Below you can find a complete list of French animals. We currently track 146 animals in France and are adding more every day!
France is a large Western European country that shares land borders with Spain, Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and the Atlantic Ocean, English Channel, and the Mediterranean Sea. Before it became a united country, the land was held under the sway of the Romans and the Celts. The French ecosystem is largely composed of forests, plains, and light hills, while several mountain ranges and inactive volcanoes, including the vast Pyrenees and Alps, extend across the southern parts of the country. This article will only cover the wildlife of mainland France and not its overseas territories.
The Official National (State) Animal of France
The official animal of France is the Gallic rooster. The use of this animal actually stems in part from a linguistic accident. The Latin words for rooster and Gaul (the historical region of France in Roman times) were both the same: gallus. Over the centuries, the image of the crowing rooster (featured in the Gospel accounts of the crucifixion of Jesus) became bound up with Catholic symbolism in France. Starting with the French Revolution, it later became an enduring symbol of the republic.
Where to Find the Top Wild Animals in France
France contains 11 national parks and many smaller regional reserves, which encompass more than 10,000 square miles and around 30% of all French land. Here’s a short sample of them.
- The Pyrenees National Park, located near the border with Spain, is a mountainous area from which you can see frogs, minks, golden eagles, vultures, the unique desman, and even the elusive bear.
- The Landes de Gascogne Regional Natural Park encompasses pine forests, wetlands, and coastlines just south of Bordeaux, where the Leyre River merges with the Arcachon Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. It contains more than 300 migrating birds, including spoonbills, godwits, pintails, and graylag goose.
- The Mercantour National Park, located slightly to the north of Nice in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, is home to lots of wild boar, rock ptarmigans, nutcracker birds, and bearded vultures.
- The Armorique Natural Regional Park is a protected area in Brittany that extends from the coast of the Atlantic Ocean to the hilly rural interior. Here you can find otters, beavers, and interesting birds of prey in the hills, beaches, and swamps.
- Other interesting wildlife refuges include the Vanoise National Park in the Rhône-Alpes region, Le Perche Natural Regional Park in Normandy, the Auvergne des Volcans Natural Regional Park in Auvergne, and the Cévennes National Park in Languedoc-Roussillon.
The Most Dangerous Animals in France Today
France is home to a few venomous animals that may pose a risk to people’s health.
- Asp Viper – A relatively long snake with grey, brown, and black skin, the asp viper is native to an unbroken stretch of territory between Spain and Italy. The snake is not particularly aggressive, but symptoms of its potent venom include pain, dizziness, blurred vision, and tissue death. Approximately 4% of all untreated bites eventually prove to be fatal.
- Common European Adder – While not exactly the most toxic snake, this adder is quite common throughout Europe, and so bites happen on a frequent basis. Symptoms of its bite include intense pain, swelling, tingling, and blistering. Rarely, victims may experience nausea, vomiting, fever, loss of consciousness, and more. Complete cardiovascular failure may occur in very rare cases.
- Portuguese man o’ war – Sometimes found off the coast of France, this unique jellyfish has a powerful sting that can cause painful red welts on the skin. Fever, cardiac distress, difficulty breathing, and even death can rarely occur.
Endangered Animals in France
While the French government does make a considerable effort to protect many endangered species, several animals are still at risk of becoming extinct:
- European Rabbit – This species is endemic to southern France and the Iberian Peninsula (one particular subspecies of the European rabbit is only found in the marshes of Camargue). It was later introduced into other parts of the world, where it had a negative effect on some local wildlife. However, this species is endangered in its original habitat from a combination of overhunting, habitat loss, and diseases.
- Mehely’s Horseshoe Bat – This species of bat prefers to roost in limestone caves near large bodies of water. However, the disturbances and destruction of its roosting sites have caused numbers to decline. It is not known whether this species is extinct in France.
- Pyrenean Desman – Closely related to the moles and shrews, the desman is a small semi-aquatic mammal with a long snout, a long, flattened tail, and sharp claws for digging. While this unique species is still listed as vulnerable by the IUCN Red List, the desman is very rare in France. It only lives in the Pyrenees Mountains near the border with Spain.
- Iberian Lynx – This wild cat species was more common across southwest Europe in the 20th century. But overhunting, habitat loss, disease, and the decline of its main prey have all conspired to make the Iberian lynx endangered. It may now be completely extinct from mainland France.
French Animals List
- Barn Owl
- Basset Fauve de Bretagne
- Bichon Frise
- Black Widow Spider
- Brown Bear
- Common Buzzard
- Common Frog
- Common Loon
- Common Toad
- Dogue De Bordeaux
- Edible Frog
- Epagneul Pont Audemer
- Fallow deer
- Fire-Bellied Toad
- Fire salamander
- Flying Squirrel
- French Bulldog
- Glass Lizard
- Glow Worm
- Golden Oriole
- Great Pyrenees
- Highland Cattle
- Honey Bee
- Long-Eared Owl
- Marsh Frog
- Peregrine Falcon
- Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen
- Pike Fish
- Pond Skater
- Pool Frog
- Purple Emperor Butterfly
- Puss Moth
- Raccoon Dog
- River Turtle
- Sand Lizard
- Slow Worm
- Snowy Owl
- Spadefoot Toad
- Stag Beetle
- Stick Insect
- Tawny Owl
- Toy Poodle
- Tree Frog
- Water Buffalo
- Water Vole
- Wild Boar
- Wolf Spider
Animals in France FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
What animals live in France?
France is particularly rich in rodents, shrews, moles, bats, deer, boar, carnivores (like badgers and weasels), song birds and water birds, insects, freshwater fish, and some species of frogs. Whales and dolphins can sometimes be seen off the coast as well.
What is the most dangerous animal in France?
The most dangerous animal is probably the asp viper. If left untreated, about 4% of bites can eventually prove fatal.
What is the biggest animal in France?
The largest animal in all of France is the brown bear. Weighing an impressive 300 to 500 pounds, they are restricted to the far south of the country in the relatively isolated Pyrenees Mountains. Some people may be frightened of brown bears, but unless the animal feels threatened, attacks on people are incredibly rare.