South Africa

Updated: January 27, 2023
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Below you can find a complete guide to the types of animals in South Africa. We currently track 302 animals in South Africa and are adding more every day!

South Africa is among the richest biodiversity hotspots in all of Africa. Located at the southernmost tip of the continent, where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet, the country shares a land border with Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique to the north. It also completely surrounds the tiny kingdom of Lesotho. Central plateaus dominate the interior of South Africa. Meanwhile, the mountainous region known as the Great Escarpment forms the plateau edge and slopes downward toward the oceans.

The Official National (State) Animal of South Africa

The national animal of South Africa is the springbok. This small brown and white antelope is native to South Africa and prevails as the national symbol in post-apartheid thanks to the intervention of Nelson Mandela and the country’s tremendous win at the 1995 Rugby World Cup. South Africa also has a national bird, the blue crane, and a national fish, the galjoen.

Where to Find the Top Wild Animals

Since its independence, South Africa has established 19 national parks to protect its natural beauty and wildlife. Together they comprise about 3% of the country’s total landmass.

  • Kruger National Park, located along the northeastern border with Mozambique, is the oldest and most famous protected area in all of South Africa. It’s also the largest park located entirely within the borders of South Africa. Designated by UNESO as an important biosphere reserve, the park contains some of the most popular wildlife native to South Africa, including elephants, zebras, rhinos, leopards, cheetahs, lions, hyenas, hippos, and antelopes.
  • The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park encompasses some 15,000 square miles of sparse red sand dunes and dry river beds around the Kalahari Desert. Most of the park is actually located on the other side of the border with Botswana. Courageous visitors can expect to find migratory herds of wildebeests, springboks, and elands. Predators also roam the area, including cheetahs, hyenas, and leopards. There are also more than 200 species of birds, including vultures and eagles.
  • The Addo Elephant National Park, located close to Port Elizabeth, is one of the best places on the entire continent to find the magnificent giants amidst other animals, namely lions, rhinos, and leopards. The park also encompasses St. Croix and Bird Island, where visitors can see cute penguins, whales, and even great white sharks in their natural habitat.

Native Birds

South Africa sits at the tip of the continent, encompassing quite a large area of land made up of various environments. The availability of differing climates and habitats allows refuge to almost 1,000 bird species. Avifauna is fun to look for and relatively easy to spot in South Africa, though some species are rare. Here are the top places for birdwatching in the country:

  • Walvis Bay (Namibia) – Holding the place as one of South Africa’s most important wetlands, the bay is shallow and well shielded. Waterfowl, specifically waders and shorebirds, as well as sea birds, fly or roam the shores of the bay. Most commonly seen are greater and lesser flamingoes, chestnut-banded plovers, black-tailed godwits, red-necked phalarope, pelicans, petrels, and skuas. The spot is perfect for spotting palearctic and intra-African migrants from October to April.
  • Okavango Delta (Botswana) – The star of a recent National Geographic documentary, the Okavango Delta is truly one of a kind, branching from the Okavango River in Botswana. Over 500 species of bird occupy this area, most notably the slaty egret, Hartlaub’s babbler, Pel’s fishing owls, white-backed night herons, and lesser jacanas. Commonly seen species include cormorants, kingfishers, and rails. During the rainy season of November to April, many migratory species reside in the delta.
  • Bazaruto Archipelago (Mozambique) – Better known for marine species and scuba diving, the archipelago is also a popular migrational rest stop for exciting avifauna such as lesser sand plovers and grey plovers. Residential species include Narina trogons and African green pigeons, as well as the Madagascar bee-eater which is a rare species on the islands.

The National Parks, Wildlife Management Areas, and Game Reserves of South Africa are always good options for bird watchers. However, there are many other sites that may be underestimated for the unique species found at these spots.

Native Fish

Many fishermen from around the world visit the country to experience the many different styles of fishing offered by South Africa, bordered by two oceans and home to various lakes and waterways. Fishing is not only an exciting pastime, but also allows for unique sightseeing and exploration opportunities.

Freshwater

Freshwater fish commonly caught in lakes and rivers of the country include:

  • Catfish
  • Carp
  • Whitefish
  • Tilapia (locally known as Blue kurper)

For a mix of species, the natural and man-made lakes of Western Cape are a good place to start. Rietvlei is also relatively diverse in catching opportunities. Otherwise, hop over to Gauteng for a peaceful and fruitful spot to catch any of the mentioned species and more.

Bass fishing is also highly encouraged in the country, as conservationists deem the fish as invasive to local waters and a danger to native fish species. Bass range from largemouth and small mouth to spotted bass and are relatively easy to catch.

Potentially most sought after in freshwaters of South Africa are trout, both brown and rainbow, secured by fly fishing, a beloved pastime of fishermen around the world. While the Eastern Cape is quite the setting for productive fly fishing, the Western Cape and mountains pose appealing as well.

Saltwater

Bordered by two large oceans, it’s no surprise that around 15% of marine species worldwide is found in these waters. Coral reefs span the eastern coast, bringing pelagic species close to the shore and more accessible. In places such as Port Shepstone, Wahoo, Tuna, Marlin, Sailfish, Mahi Mahi, and other incredible game species can be caught right from the shoreline. Northern close fishing produces Snoek, Yellowfin Tuna, Kobold, and Elf.

Fishing is primarily allowed with permits in the country and, as Africa is a special place for conservation and preservation, it is important for visiting anglers to respect South African guidelines and regulations.

Native Snakes

Among the plethora of animal species found in South Africa are some more threatening species, though they are a fascination for some. Snakes fall into this category, as several of the species found in the country pose as highly dangerous, while others are non-venomous and avoid humans for the most part. Below are several species of both venomous and non-venomous species listed along with some facts and features.

Venomous

  • Black Mamba – Renowned throughout Africa as the continent’s deadliest snake rightly so, as their neurotoxic venom poses as fatal without treatment. Not commonly found in the Eastern and Western Capes but still present and mostly so in wildlife reserves and parks.
  • Cape Cobra – Preferring dry, arid environments, these dangerous snakes are more common to the western parts of South Africa. Appearing in various colorations, this cobra species does not spit its neurotoxic venom but injects through fangs.
  • Boomslang – Another snake well-known to the continent of Africa as a threat from above, boomslangs inhabit trees and rarely venture to the ground. Adult males are primarily green while females are brown, exhibiting sexual dimorphism.

Non-venomous

  • Brown House Snake – Distinguished by a white stripe running on either side of the head, these snakes are prominent in South African environments ranging from urban and suburban to grasslands and forests. While harmless, these snakes may still bite if startled.
  • Rhombic Egg Eater – These snakes are highly common and not a threat to South African people even though they may resemble other venomous species. A rasping sound can be produced by the snake rubbing its scales together in order to ward off predators.
  • Spotted Bush Snake – The green with black stripes coloration of this small snake let it stand out among other commonly found species in the country. However, when coming upon this species some mistake it as a black mamba or boomslang and kill the shy snake.

Out of the 160 snake species found in South Africa, most are considered not dangerous. However, harmless snakes can still retain teeth bite and strike a painful bite, so maintain respectful boundaries of these magnificent creatures even if deemed not a threat.

Trees Native to South Africa

South Africa has flora and fauna suited to a variety of different climates from desert to subtropical creating a very diverse ecosystem. Even though only 1% of South Africa is considered forest it is filled with a beautiful selection of native trees. Read more on the incredible trees native to South Africa from towering baobabs to butterfly trees.

The Most Dangerous Animals in South Africa Today

South Africa contains its fair share of interesting but dangerous wildlife. Of the 100 species of snakes found here, about a quarter of them are venomous. Many of the world’s largest mammals are also found here.

  • Puff Adder – On account of its widespread distribution, toxic venom, and camouflaged coloring, the puff adder is probably responsible for more attacks than any snake in Africa, especially because it’s so often accidentally stepped on. The symptoms of its venom include pain, swelling, and bleeding, but death only occurs in a small number of untreated cases.
  • Black Mamba – This brown or olive green snake is actually named for its inky-black mouth, which it opens wide as part of its threat display. It’s a good thing that this snake will only tend to strike when cornered or threatened because if left untreated, the venom is often fatal.
  • Hippopotamus – The hippo is responsible for a surprising number of deaths every year, usually as a result of someone accidentally stumbling on its territory. These large and aggressive mammals will take great strides to defend themselves from any perceived threats.
  • Nile Crocodile – With its very powerful jaws and sharp teeth, this common freshwater reptile is responsible for more attacks than almost any other crocodile in the world.
  • Lions – While they are large and formidable, attacks from lions are very rare; they almost always occur from people wandering alone across the wilderness.
  • Rhinoceros – As one of the largest animals with horns, the rhino could easily harm a human, but it will only attack once it feels threatened.

Endangered Animals

As a result of human encroachment, habitat loss, and climate change, many types of South African wildlife is threatened with endangerment or extinction. Most significantly in danger are the following species:

  • Black Rhinoceros – The large and imposing figure of the black rhinoceros, with horns emerging from the head, is one of the great natural sights in all of Africa. But this species is now in critical danger of becoming extinct from habitat loss and (in some countries) being caught in the middle of warfare. As one of the few species with horns, it’s also a target for illegal poachers. Despite strenuous conservation efforts, only a few thousand of them remain, mostly existing in isolated pockets across all of Africa.
  • African Bush Elephant – These large, magnificent creatures are now endangered from illegal poaching, habitat loss, diseases, and even conflicts with humans. It is estimated that some 400,000 remain in the wild.
  • Riverine Rabbit – Native to a small section of the Karoo Desert, this cute rabbit has suffered greatly from habitat loss. With only about 1,500 remaining, it is in critical danger of becoming extinct.
  • Cape Gannet – Sporting black and white plumage and a distinctive yellow crown, this sea bird is native to the coasts of sub-Saharan Africa, but numbers have declined precipitously from their height.
  • Cape Vulture – This scavenging bird has become endangered from poisoning, electrocutions, collisions, and loss of natural foraging habitat. It’s estimated that only about 10,000 mature individuals remain in the wild and are in danger of becoming extinct.

Zoos in South Africa

While many may deem it unnecessary for zoos or aquariums to exist in such a place of natural wonders and animals, the zoos of South Africa are in place to not only educate locals and visitors on native and exotic species but also serve conservation efforts within the area and worldwide. Here are some of the top zoos to visit while in South Africa:

  • Pretoria Zoo (National Zoological Zoo) – Founded in 1899, the zoo has since become the largest in the country, housing roughly 10,000 different species of animals. Pretoria Zoo aims to provide a window into biodiversity of the country while aiding in preservation of important local species. A large aquarium and reptile area also add to the inclusivity of the zoo. Species of the park include mammals such as lemurs, hippopotamuses, and wild dogs, reptiles such as the green mamba and Macklot’s python, and bird species including penguins, ibises, and cape vultures.
  • Lory Park – Lory Park was created by bird and cacti enthusiast, Eddy Van Eck. The park originally began as a bird sanctuary for species within South Africa but quickly grew as other injured or threatened animal species were brought in to be treated and given refuge. Now, the zoo participates in wildlife conservation and restoration in South Africa and is a haven for visitors who desire an up close and personal view of animals as well as interactions with them.

Supporting zoos and other facilities that house animals in a beneficial and supportive way can help further future reintroduction, reestablishment, and conservation of wildlife, as well as their natural habitats.

South African 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 Clawed Frog

A particularly ferocious amphibian!

African Fish Eagle

African fish eagles belong to the genus of sea eagles

African Jacana

The males raise the young

African Penguin

The only penguin species in Africa!

Agama Lizard

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

Albatross

The largest wingspan of any bird in the world!

American Cockroach

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

Angora Goat

Each adult Angora goat produces about 12 inches of mohair annually while kids have about 8 inches.

Ant

First evolved 100 million years ago!

Antelope

Renew their horns every year!

Anteosaurus

Although the Anteosaurus looked like a crocodile, it is more related to mammals than reptiles.

Armadillo Lizard

They communicate through a series of tongue flicking, head bobbing and tail wagging, among other methods.

Armyworm

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

Asian Lady Beetle

Asian lady beetles infest indoor spaces, but they do not reproduce indoors.

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!

Bat-Eared Fox

Bat-eared foxes can run up to 35 MPH!

Bearded Vulture

These birds eat a diet of bones

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.

Brazilian Treehopper

“Mild-Mannered Minimonsters”

Brown-banded Cockroach

Females glue egg cases to furniture

Brown Dog Tick

Can live its entire life indoors

Brown Hyena

They don’t laugh

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.

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

Cape Lion

Despite its large, muscular body, the Cape lion actually rests more than 20 hours a day

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!

Christmas Beetle

Christmas beetles got their common name because they’re most abundant around Christmas time.

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.

Cormorant

They can fly 35 mph and dive 150 feet below water.

Cow

There are nearly 1.5 billion 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!

Crocodylomorph

Crocodylomorphs include extinct ancient species as well as 26 living species today.

Crow

A group of these birds is called a Murder.

Desert Rain Frog

The desert rain frog doesn't hop

Dik-Dik

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

Dinopithecus

The only species currently recognized of this ancient baboon is Dinopithecus ingens.

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

Dusky Shark

The Dusky Shark sometimes eats trash discarded by humans.

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!

European Bee-Eater

They can eat up to 250 bees per day!

European Starling

European starlings are accomplished mimics, often copying songs or sounds of other birds and animals (frog calls, goats, cats), or even mechanical sounds and human speech!

Falcon

The fastest creatures on the planet!

Fallow deer

The fallow deer has more variation in its coat colors than most other deer.

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.

Fire Ball Python

The fire ball python morph is known for its rich golden and reddish-brown coloration.

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

Only 12 species are considered "true foxes"

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

Fulvous Whistling Duck

They build a ramp from their nest, which leads to a nearby water source

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

Giant Trevally

The largest fish in its genus

Giraffe

Long, black tongue can grow to 18 inches long!

Glass Lizard

Can grow up to 4ft long!

Glowworm

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.

Grey Heron

Male grey herons are picky about their mates. They'll reject a female that they don't fancy.

Guinea Fowl

Found in a vairety of African habitats!

Gypsy Moth

One of the most invasive species in the world

Hamster

Able to run as quickly backwards as forwards!

Hare

Can reach speeds of over 50 mph!

Hartebeest

Unlike other animals that move towards the water source, hartebeests move to more arid locations after rainfall.

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!

Horned Adder

Males tend to be more brightly colored than females, and females are significantly bigger than males.

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!

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!

Lesser Jacana

The lesser jacana is nomadic, often moving in search of temporary wetland habitats.

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.

Long-Winged Kite Spider

The long-winged kite spider sets itself apart from other spiny orb-weavers by its elongated spiked protrusions from its sides, giving it the appearance of a pointed kite (its namesake).

Lystrosaurus

Lystrosaurus was one of the few terrestial species that survived the permian extinction

Madora Moth

Mopane worms (larva) only live for 3 - 4 days after evolving into an adult (madora), during which they mate and lay eggss

Maggot

Will only live in wet areas

Magpie

They are found across Europe, Asia and Africa!

Mallard

With an appropriate tail wind, the mallard can travel hundreds of miles a day

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.

Meerkat

One will stand on guard to watch for predators!

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!

Myna Bird

For a nice price, the mynah bird makes a good pet.

Nguni Cattle

Nguni cattle are the most profitable breed for beef farmers.

Night Adder

Night adders are small, slender snakes that, despite the name, are actually most active during the day.

Night Heron

When they feel threatened juvenile night herons vomit their stomach contents.

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

Oranda Goldfish

Oranda goldfish are one of the most popular fancy goldfish breeds

Orb Weaver

Females are about four times the size of males

Oribi

Males oribis spend most of their time patrolling the borders of their territories; they can do this about 16 times an hour! However, 27% of their day is spent grazing.

Osprey

They reuse nesting sites for 70 years!

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

Parakeet

Monk parakeets are the only parakeets that actually build nests. They’re also the only parakeets to nest in great colonies.

Parrot

Can live for up to 100 years!

Perch Fish

Some of the most delicious gamefish in the world

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.

Pyjama Shark

Pyjama Sharks like to swim in shallow inshore waters.

Quagga

The quagga is a subspecies of plains zebra.

Quail

Inhabits woodland and forest areas worldwide!

Rabbit

There are more than 300 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!

Rinkhals Snake

This snake is known for playing dead as a defense against predators.

River Turtle

Inhabits freshwater habitats around the world!

Robin

There are more than 45 species in Australia alone!

Rock Hyrax

Actually related to Elephants and Manatees!

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

Saturniidae Moth

Some of the largest moths in the world

Savanna Goat

Savanna goats have only existed since 1957.

Scorpion

There are around 2,000 known species!

Sea Eagle

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

Sea Snake

The sea snake is incredibly venomous, even more than a cobra!”

Seahorse

Males give birth to up to 1,000 offspring!

Senepol Cattle

Senepol cattle have a distinctive red color and no horns.

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!

Sivatherium

Sivatherium was a large giraffid and also one of the largest ruminants of all-time.

Six-Eyed Sand Spiders

Camouflaged recluse with terrifying venom

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

Smallmouth Bass

A fierce fighter!

Smokybrown Cockroach

Has up to 45 eggs per egg case

Snail

There are nearly 1,000 different species!

Snake

There are around 4,000 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.

Spotted Garden Eel

Males battle each other over females and territory

Springbok

The springbok has a large tuft of hair that emerges from a pouch on the back

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!

Thornback Ray

The skate with the biggest spines!

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!

Turaco

Their name means “banana-eater,” but they rarely ever eat bananas.

Turtles

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

Twig Snake

Twig snakes are among the few rear-fanged colubrids whose bite is highly venomous and potentially fatal.

Vervet Monkey

Rarely found more than 450m from trees!

Vine Snake

A slender body and elongated snout give the vine snake a regal look.

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!

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!

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

Woodlouse Spider

Unlike most spiders, woodlouse spiders don’t build a web.

Woodpecker

There are 200 different species!

Worm

Doesn’t have eyes.

Wryneck

They feign death by making their bodies limp and closing their eyes.

Xerus

Squirrel that lives in burrows in Africa.

Yellow Cobra

The Yellow Cobra belong to one of the most dangerous families in the world.

Yellow Crazy Ant

One of the top 100 worst invasive species!

Zebra

Stripe patterns are unique to each individual!

Zebra Snake

The zebra snake is a black-hooded species of spitting cobra native to several of the southern countries of Africa.

Zebra Spitting Cobra

This snake can spit a distance of nine feet or further!

Zebu

There are around 75 different species!

Zonkey

The offspring of Zebra and Donkey parents!

Zorse

The offspring of a Zebra and Horse parents!

South African Animals List

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About the Author

Growing up in rural New England on a small scale farm gave me a lifelong passion for animals. I love learning about new wild animal species, habitats, animal evolutions, dogs, cats, and more. I've always been surrounded by pets and believe the best dog and best cat products are important to keeping our animals happy and healthy. It's my mission to help you learn more about wild animals, and how to care for your pets better with carefully reviewed products.

South Africa FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What kind of animals live in South Africa?

South Africa is home to quite a few mammals, including rodents, moles, shrews, bats, carnivores, elephants, and hoofed animals (like zebras and antelopes). The country is particularly rich in birds, from penguins to eagles. It also has a lot of snakes.

What animals are unique to South Africa?

The cute riverine rabbit, golden moles, Cape elephant shrew, Cape horseshoe bat, and Cape genet are all unique or mostly unique to South Africa.

What dangerous animals live in South Africa?

South Africa is home to venomous snakes, large crocodiles, carnivorous lions, very aggressive hippos, and even some spiders.

How many animals does South Africa have?

South Africa is home to more than 200 species of mammals, 450 species of reptiles, 130 amphibians, and 800 species of birds.