Animals in Norway

Updated: October 7, 2022
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A coastal Scandinavian country, Norway — officially the Kingdom of Norway — is awash in wildlife. Farms carpet the lower mainland, while high mountains, lakes, tundras, rivers, wetlands, and a sea coast cover the rest. Skerries and fjords provide additional marine ecosystems where  thousands of Norway animals make their homes.

Further below, you’ll find a complete list of Norwegian animals. We currently track 236 animals in Norway and add more daily!

Norway Geography

Norway is a long, thin country in Europe’s Scandinavian region. Its territory extends north of the Arctic Circle and 32 percent of the mainland sits above the treeline. Verdant agricultural lands blanket the southern mainland, and the Scandinavian Mountains run up the nation’s spine.

Svalbard, an archipelago midway between Norway and the North Pole in the Arctic Ocean, is also part of Norway. First used as a whaling base in the 1600s and 1700s, it’s an important breeding ground for seabirds, and more polar bears live on the islands than people. A conservation haven, Svalbard has seven national parks, 23 nature preserves, and 60 percent is covered in glaciers. 

Norway’s Animals

Though the number is constantly in flux since scientists make new discoveries yearly, about 21,311 species spend time in Norway. Some live in the Scandinavian country year round; others come for the summer.

Norway Species Breakdown

  • Birds: 526
  • Insects: 16,000
  • Fresh-water Fish: 45
  • Fresh-water Invertebrates: 1,000
  • Mammals: 90
  • Marine Fish: 150
  • Marine Invertebrates: 3,500

Norway Animals: Avifauna

According to the last count of the Norwegian Ornithological Society, 525 avifauna species — aka bird species — whizz through Norway’s friendly skies. Additionally, eBird added one more to the list in 2018, making the current number 526. Many birds only spend the summer months in Norway and head to southern Europe and North Africa for the winter.

Of the 526 bird species in Norway, 244 are accidental and four were introduced by humans, including the Mandarin duck.

One of Norway’s standout birds is the Atlantic puffin. With their long, colorful beaks and clownish faces, the distinct birds look like they came from the mind of Barry Leighton-Jones. To catch a glimpse, head to Vesteralen between early June and mid August when 300,000 of them flock for breeding season.    

Norway is also home to the white-tailed eagle, which almost went extinct in the 1800s. But thanks to successful conservation efforts, the majestic bird has made a comeback. Today, the best place to see them is the Gjesvaestappen Nature Reserve.

A Nod to Brigadier Sir Nils Olav III: Decorated Military Penguin

Nils Olav is a distinguished member of the Norwegian King’s Guard — and he’s a penguin

In 1972, to commemorate the first successful South Pole expedition led by a Norwegian, the country’s King’s Guard adopted a King Penguin from the Edinburgh Zoo and named him Nils Olav. At first, the flightless bird held the rank of lance corporal. Since then, Nils Olav — of which there have been three to date — has climbed the ranks. Today, his official title is Brigadier Sir Nils Olav III!

Norway Animals: Mammals

Norway is filled with large, hooved mammals like moose and deer, in addition to the largest animal in the country, elk — or “elg” as it’s said in Norwegian. 

Muskox are also plentiful in northern regions, and if you happen upon the cloven ungulates, with their long, shaggy coats and stubby horns, you’ll better understand why they’re known as “ugly moose.” People with sensitive noses should stay away from muskox during mating season when males emit a pungent pheromone to attract the ladies. The stench may smell divine to female muskox, but a lot of humans find the odor overpowering.

Reindeer are also native to Norway. Some live domesticated lives in Sami villages; other populations roam wild in Randone and Hardangervidda National Parks. 

Eurasian lynxes, with their spike tufts of ear hair, are the only big cats in Norway.

Other Common Mammals in Norway

Norway Animals: Marine Mammals

Scores of large marine mammals make their homes in Norway’s oceans. Six seal species and 30 whale ones — including white, beaked, sperm, and baleen — can be spotted off the Norwegian coast. Dolphins and porpoise are also plentiful in the region.

When is the best time to go whale watching in Norway? Between late May and mid September.

Norway Animals: Reptiles and Amphibians

Being so far north, Norway isn’t filled with reptiles and amphibians — but it does have some. Six terrestrial reptile and six amphibian species reside within Norway’s borders. From time to time, leatherback sea turtles, the largest extant turtles, hoist themselves onto coastal beaches, and loggerhead sea turtles, which can weigh up to 1,000 pounds — occasionally waddle onto shore.

Northern crested newts, which resemble mini stegosauruses during mating season, can also be found in Norway.

Endangered Animals in Norway

The Norwegian Red List details 2,355 Critically Endangered, Endangered, and Vulnerable species, in addition to 1,235 listed as Near Threatened, including:

Global warming and habitat destruction are the two biggest threats for Norway’s endangered animals.

National Animal of Norway

Officially, Norway has several national animals.

  • The moose is the main national animal of Norway.
  • The lion is Norway’s national royal animal. Denmark’s current ruling family is the House of Glücksburg, and Harald V is the current king.
  • White-throated dippers are the country’s national bird.
  • Fjord horses are the nation’s national horse.

What Dangerous Animals Are in Norway?

Unlike Australia, which has venomous animals everywhere, there are few dangerous animals in Norway. That said, the country’s large mammals — like moose and elk — are capable of doing severe damage by ramming targets if provoked.

Polar bears are also dangerous. The apex predators can outrun humans and behead us with a single swipe of their lethal paws! In the Norwegian territory of Svalbard, polar bears are such a common sight that anyone traveling outside of settlements is required to have appropriate means of frightening polar bears. The government recommends carrying a firearm. 

Are there Mountain Lions in Norway?

A common question from travelers is whether mountain lions are in Norway. Mountain lions do not live in Norway as they’re found exclusively in the Americas. Norway does have some large predators, such as brown bears, lynxes, and wolverines. The wolf population of Norway is estimated at about 100 wolves and lives along the Swedish border and in designated zones in the southeast of the country. 

Norway Animals FAQ

Are There Predators in Norway?

Yes. Recognized wildlife predators live in Norway, including brown bears, polar bears, Eurasian lynxes, wolverines — which can take down animals twice its size — and wolves.

Are There Venomous Snakes in Norway?

Yes. There are two types of venomous snakes in Norway: the common European viper and the adder.

Do Norwegian People Eat Moose?

Yes! Norwegian people are big into moose meat, and they love moose burgers!

Norwegian Animals

Angelshark

The angelshark’s range has contracted by more than 80% in the past century.

Ant

First evolved 100 million years ago!

Arctic Char

Arctic char is the northern-most fish; no other fish lives anywhere further north!

Arctic Fox

Extremely thick winter fur!

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.

Aurochs

Extinct ancestor of all domesticated cattle!

Avocet

Has a curved, upturned beak!

Badger

Can reach speeds of 30 km/h!

Barn Owl

Found everywhere around the world!

Barn Swallow

Older offspring help care for new hatchlings.

Bat

Detects prey using echolocation!

Beaver

Builds a dam from sticks and leaves!

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

Bird

Not all birds are able to fly!

Biscuit Beetle

The biscuit beetle form a symbiotic relationship with yeast

Black Widow Spider

They typically prey on insects!

Brown-banded Cockroach

Females glue egg cases to furniture

Brown Bear

A dominant predator in it's environment!

Brown Dog Tick

Can live its entire life indoors

Bumblebee

The most common species of bee!

Butterfly

There are thought to be up 17,500 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.

Caribou

Males and females grow antlers

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!

Cave Bear

Cave bears may have been worshiped by primitive humans.

Centipede

There are about 3,000 documented species!

Chamois

Natively found in the European mountains!

Chicken

First domesticated more than 10,000 years ago!

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 European Adder

European adders are the only snake that lives above the Arctic Circle.

Common Frog

Found throughout the European continent!

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.

Common Loon

Also known as the Great Northern Diver

Common Raven

A group of ravens is called an unkindness or a conspiracy.

Common Toad

Most active in wet weather!

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

Crow

A group of these birds is called a Murder.

Deer

There are around 40 different species!

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

Dunker

A friendly and relaxed dog!

Eagle

Has exceptional eyesight!

Earthworm

They are hermaphrodites, which means they have male and female organs

Earwig

There are nearly 2,000 different species!

Edible Frog

Are known to guard the muddy banks!

Eel

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

Eider

Eiders are sexually dimorphic, with males being larger and more colorful.

Ermine

A very bold and ferocious predator!

Eurasian Bullfinch

The shy eurasian bullfinch prefers to forage very close to cover.

Eurasian Jay

The Eurasian jay has the ability to mimic other sounds

Eurasian Nuthatch

Its song has been compared to a toy horn.

European Goldfinch

They are frequent visitors to backyard feeders, especially those containing niger seeds.

European Robin

Male robins are so aggressive and territorial that they will attack their own reflections.

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

Ferret

Ferrets can be trained to do tricks like dogs!

Fire-Bellied Toad

Found across mainland Europe and Asia!

Firefly

The firefly produces some of the most efficient light in the world

Flea

Adult fleas can jump up to 7 inches in the air

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!

Fruit Fly

Fruit flies are among the most common research animals in the world

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!

Goldcrest

The goldcrest never starts moving and needs to consume for most of the day to survive. Therefore, in the colder months, it's best that eat 90% a day.

Golden Eagle

Their calls sound like high-pitched screams, but they are quiet most of the time.

Golden Oriole

Migrates between Europe and Asia!

Goose

There are 29 different species!

Grasshopper

There are 11,000 known species!

Grey Heron

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

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 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!

Highland Cattle

Natively found in the Scottish Highlands!

Honey Bee

There are only 8 recognized species!

Hooded Seal

Hooded seal pups are called bluebacks because the color of the fur on their back is blue-gray. This pretty color made people want to make fur coats out of them and made them a target for hunters.

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.

Insects

There are an estimated 30 million species!

Jumping Spider

Some can jump 50 times the length of their bodies

King Eider

The species name, spectabilis, is Latin for “showy” or “remarkable,” referencing the attractiveness of the adult male’s plumage.

Kingfisher

Inhabits wetlands and woodlands worldwide!

Ladybug

There are more than 5,000 species worldwide!

Leech

Has 10 pairs of eyes!

Lemming

Does not hibernate during the bitter Arctic winter!

Linnet

While linnets are monogamous during mating season, they do not mate for life. While breeding pairs are together, the males are highly territorial and will defend the nesting site and the surrounding area.

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!

Long-Tailed Tit

Often hangs upside down while feeding!

Magpie

They are found across Europe, Asia and Africa!

Marsh Frog

Has bright green skin!

Mayfly

There are 2,500 known species worldwide!

Mealybug

They have a symbiotic relationship with ants.

Merganser

They line their nests with their feathers

Millipede

Some species have a poisonous bite!

Mole

Primarily hunts and feeds on Earthworms!

Mongrel

Has characteristics of two or more breeds!

Moorhen

Feeds on aquatic insects and water-spiders!

Moose

Renews it's enormous antlers every year!

Mosquito

Only the female mosquito actually sucks blood

Moth

There are 250,000 different species!

Mouse

Found on every continent on Earth!

Mule

The offspring of a horse and donkey parents!

Muskox

Muskox have several physical characteristics that allow them to survive in the Arctic climate.

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.

Norwegian Buhund

The Norwegian Buhund once worked on Norse homesteads

Norwegian Elkhound

This breed traveled with the Vikings!

Norwegian Forest

Has a long, thick double coat of fur!

Norwegian Lundehund

This breed is also called the Norsk Lundehund and the Norwegian Puffin Dog

Old House Borer

Depending on the habitat and climate, these beetles can live between 2 to 10 years, often staying in their larval stage for several years, making them extremely dangerous to wooden structures.

Orb Weaver

Females are about four times the size of males

Osprey

They reuse nesting sites for 70 years!

Otter

There are 13 different species worldwide

Owl

The owl can rotate its head some 270 degrees

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

Pike Fish

Apex freshwater predators with fearsome teeth!

Pine Marten

A pine marten can jump from tree to tree similar to a squirrel.

Polar Bear

Could be extinct within the next 30 years!

Pond Skater

There are 500 different species!

Pool Frog

The rarest amphibian in the UK!

Porcupine

There are 30 different species worldwide!

Porpoise

Surprisingly, not a dolphin!

Puffin

Can remain in the water for up to 2 minutes!

Purple Emperor Butterfly

Inhabits deciduous forests!

Puss Moth

Caterpillars squirt formic acid!

Quail

Inhabits woodland and forest areas worldwide!

Rabbit

There are more than 50 different species!

Raccoon

Known to wash their food before eating it!

Raccoon Dog

The only hibernating canine!

Rat

Omnivores that eat anything!

Red Deer

A male red deer shows his age in his antlers, which become longer and more branched every year.

Redstart

They build their nests off the ground in tree holes, cavities, stone walls, and roofs

Reindeer

Also known as the Caribou

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!

Rough-Legged Hawk (Rough-Legged Buzzard)

Its scientific name, lagopus, is Ancient Greek for “hare” and “foot,” referring to its feathered feet and toes.

Sable Ferret

Ferrets were used during the Revolutionary War to keep down the rat population.

Salamander

There are more than 700 different species!

Sand Crab

The sand crab burrows beneath the sand with its tail

Sand Lizard

Males turn green in spring!

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!

Sheep

Around 35 million in the English countryside!

Short-Eared Owl

The short-eared owl is one of the most widespread owl species in the world, covering five continents.

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.

Slow Worm

Found widely throughout British gardens!

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

Snowy Owl

One of the largest owl species in the world!

Song Thrush

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.

Spadefoot Toad

They spend most of their time underground!

Sparrow

There are 140 different species!

Spider Wasp

They prey on spiders to feed their larvae or they parasitize other spider wasps.

Squirrel

Small rodents found in woodlands worldwide!

Stick Insect

There are more than 3,000 different species!

Stoat

Average adults weigh about 200 grams!

Stork

They can’t sing like other birds.

Swan

Populations have been affected by pollution!

Swedish Elkhound

Swedish Elkhounds existed in prehistoric times!

Tawny Owl

The most widespread owl in Europe!

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

Tiger Moth

The bright colors of this moth are a signal to predators that it has a terrible taste.

Tortoise

Can live until they are more than 150 years old!

Tree Frog

Found in warmer jungles and forests!

Turtles

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

Viper

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

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 Vole

The largest Vole species in the UK!

Weasel

The smallest carnivorous mammal in the world!

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-Tailed Eagle

It is one of the biggest birds of prey.

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.

Wolverine

Releases a strong smelling musk in defence!

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!

Woolly Rhinoceros

The woolly rhinoceros roamed the earth between three and a half million and 14,000 years ago.

Worm

Doesn’t have eyes.

Wryneck

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

Xeme (Sabine’s Gull)

They follow after seals and whales to eat their scraps.

Yellowhammer

It interbreeds with the pine bunting

Norwegian Animals List

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AZ Animals is a growing team of animals experts, researchers, farmers, conservationists, writers, editors, and -- of course -- pet owners who have come together to help you better understand the animal kingdom and how we interact.