Animals in Japan

Below you can find a complete list of Japanese animals. We currently track 155 animals in Japan and are adding more every day!

For more than a millennium, the outside world has referred to Japan as “the land of the rising sun.” This Asian nation is made up of large and small islands along the Pacific Rim.

Japan is home to fascinating creatures, some of which inspired the mythology and legends of the land. Keep reading to learn more about Japan’s rare and unique animals.

Japanese Wildlife Summary

Japan’s islands cover a wide variety of habitats and climate zones. In fact, Japan’s southernmost islands, including Okinawa, have a hot, humid, subtropical climate, while the northernmost island of Hokkaido has long, cold winters and cool summers.

This means that the country’s unique wildlife also varies greatly. There are large mammals such as bears, unique seagoing mammals like the dugong, and a few rare and amazing animals you may have never hear of – raccoon dogs, giant salamanders, cute snow monkeys, and island wildcats.

The Official National Animal

What animals are Japan’s national symbols? The so-called snow monkey, the Japanese macaque (Macaca fuscata), is Japan’s national animal.

Japan also has a national bird – the Japanese pheasant or green pheasant (Phasianus versicolor).

Where To Find The Top Wild Animals in Japan

Snow monkeys are the top animal to see during your visit to Japan. They can be found at Jigokudani Yaen Kōen snow monkey park in Nagano Prefecture. The best time to see them is during the winter, December through March when snow is on the ground.

Would you like to see bears in Japan? check out the Kuma Bokujo bear park in Noboribetsu, Hokkaido. They can be found there year-round.

Scuba diving and snorkeling are popular activities in the warm southern waters. You may see tropical fish or even some of Japan’s aquatic mammals.

The Most Dangerous Animals in Japan Today

You should always give wildlife plenty of space. This is true for its two bear species. The wild boar has also been known to bite and give chase. If you see these animals in the wild, keep a safe distance.

A number of venomous snakes live in this country. These include the Japanese pit viper or Mamushi and the Okinawan habu. Bites from giant centipedes and redback spiders, as well as giant hornet stings, can be dangerous and may require medical attention.

Endangered Animals in Japan

Japan is home to a number of rare species endangered or becoming extinct. These include the Japanese short-tailed bat, Southeast Asian long-fingered bat, Bonin flying fox, Amami rabbit, Tokunoshima and Ryuku spiny rats, Ryukus Islands tree rat, Etigo mole, Orii’s shrew, Izu tit, Okinawa rail, Yanbaru long-armed scarab beetle, sword-tailed newt, Anderson’s crocodile newt, Ryuku leaf turtle, Sakishima grass lizard, banded ground gecko, Hakuba and Oita salamanders, Holst’s frog, greater and Okinawa tip-nosed frogs, and the Amami Oshima frog.

Japanese Animals

Ainu

An innate sense of direction!

Akita

Very clean, intelligent and loyal!

Ant

First evolved 100 million years ago!

Antelope

Renew their horns every year!

Asian Giant Hornet

The largest wasp in the world!

Asiatic Black Bear

Known to eat 160 different tree-borne fruits in Thailand!

Aurochs

Extinct ancestor of all domesticated cattle!

Barb

There are over 2,000 known species!

Barn Owl

Found everywhere around the world!

Barn Swallow

Older offspring help care for new hatchlings.

Bat

Detects prey using echolocation!

Bear

There are 8 different species!

Beetle

There are more than 350,000 different species

Bird

Not all birds are able to fly!

Black Widow Spider

They typically prey on insects!

Bumblebee

The most common species of bee!

Butterfly

There are thought to be up 20,000 species!

Camel Cricket

The camel crickets that are found in the USA are light brown in color. They also have dark streaks all over their body.

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!

Chicken

First domesticated more than 10,000 years ago!

Chinese Geese

They are excellent “guard geese”

Cockroach

Dated to be around 300 million years old!

Common Buzzard

The most common raptor in the UK!

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!

Crocodile

Have changed little in 200 million years!

Deer

There are around 40 different species!

Dog

First domesticated in South-East Asia!

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!

Earwig

There are nearly 2,000 different species!

Eel

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

Falcon

The fastest creatures on the planet!

Fire-Bellied Toad

Found across mainland Europe and Asia!

Fly

There are more than 240,000 different species!

Flying Squirrel

Can glide up to 90 meters!

Fox

There are 12 different species in the world!

Frog

There are around 7,000 different species!

Gecko

There are thought to be over 2,000 species!

Gerbil

Originally known as the Desert Rat!

Giant Salamander

Cryptobranchus giant salamanders breathe mostly through their skin.

Glass Lizard

Can grow up to 4ft long!

Glow Worm

Found inhabiting dense woodland and caves!

Goat

Most closely related to the Sheep!

Golden Oriole

Migrates between Europe and Asia!

Goose

There are 29 different species!

Grasshopper

There are 11,000 known species!

Green Bee-Eater

Mainly eats honeybees!

Hamster

Able to run as quickly backwards as forwards!

Hare

Can reach speeds of over 40 mph!

Hedgehog

Thought to be one of the oldest mammals on Earth!

Heron

Inhabits wetlands around the world!

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.

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.

Ibis

Found in swamps, marshes and wetlands!

Insects

There are an estimated 30 million species!

Japanese Beetle

Can clear an entire fruit tree in 15 minutes in a swarm

Japanese Chin

Alert, intelligent and independent!

Japanese Macaque

Has cheek pouches for storing food!

Japanese Spitz

The Japanese Spitz is sometimes referred to as a cloud dog.

Japanese Squirrel

The Japanese squirrel hoards its food for the winter

Japanese Terrier

Japanese Terriers are also called Nippon Terriers

Kai Ken

Kai Ken are a very rare breed of dog from Japan, though pure breeds are even harder to come by.

Kingfisher

Inhabits wetlands and woodlands worldwide!

Ladybug

There are more than 5,000 species worldwide!

Liger

The offspring of a lion and tiger parents!

Lizard

There are around 5,000 different species!

Locust

Each locust can eat its weight in plants each day.

Long-Eared Owl

Ear tufts make it look bigger!

Magpie

They are found across Europe, Asia and Africa!

Mallard

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

Masked Palm Civet

Found throughout Asia, India and China!

Mayfly

There are 2,500 known species worldwide!

Millipede

Some species have a poisonous bite!

Mole

Primarily hunts and feeds on Earthworms!

Mole Cricket

Adult Mole crickets may fly as far as 5 miles during mating season and are active most of the year.

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!

Moth

There are 250,000 different species!

Mouse

Found on every continent on Earth!

Mule

The offspring of a horse and donkey parents!

Neanderthal

Roamed Asia and Europe for around 100,000 years!

Newt

Able to regrow lost or damaged limbs!

Nightingale

Named more than 1,000 years ago!

No See Ums

There are more than 5,000 species.

Otter

There are 13 different species worldwide

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!

Peregrine Falcon

Fastest animal on Earth

Pheasant

Females lay between 8 and 12 eggs per clutch!

Pig

Thought to have been domesticated in 9,000 BC!

Pigeon

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

Pika

Found in mountainous regions and rocky areas

Pond Skater

There are 500 different species!

Porcupine

There are 30 different species worldwide!

Quail

Inhabits woodland and forest areas worldwide!

Rabbit

There are more than 50 different species!

Raccoon Dog

The only hibernating canine!

Rat

Omnivores that eat anything!

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.

Salamander

There are more than 700 different species!

Scorpion

There are around 2,000 known species!

Seahorse

Males give birth to up to 1,000 offspring!

Sheep

Around 35 million in the English countryside!

Shiba Inu

Shiba Inus are one of six native dog breeds from Japan.

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.

Slow Worm

Found widely throughout British gardens!

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.

Spotted Lanternfly

The spotted lanternfly is often confused for a moth, but it’s actually a type of planthopper

Squirrel

Small rodents found in woodlands worldwide!

Stick Insect

There are more than 3,000 different species!

Stoat

Average adults weigh about 200 grams!

Swan

Populations have been affected by pollution!

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.

Tortoise

Can live until they are more than 150 years old!

Tree Frog

Found in warmer jungles and forests!

Uguisu

Their guano is used in face creams!

Vulture

There are 30 different species worldwide!

Wasp

There are around 75,000 recognised species!

Water Buffalo

Has been domesticated for thousands of years!

Water Dragon

Spends most of it's time in the trees!

Weasel

The smallest carnivorous mammal in the world!

White Tiger

None have been seen in the wild for 50 years!

Wild Boar

Males have a top tusk to sharpen the bottom one!

Wolf

Thought to date back more than 300,000 years!

Wolf Spider

Carnivorous arachnid that hunts its prey.

Wood Turtle

Temperature determines the sex of turtle eggs

Woodlouse

Actually a crustacean, not an insect!

Woodpecker

There are 200 different species!

Zebu

There are around 75 different species!

Japanese Animals List

Animals in Japan FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What Is Japan's Most Famous Animal?

It could be argued that Japan’s most famous animals are those of mythology. The Japanese dragon has a serpentine shape, likely based on sea snakes. Other myths speak of fox spirits that can transform into humans.

Many of these animal spirits are reflected in anime and other media. For example, the cute characters of the Pokémon franchise, such as Pikachu, could be said to be Japan’s most famous animals. Some of these creatures, like Ninetails, are based on animals of myth, which are in turn based on real animals. Others were derived directly from childhood experiences catching bugs in Japan. All embody the cute ideals of kawaii art.

What Kinds of Animals Live in Japan?

Japan is home to about 130 mammal species. The largest are the Ussuri brown bear (Ursus arctos) and the Asian black bear (U. thibetanus).

The Japanese macaque lives farther north than any other monkey in the world. It is often referred to as a snow monkey, famous for bathing in natural hot springs to stay warm during winter snows.

Japan is also home to a few very unique small to medium-sized mammals. One is the raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides). It is a canine, related to the fox, but its markings resemble those of the North American raccoon. There are also two wildcats, the leopard cat and the Iriomote cat. Each of these housecat-sized wildcats lives only on a single island.

Other familiar mammals include the red fox, the Japanese marten, sika and Japanese serow deer, and wild boar. Unique ocean-dwelling mammals include the Steller’s sea lion, dugong, and finless porpoise.

Over 600 species of bird have been seen in Japan. These include red-crowned cranes, Japanese woodpeckers, copper pheasants, green pheasants, the Okinawa rail, the Izu thrush, and the Bonin white-eye. Like the wildcats, some of these birds are endemic to only a single island or a few small islands.

There are about 73 species of reptiles and 40 amphibians in Japan. The Japanese giant salamander is one of the largest amphibians in the world. Sea turtles and sea snakes may be seen in coastal waters. The tropical islands are home to several species of viper, and non-venomous snakes, lizards, and freshwater turtles are found throughout Japan. The Chinese alligator has been spotted in Japan, and fossil evidence has been found of an extinct crocodilian called Toyotamaphimeia machikanensis.

More than 3,000 types of freshwater and saltwater fish have been observed in Japan.

What is Japan's Animal Symbol?

The snow monkey or Japanese macaque is Japan’s national animal.

But many people also see the animals of the zodiac as symbols of Japan. The zodiac includes twelve animals: the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, and boar.