Below you can find a complete list of French animals. We currently track 247 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.
Rivers in France
France is home to hundreds of rivers and streams cutting across its countryside. While rivers like the Seine and the Rhône are most famous internationally, the country is also home to a number of other rivers with stunning natural settings and wildlife. Let’s take a peek at some notable rivers in France:
- Loire River – Home to 165 species of birds (64% of nesting bird species in France) and 57 species of fish.
- Garonne River – The last remaining breeding grounds for the critically endangered European sea sturgeon.
- Dordogne Rover – Features wildlife like sturgeons, salmon, otters, swans, cormorants, egrets, and kingfishers.
Alpine goats are the most common type of goat used for milk, cheese, and other dairy products
First evolved 100 million years ago!
They are so named because they "march" in armies of worms from one crop to another in search of food
It was the symbol of royalty in Egypt, and its bite was used for the execution of favored criminals in Greco-Roman times.
Extinct ancestor of all domesticated cattle!
Has a curved, upturned beak!
Can reach speeds of 30 km/h!
This dog has the nickname ‘Mud dog’ because it likes to play in muddy, swamp-like areas.
Found everywhere around the world!
Older offspring help care for new hatchlings.
A friendly and intelligent hunting dog that loves nothing more than to spend time with its owner.
Detects prey using echolocation!
The Beauceron is named after the place of its origin (Beauce) in France
Builds a dam from sticks and leaves!
Bed bugs feed for 4-12 minutes.
Rock paintings of bees date back 15,000 years
There are more than 350,000 different species
Berger means shepherd in French
Gentle mannered, playful and affectionate!
Not all birds are able to fly!
The biscuit beetle form a symbiotic relationship with yeast
They typically prey on insects!
They migrate for the longest distance of any warbler.
The Blue Picardy is also known as the Epagneul Bleu de Picardie in French
The name Bouvier des Flandres means cowherd of Flanders in French
The breed was formerly known as the Brittany spaniel
Females glue egg cases to furniture
A dominant predator in it's environment!
Can live its entire life indoors
The most common species of bee!
There are thought to be up 17,500 species!
The camel crickets that are found in the USA are light brown in color. They also have dark streaks all over their body.
Carpenter ants can lift up to seven times their own weight with their teeth!
First domesticated by the Ancient Egyptians!
The larvae of a moth or butterfly!
There are nearly 3,000 different species!
There are about 3,000 documented species!
Natively found in the European mountains!
First domesticated more than 10,000 years ago!
Cicadas have one of the longest insect lifespans
This vulture can fly at great heights. At least one was found a few thousand feet from the top of Mount Everest.
Dated to be around 300 million years old!
Pupae are able to undergo diapause to survive poor fruit yield years and winter.
The most common raptor in the UK!
European adders are the only snake that lives above the Arctic Circle.
Found throughout the European continent!
The common furniture beetle feeds exclusively on wood
House spiders have the ability to eat most insects in a home.
Also known as the Great Northern Diver
A group of ravens is called an unkindness or a conspiracy.
Most active in wet weather!
There are nearly 1.5 million worldwide!
There are 93 different crab groups
Crab Spiders can mimic ants or bird droppings
Many are critically endangered species!
Male crickets can produce sounds by rubbing their wings together
A group of these birds is called a Murder.
Can survive drought by burying itself in mud.
The adult deathwatch beetle taps on the wood to find a mate.
There are around 40 different species!
The Devil’s coach horse beetle can emit a noxious substance to deter predators
First domesticated in South-East Asia!
Dog ticks feed on dogs and other mammals
Extremely loyal and devoted to it's master!
First domesticated 5,000 years ago!
Found in Europe, Africa and Asia!
It's larvae are carnivorous!
Rows of tiny plates line their teeth!
The dung beetle can push objects many times its own weight
Has exceptional eyesight!
They are hermaphrodites, which means they have male and female organs
There are nearly 2,000 different species!
Are known to guard the muddy banks!
Eels can be a mere few inches long to 13 feet!
Hard-working, gentle and affectionate!
A very bold and ferocious predator!
Eats 20% of its weight daily!
The Eurasian jay has the ability to mimic other sounds
Eurasian lynxes can survive extreme weather up to elevations of 18,000 feet
They can eat up to 250 bees per day!
Female can lay up to 600 eggs in her 14-day lifespan
Male robins are so aggressive and territorial that they will attack their own reflections.
A group of wild cats is called a destruction
The fastest creatures on the planet!
The fallow deer has more variation in its coat colors than most other deer.
False spiders actually prey on black widow spiders and other hazardous spiders
The Most Dangerous Snake in the Americas
Ferrets can be trained to do tricks like dogs!
Found across mainland Europe and Asia!
Its name comes from the fact that people once believed it was born in fire
The firefly produces some of the most efficient light in the world
Adult fleas can jump up to 7 inches in the air
There are more than 240,000 different species!
Can glide up to 90 meters!
There are 12 different species in the world!
French bulldogs are known to be very sensitive, harboring emotions that they love to express
There are around 7,000 different species!
Fruit flies are among the most common research animals in the world
The Genet has retractable claws like a cat
The most common type of urban roach
Found inhabiting dense woodland and caves!
Males form large mating swarms at dusk
Most closely related to the Sheep!
Migrates between Europe and Asia!
There are 29 different species!
There are 11,000 known species!
Male grey herons are picky about their mates. They'll reject a female that they don't fancy.
Can spot a dead animal from thousands of feet away
Able to run as quickly backwards as forwards!
Can reach speeds of over 40 mph!
Many hawk moth caterpillars eat toxins from plants, but don’t sequester them the way milkweed butterflies do. Most toxins are excreted.
Thought to be one of the oldest mammals on Earth!
Inhabits wetlands around the world!
Natively found in the Scottish Highlands!
There are only 8 recognized species!
Honey buzzards are medium-sized raptors that earned their names by raiding the nests of bees and wasps.
Stunning bird with a stinky way to deter predators!
Has evolved over 50 million years!
Horseflies have been seen performing Immelmann turns, much like fighter jets.
Thought to have orignated 200,000 years ago!
Some huntsman spiders have an interesting way of moving around. Some cartwheel while others do handsprings or backflips.
Can jump over 6 feet straight up from a standstill
There are an estimated 30 million species!
The jackdaw tends to mate for life with a single partner
Some can jump 50 times the length of their bodies
Inhabits wetlands and woodlands worldwide!
There are more than 5,000 species worldwide!
Lazarus Lizards can communicate through chemical and visual signals.
Does not hibernate during the bitter Arctic winter!
There are around 5,000 different species!
Have sharp spines below their eyes
Each locust can eat its weight in plants each day.
Ear tufts make it look bigger!
Often hangs upside down while feeding!
They are found across Europe, Asia and Africa!
A marmot spends 80% of its life below ground
There are 2,500 known species worldwide!
They have a symbiotic relationship with ants.
Some species have a poisonous bite!
Primarily hunts and feeds on Earthworms!
Adult Mole crickets may fly as far as 5 miles during mating season and are active most of the year.
Has characteristics of two or more breeds!
Feeds on aquatic insects and water-spiders!
Only the female mosquito actually sucks blood
There are 250,000 different species!
Found on every continent on Earth!
The offspring of a horse and donkey parents!
The muskrat can stay underwater up to 17 minutes at a time
Roamed Asia and Europe for around 100,000 years!
Able to regrow lost or damaged limbs!
Named more than 1,000 years ago!
There are more than 5,000 species.
Females are about four times the size of males
The tradition of hiding your face with a napkin or towel while eating this bird was begun by a priest who was a friend of the great French gastronome Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin.
There are 13 different species worldwide
The owl can rotate its head some 270 degrees
Originally called the Toy Spaniel, the Papillon is one of the oldest breeds in the toy group. They can be found in artwork dating back to the 16th century.
Monk parakeets are the only parakeets that actually build nests. They’re also the only parakeets to nest in great colonies.
A small dog with a big, lively personality.
Females lay between 8 and 12 eggs per clutch!
Thought to have been domesticated in 9,000 BC!
They can find their way back to their nests from up to 1300 miles away.
Found in mountainous regions and rocky areas
Apex freshwater predators with fearsome teeth!
A pine marten can jump from tree to tree similar to a squirrel.
There are 500 different species!
Intelligent, alert and active!
The rarest amphibian in the UK!
There are 30 different species worldwide!
The mantis can turn its head 180 degrees.
The pugapoo is the fusion of a pug and a poodle.
Inhabits deciduous forests!
Caterpillars squirt formic acid!
Inhabits woodland and forest areas worldwide!
There are more than 50 different species!
Known to wash their food before eating it!
The only hibernating canine!
Omnivores that eat anything!
Rat snakes are constrictors from the Colubridae family of snakes.
This bird moves its tail to steer its body like a rudder on a boat.
Inhabits freshwater habitats around the world!
There are more than 45 species in Australia alone!
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.
The roe is one of the most popular game animals in Europe
Will mate with the entire flock!
Ferrets were used during the Revolutionary War to keep down the rat population.
There are more than 700 different species!
The sand crab burrows beneath the sand with its tail
Males turn green in spring!
There are around 2,000 known species!
The sea eagle tends to mate for life with a single partner
Males give birth to up to 1,000 offspring!
Around 35 million in the English countryside!
The spinal column of the shrew Scutisorex somereni is so strong and reinforced that it can support the weight of an adult human.
There are 2,000 different species worldwide!
Some skinks lay eggs in some habitats while giving birth to skinklets in other habitats.
Found widely throughout British gardens!
They glide around on one foot, which is aided by the slime they produce
Has up to 45 eggs per egg case
There are nearly 1,000 different species!
There are around 3,000 known species worldwide
One of the largest owl species in the world!
A male song thrush can have over 100 phrases in his repertoire of songs and can imitate pet birds, telephones and other man-made objects.
They spend most of their time underground!
There are 140 different species!
They prey on spiders to feed their larvae or they parasitize other spider wasps.
Small rodents found in woodlands worldwide!
The stag beetle consumes rotting and decaying wood when it is in the larva stage.
There are more than 3,000 different species!
Average adults weigh about 200 grams!
They can’t sing like other birds.
Populations have been affected by pollution!
The most widespread owl in Europe!
Their mounds can be up to 9 meters tall!
The American robin is called the robin because its red breast reminded European settlers of the robin back in the old country.
They inject hosts with a chemical that stops them from feeling the pain of the bite
The adult tiger beetle is one of the fastest land insects in the world
The bright colors of this moth are a signal to predators that it has a terrible taste.
Can live until they are more than 150 years old!
The word poodle is derived from German, and it means to splash or puddle.
Found in warmer jungles and forests!
Some species of aquatic turtles can get up to 70 percent of their oxygen through their butt.
There are 30 different species worldwide!
There are around 75,000 recognised species!
Has been domesticated for thousands of years!
The largest Vole species in the UK!
The smallest carnivorous mammal in the world!
There are two different types of white ferrets!
Males have a top tusk to sharpen the bottom one!
A Wirehaired Pointing Griffon’s coat makes it look like it has a mustache and beard!
Thought to date back more than 300,000 years!
Carnivorous arachnid that hunts its prey.
This animal can roll up into a ball
Unlike most spiders, woodlouse spiders don’t build a web.
There are 200 different species!
The woolly rhinoceros roamed the earth between three and a half million and 14,000 years ago.
French Animals List
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.