a healthy person weighing more than 60 kilograms (132 pounds), especially if they have antihistamine medication in their pocket.

common northern viper

The viper’s venomous fangs are only 4 millimeters long and cannot bite through most jeans, let alone shoes. Specialists say that it is virtually impossible to step on a viper without realizing it.

The snake allows a person to approach it at a distance of 3-4 meters (10 feet) and then hisses loudly as a warning and… withdraws. Hunters advise people to stomp their feet if they suspect snakes may be around. The snake feels the vibration and moves out of its way.


This northern cat can be the size of a large dog. In Russia, 90% of the lynx population lives in Siberia. The beast is more dangerous if you forget to look through the trees because you are distracted picking mushrooms or berries.

lynx russia

The lynx usually attacks its prey from above and goes for the neck, but it does not usually attack people. It only approaches human dwellings in exceptional cases: a very hungry lynx may enter a chicken coop or hunt domestic rabbits.

Karakurt Spider

This European black widow is one of the 10 most dangerous spiders on Earth and is found in the Russian region of Astrakhan.

During hot summers, it may migrate to more northern areas, such as the Moscow region. Its favorite habitat is the slopes of the ravines. They are particularly active on summer nights.

karakurt spider

The bite causes acute pain, which passes quickly, but after a while (from 15 minutes to 6 hours), severe pain spreads throughout the bitten limb, and then to the muscles of the body, chest and abdomen. Immediately after the bite (within two minutes at the most), you can hold a lighted match against the bite site and any poison that has not already penetrated the body is destroyed by the heat.

This method is vital if medical assistance is not accessible. In all other cases, urgent hospitalization is recommended.


For fur trappers, the wolverine is hell. A cunning and strong animal, a cross between a bear cub and a dog, it easily avoids all traps and even kills and eats game caught in a trap. The indigenous people of northern Siberia believe that the wolverine, not the bear, is the master of the taiga.

wolverine russia

Unlike wolves, who, once their hunger is satisfied, can abandon their prey and return to the hunt, the wolverine breaks up the carcass and hides pieces in various places and will not leave the area until it has eaten everything, including the bones. The wolverine is one of the few animals that cannot be domesticated even if several generations live in captivity. The wolverine avoids the man and attacks only in extreme cases.

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