Animals in Kenya: A Complete Guide to Kenyan Wildlife

Below you can find a complete list of types of animals in Kenya. We currently track 235 animals in Kenya and are adding more every day!

Like many countries in Africa, Kenya is abundant in mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, amphibians, and insects. Many iconic wildlife species of Africa are native to Kenya, including lions, hippos, elephants, buffalo, zebras, and giraffes.

The country lies in east Africa, meeting the Indian Ocean on one side, so marine animals constitute a portion of the wildlife found in the country. Kenya borders Tanzania on the southwest, Uganda on the west, and to the north lies at least part of South Sudan and Ethiopia, and the east, Somalia. One of the many reasons to visit Kenya is to see its amazing and unique wildlife up close while on safari. Read on for more facts about Kenyan wildlife.

The Official National Animal of Kenya

The national animal of Kenya is the East African lion, Panthera leo melanochaita, whse cinematic roar and lush mane make it a regal, magnificent sight. It is one of the “Big Five” game that was popularly hunted but are now poached illegally. These activities along with habitat fragmentation and loss have resulted in the endangerment of East African lions.

Birds in Kenya

When people think Africa they immediately picture savannah plains and big game animals roaming through the sparse acacia trees. However, African countries each have their own unique and differing environments, ranging from rainforest to plains to deserts to forests, even varying within countries. Kenya is a perfect example of a multi-environment country with mountains, forests, rain forests, plateaus, and even coastal regions. All of these areas provide shelter to multitudes of bird species, drawing in birdwatchers worldwide. National Parks and other protected wildlife areas are great areas to look for rare and exciting birds. Listed are some of the most sought out species and where to find them:

  • Maasai Mara – Rosy-throated long claw, magpie shrike
  • Samburu – Rare shining sunbird, pink breasted lark
  • Nairobi – Northern pied babbler, Pangani long claw
  • Mt Kenya National Park – Olive ibis, montane white-eye

The best time of year to visit Kenya for birdwatching is July and early August to catch the migration of thousands of birds across the Mara River. Otherwise, it is best to go during rainy season of April-May when bird species are more prominent or around November and December for breeding.

Fish in Kenya

Not only is Kenya known worldwide for the wildlife that roams its lands but also for its beautiful coastline and the marine wildlife of its waters. The vast, blue Indian Ocean meets 400 miles of coastline in the country, providing one of the continent’s largest coral reefs, home to brilliant marine. Snorkeling, diving, and water sports are popular along this reef, however, big game fishing off this coast is world renowned. Species sought after include:

Some popular destinations for fishing are Mombasa, North Kenya Banks, and Shimoni. Freshwater fishing is also available in the mazes of rivers and lakes within Kenya. Rainbow and brown trout thrive in these waters and fishing in the mainland can prove a good way to spot land-dwelling wildlife as well as the beautiful landscapes of the country.

Snakes in Kenya

Kenya is a fantastic place to visit for seeing wildlife and visiting incredible National Parks and protected areas. Animals within the country, while majestic, are wild and should not be interfered with, as they can be quite dangerous. This includes certain reptile species, like snakes. A whopping 171 species of snake live in the country, a handful of which are venomous. Found throughout the various landscapes of Kenya, here is a list of the most dangerous snakes:

  • Puff Adder – Outranking the Black Mamba as the deadliest snake in the country is the Puff Adder, as it is responsible for most human fatalities here. Well camouflaged, these snakes can kill an adult with one bite.
  • Black Mamba – This snake species needs no introduction, as it is well known throughout the continent of Africa as one of the most dangerous creatures. Black mambas get their name not for external color but for the jet-black interior of their mouths, which open in an attack. They are highly aggressive and can reach about 12 mph.
  • Boomslang – Known to reside high in trees, these elusive reptiles can cause some serious damage to the human body with its venom, preventing blood clots and leading to internal bleeding.
  • Cobra – Four species of cobra reside in Kenya, including spitting cobras. The most menacing of the species is the Large Brown Spitting Cobra, known to grow 15ft in length.

Puff adders tend to be the cause of most snake bites in Kenya as many people tend to step on the camouflaged snake during the day and especially at night. The venom is cytotoxic, leading to very unfortunate side effects and pain and spreading quickly. If bitten by any snake, it is important to seek medical attention to prevent allergic reaction or infection, a large reason why people die from snake bites regardless of toxicity.

The Most Dangerous Animals In Kenya Today

Some of the most dangerous types of animals in Kenya include the Big Five. They are the lion, the leopard, the elephant, the rhinoceros, and the buffalo. These beasts were considered the most dangerous to take down during hunting safaris. Now they are among the most popular during sightseeing safaris, but they’re still formidable. Here are some facts about them:

  • Hippopotamus — Many people mistakenly believe this aggressive and territorial semi-aquatic animal would be easy to evade when it gets angry, but it’s not. Between 500 and an astonishing 3000 people are killed every year by hippopotami. Being in the water is no protection, for the animal is fond of capsizing boats and attacking people who fall into the water.
  • Nile crocodile — This animal kills between 175 and 469 people every year. Since humans are on the menu for this huge reptile, it’s safe to assume that some of them are eaten.
  • African buffalo — The African buffalo is responsible for about 200 human deaths every year, either through goring or trampling.
  • Mosquitoes — The lowly mosquito is a vector for several dread diseases, with malaria being pre-eminent among them. About a million people die of the disease every year.

Zoos in Kenya

Zoos and museums exist in Kenya for the purpose of public and visitor education and wildlife protection. Breeding and rehabilitation services are also in place at some of these establishments, as well. However, the best places to see wildlife in their natural habitats is through what locals call “safari,” literally meaning journey, through National Parks, Wildlife Management Areas, Game Reserves, and other protected areas. This way visitors can experience how animals are in the wild versus seeing them behind glass enclosures. Some of the most popular places to visit include:

Reserves include the famous Maasai Mara, Buffalo Springs National Reserve, Shaba National Reserve, Shimba Hills National Reserve, and Lewa Downs, which is actually a conservancy where visitors can see the black rhino, an animal native to Kenya and so highly endangered that it is on the verge of going extinct. Lewa Downs is also the home of Grévy’s zebra, which is considered endangered. The Kenyan Wildlife Service manages these parks and reserves.

Endangered Animals In Kenya

Like everywhere else, Kenya has its share of endangered creatures. Some are in such trouble that without the strong conservation efforts provided by the Kenyan Wildlife Service they would probably be extinct. They include:

  • Black rhino. This majestic and unique animal is critically endangered, and the western black rhino was classified as extinct in 2011.
  • Cheetah. The cheetah is considered vulnerable.
  • Black fronted francolin. This is a type of quail. It is considered endangered.
  • Gray-crowned crane: This bird, with its unique crown of golden feathers, is endangered.
  • Pancake tortoise. The pancake tortoise, named for its flat shell, is critically endangered.

Kenyan Animals

Aardvark

Can move 2ft of soil in just 15 seconds!

Aardwolf

The aardwolf has five toes on its front paws

Abyssinian

The oldest breed of cat in the world!

African Bullfrog

The African bullfrog is one of only three species of frog that have “teeth.”

African Bush Elephant

Can drink up to 50 gallons a day

African Civet

Secretes up to 4g of musk every week!

African Clawed Frog

A particularly ferocious amphibian!

African Palm Civet

Solitary but gathers in groups!

African Wild Dog

Also known as the painted dog!

Agama Lizard

The agama forms small social groups that contain both dominant and subordinate males.

American Cockroach

Despite its name, actually originated from Africa and the Middle East

Ant

First evolved 100 million years ago!

Antelope

Renew their horns every year!

Armyworm

They are so named because they "march" in armies of worms from one crop to another in search of food

Baboon

Can travel more than four miles a day!

Banana Spider

People spin clothing and fishing nets out of these spiders’ silk.

Barb

There are over 1768 known species!

Barn Owl

Found everywhere around the world!

Barn Swallow

Older offspring help care for new hatchlings.

Bat

Detects prey using echolocation!

Bed Bugs

Bed bugs feed for 4-12 minutes.

Bee

Rock paintings of bees date back 15,000 years

Beetle

There are more than 350,000 different species

Bichir

The bichir species is more than 400 million years old

Bird

Not all birds are able to fly!

Biscuit Beetle

The biscuit beetle form a symbiotic relationship with yeast

Black Mamba

Black mambas are the longest venomous snake in Africa, and second longest in the world.

Black Rhinoceros

Horns can grow to 1.5m!

Black Widow Spider

They typically prey on insects!

Blind Snake

The blind snake is often mistaken for a worm.

Brown-banded Cockroach

Females glue egg cases to furniture

Brown Dog Tick

Can live its entire life indoors

Buffalo

Has no real natural predators!

Bumblebee

The most common species of bee!

Bush Baby

In a series of leaps, this creature can cover almost 30 feet of distance in just a few seconds.

Bush Viper

Bush vipers are predators, sinking their fangs into prey while dangling from a tree limb

Butterfly

There are thought to be up 17,500 species!

Caecilian

Some species' babies use their hooked or scraper-like teeth to peel off and eat their mother's skin

Caracal

Has 20 different muscles in it's ears!

Carpenter Ant

Carpenter ants can lift up to seven times their own weight with their teeth!

Carpet Viper

The Carpet Viper probably bites and kills more people than any other species of snake.

Cat

First domesticated by the Ancient Egyptians!

Caterpillar

The larvae of a moth or butterfly!

Catfish

There are nearly 3,000 different species!

Centipede

There are about 3,000 documented species!

Chameleon

There are more than 160 different species!

Cheetah

The fastest land mammal in the world!

Chicken

First domesticated more than 10,000 years ago!

Cichlid

There are more than 2 000 known species!

Cockroach

Dated to be around 300 million years old!

Codling Moth

Pupae are able to undergo diapause to survive poor fruit yield years and winter.

Common Buzzard

The most common raptor in the UK!

Common Furniture Beetle

The common furniture beetle feeds exclusively on wood

Common House Spider

House spiders have the ability to eat most insects in a home.

Cow

There are nearly 1.5 million worldwide!

Crab

There are 93 different crab groups

Crab Spider

Crab Spiders can mimic ants or bird droppings

Crane

Many are critically endangered species!

Cricket

Male crickets can produce sounds by rubbing their wings together

Crocodile

Have changed little in 200 million years!

Crow

A group of these birds is called a Murder.

Desert Locust

Solitary locusts are grey while gregarious locusts are yellow with stripes.

Dik-Dik

A dik-dik is named after a sound it makes when it is frightened

Dog

First domesticated in South-East Asia!

Dog Tick

Dog ticks feed on dogs and other mammals

Donkey

First domesticated 5,000 years ago!

Dormouse

Found in Europe, Africa and Asia!

Dragonfly

It's larvae are carnivorous!

Duck

Rows of tiny plates line their teeth!

Dung Beetle

The dung beetle can push objects many times its own weight

Earthworm

They are hermaphrodites, which means they have male and female organs

Earwig

There are nearly 2,000 different species!

Eastern Green Mamba

It is completely arboreal, and its green color is one of the adaptations that make life in the trees possible.

Eel

Eels can be a mere few inches long to 13 feet!

Egyptian Cobra

The Egyptian cobra is one of the largest cobras in Africa.

Egyptian Goose

A duck species that resembles a goose when flying

Eland

Both females and males have horns.

Electric Catfish

The electric catfish can discharge an electric shock up to 450 volts

Elephant

Spends around 22 hours a day eating!

Elephant Shrew

Found exclusively on the African continent!

Falcon

The fastest creatures on the planet!

False Widow Spider

False spiders actually prey on black widow spiders and other hazardous spiders

Fiddler Crab

The fiddler crab gets its name from the motion the males make with their over-sized claw during the mating ritual.

Firefly

The firefly produces some of the most efficient light in the world

Flamingo

Sleeps on just one leg!

Flea

Adult fleas can jump up to 7 inches in the air

Fly

There are more than 240,000 different species!

Fox

There are 12 different species in the world!

Frog

There are around 7,000 different species!

Fruit Bat

Among the largest bats in the world

Fruit Fly

Fruit flies are among the most common research animals in the world

Gaboon Viper

Gaboon vipers are the largest vipers in Africa.

Gazelle

Named for the Arabic word for love poems

Gecko

There are thought to be over 2,000 species!

Gerbil

Originally known as the Desert Rat!

German Cockroach

The most common type of urban roach

Giraffe

Long, black tongue can grow to 18 inches long!

Glass Lizard

Can grow up to 4ft long!

Glow Worm

Found inhabiting dense woodland and caves!

Gnat

Males form large mating swarms at dusk

Goat

Most closely related to the Sheep!

Golden Oriole

Migrates between Europe and Asia!

Grasshopper

There are 11,000 known species!

Green Bee-Eater

Mainly eats honeybees!

Green Mamba

Green mambas are fast, and can travel up to 7 miles per hour.

Guinea Fowl

Found in a vairety of African habitats!

Hamster

Able to run as quickly backwards as forwards!

Hare

Can reach speeds of over 40 mph!

Hawk Moth Caterpillar

Many hawk moth caterpillars eat toxins from plants, but don’t sequester them the way milkweed butterflies do. Most toxins are excreted.

Hedgehog

Thought to be one of the oldest mammals on Earth!

Heron

Inhabits wetlands around the world!

Hippopotamus

Has pink anti-bacterial sweat!

Honey Badger

One of earth's bravest creatures!

Honey Bee

There are only 8 recognized species!

Hoopoe

Stunning bird with a stinky way to deter predators!

Horse

Has evolved over 50 million years!

Horsefly

Horseflies have been seen performing Immelmann turns, much like fighter jets.

Housefly

The fly has no teeth

Human

Thought to have orignated 200,000 years ago!

Huntsman Spider

Some huntsman spiders have an interesting way of moving around. Some cartwheel while others do handsprings or backflips.

Hyena

There are four different species!

Ibis

Found in swamps, marshes and wetlands!

Impala

Able to jump over 10 feet high

Insects

There are an estimated 30 million species!

Jacana

The jacana has the ability to swim underwater

Jackal

Can maintain speeds of 16 km/h!

Jackson’s Chameleon

Have jousting battles with their horns.

Jumping Spider

Some can jump 50 times the length of their bodies

Kenyan Sand Boa

A popular pet snake that comes in dozens of morphs!

Kingfisher

Inhabits wetlands and woodlands worldwide!

Klipspringer

Klipspringers can jump as high as 10-12ft!

Kori Bustard

It's easily identified by its crest, large size, and wingspan

Kudu

Lives in herds of up to 24 individuals!

Ladybug

There are more than 5,000 species worldwide!

Lappet-faced Vulture

Lappet-faced vultures are tidy and wash their heads in a body of water after they’ve eaten

Leech

Has 10 pairs of eyes!

Leopard

Spends much of the time high in the trees!

Leopard Tortoise

The most widely distributed tortoise in Africa!

Liger

The offspring of a lion and tiger parents!

Lion

Lives in small groups called prides!

Lizard

There are around 5,000 different species!

Locust

Each locust can eat its weight in plants each day.

Maggot

Will only live in wet areas

Magpie

They are found across Europe, Asia and Africa!

Marabou Stork

The marabou stork does not have a voice box.

Mayfly

There are 2,500 known species worldwide!

Mealybug

They have a symbiotic relationship with ants.

Millipede

Some species have a poisonous bite!

Mole

Primarily hunts and feeds on Earthworms!

Mongoose

Range in size from just 1 to 3 foot!

Mongrel

Has characteristics of two or more breeds!

Monitor Lizard

Some species are thought to carry a weak venom!

Monkey

There are around 260 known species!

Moorhen

Feeds on aquatic insects and water-spiders!

Mosquito

Only the female mosquito actually sucks blood

Moth

There are 250,000 different species!

Mouse

Found on every continent on Earth!

Mule

The offspring of a horse and donkey parents!

Naked Mole Rat

Naked mole rats don’t get cancer

Nightingale

Named more than 1,000 years ago!

Nile Crocodile

When a female Nile crocodile’s hatchlings are in danger, she may hide them in a special pouch inside her throat.

No See Ums

There are more than 5,000 species.

Olive Baboon

Olive baboons will sometimes form strong friendships with each other

Orb Weaver

Females are about four times the size of males

Ostrich

The largest bird in the world!

Otter

There are 13 different species worldwide

Owl

The owl can rotate its head some 270 degrees

Pangolin

Bad eyesight, but great sense of smell

Parrot

Can live for up to 100 years!

Peregrine Falcon

Fastest animal on Earth

Pheasant

Females lay between 8 and 12 eggs per clutch!

Pigeon

They can find their way back to their nests from up to 1300 miles away.

Praying Mantis

The mantis can turn its head 180 degrees.

Puff Adder

This large snake is so-named because it will puff up its body to appear bigger than it is when directly threatened by a predator or person.

Quail

Inhabits woodland and forest areas worldwide!

Rabbit

There are more than 50 different species!

Rat

Omnivores that eat anything!

Red-Billed Quelea Bird

Is the most populous bird in the world

Red Spitting Cobra

Scientists believe that the red spitting cobra evolved from injecting venom to spitting it in response to the constant threat of early humans

Rhinoceros

It's horns are made from keratin!

River Turtle

Inhabits freshwater habitats around the world!

Robin

There are more than 45 species in Australia alone!

Rodents

The capybara, the world’s largest rodent, likes to be in and around bodies of water. Because of this, the Catholic Church in South America decided that it was a fish, and people were allowed to eat it during Lent and First Fridays.

Rooster

Will mate with the entire flock!

Sable Ferret

Ferrets were used during the Revolutionary War to keep down the rat population.

Sand Crab

The sand crab burrows beneath the sand with its tail

Scorpion

There are around 2,000 known species!

Sea Eagle

The sea eagle tends to mate for life with a single partner

Seahorse

Males give birth to up to 1,000 offspring!

Serval

Can leap more than 1 meter into the air!

Sheep

Around 35 million in the English countryside!

Shrew

The spinal column of the shrew Scutisorex somereni is so strong and reinforced that it can support the weight of an adult human.

Shrimp

There are 2,000 different species worldwide!

Skink Lizard

Some skinks lay eggs in some habitats while giving birth to skinklets in other habitats.

Slug

They glide around on one foot, which is aided by the slime they produce

Smokybrown Cockroach

Has up to 45 eggs per egg case

Snail

There are nearly 1,000 different species!

Snake

There are around 3,000 known species worldwide

Sparrow

There are 140 different species!

Spider Wasp

They prey on spiders to feed their larvae or they parasitize other spider wasps.

Spitting Cobra

Spitting cobras are types of cobras that can spit venom at predators and prey.

Squirrel

Small rodents found in woodlands worldwide!

Stick Insect

There are more than 3,000 different species!

Stiletto Snake

Because of their unique venom delivery system, stiletto snakes are almost impossible to hold safely in the usual way (with fingers behind the head) without being bitten.

Stork

They can’t sing like other birds.

Striped Hyena

The striped hyenas usually mark their territories with the help of the scent gland secretions from their anal pouch.

Swan

Populations have been affected by pollution!

Tarantula Hawk

Tarantula hawks are excellent pollinators, especially for milkweed.

Termite

Their mounds can be up to 9 meters tall!

Thrush

The American robin is called the robin because its red breast reminded European settlers of the robin back in the old country.

Tick

They inject hosts with a chemical that stops them from feeling the pain of the bite

Tiger Beetle

The adult tiger beetle is one of the fastest land insects in the world

Tortoise

Can live until they are more than 150 years old!

Tree Frog

Found in warmer jungles and forests!

Tsetse Fly

Tsetse flies are large biting flies that live in the tropical regions of Africa.

Turtles

Some species of aquatic turtles can get up to 70 percent of their oxygen through their butt.

Vinegaroon

Vinegaroons can spray 19 times before the glands are depleted

Vulture

There are 30 different species worldwide!

Warthog

Has two sets of tusks on it's face!

Wasp

There are around 75,000 recognised species!

Water Buffalo

Has been domesticated for thousands of years!

Whinchat

The whinchat can imitate the songs of at least a dozen other tpes of birds!

White Ferret / Albino Ferrets

There are two different types of white ferrets!

White Rhinoceros

The second largest animal on the land!

Wolf Spider

Carnivorous arachnid that hunts its prey.

Woodlouse

This animal can roll up into a ball

Woodpecker

There are 200 different species!

Worm

Doesn’t have eyes.

Zebra

Stripe patterns are unique to each individual!

Zebu

There are around 75 different species!

Zonkey

The offspring of Zebra and Donkey parents!

Zorse

The offspring of a Zebra and Horse parents!

Kenyan Animals List

Animals in Kenya: A Complete Guide to Kenyan Wildlife FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What animals are found in Kenya?

Among the many, many creatures found in Kenya are the lion, the leopard, and the cheetah, the black and white rhinoceros, giraffes, antelopes that range in size from the huge eland to the tiny duiker, elephants, and Cape buffalo. Others include hippopotamus, warthogs, spotted hyenas and wild dogs. Birds include flamingos, cranes, lemon doves, grebes, bustards, and turacos. Reptiles include chameleons, grass lizards, blind snakes, skinks, agamas, and geckos. There are also black and green mambas, turtles, and tortoises, some of which are endangered. There are tree frogs and grass frogs and clawed frogs.

Insects besides mosquitos include spiders, including the two-tailed spider, stone flies, earwigs, dragonflies and termites, crickets, katydids and praying mantises. Butterflies and moths include skippers, commodores, brush-footed butterflies and blues.

Kenya also has a wealth of freshwater fish. These include the Nile perch, tilapia, tiger fish, the Ripon barbel, the ningu, the common carp, and the African catfish. They are found in bodies of water such as River Nzoia, River Kuja, the Tana River, Lake Kenyatta, Lake Jipe, and Lake Turkana, the largest lake that’s entirely inside Kenya.

There is also abundant marine life in the Indian Ocean off Kenya. They include sharks, whales, dolphins, rays, turtles, corals, and marine mollusks such as clams and oysters.

How many animals are left in Kenya?

Because Kenya is dedicated to conserving its unique wildlife, there are many species of animals that are still left in Kenya. At last count, there were 25,000 species of animals, which translates into millions of individuals.

What is the Kenyan national animal?

The male East African lion is the Kenyan national animal.

What animals can you see on safari in Kenya?

Animals that can be seen on safari in Kenya include The Big Five, which means prides of lions, herds of elephants and Cape buffalo, solitary leopards, and rhinoceros. Other animals include hippopotamus, wildebeest, zebras, antelope such as eland and impala, warthogs, wild dogs, and hyenas. These animals can be seen in Amboseli Park, Meru National Park, Samburu National Reserve, Maasai Mara, Kora National Park, and others.