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 137 animals in Norway and add more daily!
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.
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
- European Hedgehog
- European Rabbit
- European and Mountain Hares
- Red Squirrel
- Brown Bear
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.
Norway Animals FAQ
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!
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.
Yes. There are two types of venomous snakes in Norway: the common European viper and the adder.
Yes! Norwegian people are big into moose meat, and they love moose burgers!
Norwegian Animals List
- Arctic Fox
- Barn Owl
- Black Widow Spider
- Brown Bear
- Common Buzzard
- Common Frog
- Common Loon
- Common Toad
- Edible Frog
- Fire-Bellied Toad
- Flying Squirrel
- Glass Lizard
- Glow Worm
- Golden Oriole
- Highland Cattle
- Honey Bee
- Long-Eared Owl
- Marsh Frog
- Norwegian Forest
- Peregrine Falcon
- Pike Fish
- Polar Bear
- 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
- Tree Frog
- Water Buffalo
- Water Vole
- Wild Boar
- Wolf Spider