Animals in Malawi

Below you can find a complete list of Malawian animals. We currently track 223 animals in Malawi and are adding more every day!

Malawi, a landlocked country in Africa, is blessed with an abundance of wildlife. Much of the country is actually made up of Lake Malawi, which is home to some of the country’s 500 fish species. Many of these species are found nowhere else on the continent. Another important geographical feature of the country, which shares borders with Zambia, Mozambique, and Tanzania, is the Great Rift Valley. Besides its hundreds of fish species, Malawi has 187 types of mammals and 648 types of birds. Other animals include reptiles and insects, including hundreds of species of butterflies and moths.

The Official National Animal of Malawi

The official national animal of Malawi is the beautiful Thompson’s gazelle, or “Tommie.” This is a common gazelle, which is a type of antelope. It is found not only in Malawi but Kenya and Tanzania and other countries with grassland and savannas. This small gazelle stands about 24 to 28 inches high at the shoulder, which is about the same height as a bloodhound. The male gazelle is a bit larger than the female and weighs between 44 and 77 pounds, while the female weighs between 33 and 55 pounds. The male also has bigger, longer, and more robust horns than the female. The horns are beautifully ringed and curved on both sexes.

These animals can be told from other gazelles by their distinctive coat. The colors of the coat range from light tan to reddish-brown and a band of black runs diagonally up from the upper part of the front leg to the upper part of the hind leg, and there are black markings on the rump. The belly and the throat are white. There are two subspecies of Thompson’s gazelle. One is the Eastern and the other is the Serengeti, with the Eastern Thompson’s gazelle being larger.

The Thompson’s gazelle is also known for its great speed. It can reach speeds of between 50 and 60 miles per hour. While escaping predators, it often runs in a zigzag which is hard for the predator to follow. They also practice an action called pronking, where they bounce into the air with all four legs held stiffly. This behavior is supposed to let the predator know that the gazelle will be hard to catch. Still, the gazelle is prey for a variety of animals including cheetahs, hyenas, lions, leopards, crocodiles, baboons, wild dogs, pythons, and even birds of prey.

Where To Find The Top Wild Animals in Malawi

The top animals in Malawi can be found in its national parks and its reserves. The four reserves are the Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve, the Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve, the Majete Wildlife Reserve, and the Mwabvi Wildlife Reserve. The Majete Reserve is notable because it contains what is called the Big Five. These mammals are elephants, buffaloes, leopards, lions, rhinoceros.

Malawi’s national parks include Nyika National Park, Lake Malawi National Park, Kasungu National Park, and Liwonde National Park.

The Most Dangerous Animals In Malawi Today

Malawi, it must be said, has a wealth of dangerous animals. Among them are:

  • Lions — about 250 people a year are killed by lions in Africa
  • Hippopotamus — though they are semi-aquatic herbivores, hippos are notoriously dangerous animals. They are believed to kill 500 people every year in Africa.
  • Buffalo — like hippos, African buffalos are herbivores, and like hippos, they are short-tempered. They’re believed to gore or trample about 200 people to death every year on the continent.
  • Nile Crocodiles — unlike other animals, which attack people to defend themselves or to defend their territory or simply out of annoyance, Nile Crocodiles are believed to have human beings on the menu and hunt them. They kill between 175 and 469 people every year.
  • Mosquitoes — Mosquitoes are vectors for several serious and even deadly diseases, including malaria. There are at last 200 million cases of malaria in Africa alone, which is 92 percent of the worldwide total.

Endangered Animals In Malawi

Unfortunately, there are a number of endangered animals in Malawi. Indeed, wildlife is fairly scarce outside of the country’s parks and reserves. Endangered species include:

Animals are endangered due to poaching, over-hunting, and destruction of their habitat. Humans also kill wildlife that interferes with livestock or agriculture, such as lions and elephants.

Malawian Animals

Aardvark

Can move 2ft of soil in just 15 seconds!

Aardwolf

The aardwolf has five toes on its front paws

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

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 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!

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!

Cicada

Cicadas have one of the longest insect lifespans

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.

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

Eagle

Has exceptional eyesight!

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 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

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

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

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!

Jumping Spider

Some can jump 50 times the length of their bodies

Kingfisher

Inhabits wetlands and woodlands worldwide!

Klipspringer

Klipspringers can jump as high as 10-12ft!

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!

Mozambique Spitting Cobra

Mozambique Spitting Cobra is one of Africa's most dangerous snakes.

Mule

The offspring of a horse and donkey parents!

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.

Nyala

They have a high-pitched alarm call that sounds like a barking dog.

Olive Baboon

Olive baboons will sometimes form strong friendships with each other

Orb Weaver

Females are about four times the size of males

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

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.

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!

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

Snouted Cobra

The snouted cobra, also known as the banded snouted cobra, is one of the most venomous snakes in all of Africa.

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.

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.

Vervet Monkey

Rarely found more than 450m from trees!

Vinegaroon

Vinegaroons can spray 19 times before the glands are depleted

Viper

Vipers are one of the most widespread groups of snakes and inhabit most

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!

White Ferret / Albino Ferrets

There are two different types of white ferrets!

White Rhinoceros

The second largest animal on the land!

Wildebeest

Can trek more than 1,000 miles every year!

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!

Malawian Animals List

Animals in Malawi FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What kind of animals live in Malawi?

A great many types of animals, from birds, mammals, fish, and insects live in Malawi. They are mostly found in wildlife reserves and national parks.

Are there lions in Malawi?

There are lions in Malawi, but they are considered vulnerable.

What is the national bird of Malawi?

The national bird of Malawi is the African fish eagle. This beautiful bird of prey resembles a bald eagle but the white of its head extends to its breast. As its name suggests, it is most often found near bodies of water. It not only eats fish but has been known to eat waterfowl and carrion. Between 25 and 30 inches in length, the bird is smaller than the bald eagle. The African fish eagle mates for life, and females are larger than males. The “vocifer” part of its scientific name, Haliaeetus vocifer, comes from its distinctive, screaming call.