Animals in Greenland

Updated: June 11, 2021
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Below you can find a complete list of Greenlandic animals. We currently track 154 animals in Greenland and are adding more every day!

Greenland enjoys a unique landscape. For starters, it’s the world’s largest island, and though geographically linked to North America, the region is part of Scandinavia’s political and cultural milieu.

Greenland Wildlife Overview

Greenland is a famous misnomer as 79 percent of it is covered in ice. Yet, despite its lack of arable land, the region has more biodiversity than many people might assume. About 700 insects inhabit the island, and its waters are teeming with marine life.

However, due to a frigid climate and challenging topography, Greenland doesn’t have many terrestrial mammals. But the ones that survive on the glacial stronghold are memorable and unique, including polar bears, reindeer, muskox, Arctic foxes, Arctic wolves, collared lemmings, and lest we forget to mention, Greenlandic sled dogs, the hometown canines.

In the surrounding waters, whales are still relatively plentiful, and Inuit communities can sustenance-hunt the ocean behemoths, in addition to walruses, seals, and porpoises. Moreover, commercial fishing is a vital spoke in Greenland’s economic wheel. Shrimp, cod, halibut, and salmon are the most common catch.

Approximately 230 avian species spend part of the year in Greenland, but only 30 live regionally year-round. Sea eagles and sparrows are both plentiful, as are fulmars.

The Official National Animal of Greenland

Greenland is an autonomous territory under the Kingdom of Denmark. As such, it doesn’t have an official national animal. But polar bears are a prominent part of Greenland’s wildlife, so the iconic bears are the territory’s unofficial national animal.

Where To Find Wild Animals in Greenland

The Northeast Greenland National Park is the best place to spot wild animals on the island. At 375,000 square miles, it’s the world’s largest national park. Established in the 1970s and expanded in the 1980s, the Northeast is larger than 166 countries! It’s also the northernmost national park on the planet.

The Most Dangerous Animals in Greenland Today

Greenland is unique in that it has very few dangerous animals. By far, polar bears are the most lethal, and everyone should avoid confrontations at all costs. The giant bears have been known to kill humans with a single paw swipe. Rabid foxes are also a problem in the summer, and walruses have been known to attack humans under certain circumstances.

Other than the three species cited, Greenland is relatively free of dangerous animals.

Endangered and Extinct Animals in Greenland

Several of Greenland’s animal species are on the IUCN’s Red List and in danger of becoming extinct, including:

Extinct Arctic animals, like the great auk, a prehistoric precursor to the penguin, and woolly mammoths once occupied Greenland.

Greenlandic Animals

American Coonhound

Easygoing and people-friendly!

American Eel

Don't eat raw eel! Their blood is poisonous to humans when consumed raw.

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!

Arctic Hare

Eats berries found in the snow!

Arctic Wolf

Incredibly versatile and adaptive!

Aurochs

Extinct ancestor of all domesticated cattle!

Bat

Detects prey using echolocation!

Bea-Tzu

The Bea-Tzu has a fast-growing coat

Beabull

An excellent companion for cats!

Bear

There are 8 different species!

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

Bison

Largest mammal in North America!

Black Widow Spider

They typically prey on insects!

Brown-banded Cockroach

Females glue egg cases to furniture

Brown Dog Tick

Can live its entire life indoors

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

Cat

First domesticated by the Ancient Egyptians!

Caterpillar

The larvae of a moth or butterfly!

Catfish

There are nearly 3,000 different species!

Chestnut-Sided Warbler

They inhabit regrowing forests

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 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.

Cow

There are nearly 1.5 million worldwide!

Crab

There are 93 different crab groups

Crane

Many are critically endangered species!

Deer

There are around 40 different species!

Dog

First domesticated in South-East Asia!

Dog Tick

Dog ticks feed on dogs and other mammals

Doxle

Doxles have long floppy ears

Dragonfly

It's larvae are carnivorous!

Duck

Rows of tiny plates line their teeth!

Eagle

Has exceptional eyesight!

Earthworm

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

Eider

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

Ermine

A very bold and ferocious predator!

Flea

Adult fleas can jump up to 7 inches in the air

Fly

There are more than 240,000 different species!

Fox

There are 12 different species in the world!

Freshwater Eel

Freshwater eels are actually catadromous, meaning they migrate to saltwater to spawn

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!

Goose

There are 29 different species!

Grasshopper

There are 11,000 known species!

Greenland Dog

Strong and speedy breed of dog!

Grey Heron

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

Grizzly Bear

Less than 10% make it into adulthood

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.

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.

Horse

Has evolved over 50 million years!

Housefly

The fly has no teeth

Human

Thought to have orignated 200,000 years ago!

Ichthyostega

Ichthyostega was one of the first aquatic animals to venture on land

Insects

There are an estimated 30 million species!

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!

Lizard

There are around 5,000 different species!

Lone Star Tick

Only females have the ‘lone star’ marking

Long-Eared Owl

Ear tufts make it look bigger!

Mallard

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

Mealybug

They have a symbiotic relationship with ants.

Millipede

Some species have a poisonous bite!

Mink

The mink can swim up to 100 feet underwater.

Mole

Primarily hunts and feeds on Earthworms!

Mongrel

Has characteristics of two or more breeds!

Moose

Renews it's enormous antlers every year!

Mosquito

Only the female mosquito actually sucks blood

Moth

There are 250,000 different species!

Mountain Lion

Has no real natural predators!

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.

Opossum

Thought to be immune to certain snake venom!

Orb Weaver

Females are about four times the size of males

Otter

There are 13 different species worldwide

Owl

The owl can rotate its head some 270 degrees

Panther

Prefers to hunt at night than during the day!

Pheasant

Females lay between 8 and 12 eggs per clutch!

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!

Polar Bear

Could be extinct within the next 30 years!

Porpoise

Surprisingly, not a dolphin!

Puffin

Can remain in the water for up to 2 minutes!

Quail

Inhabits woodland and forest areas worldwide!

Raccoon

Known to wash their food before eating it!

Rat

Omnivores that eat anything!

Reindeer

Also known as the Caribou

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!

Ruddy Turnstone

They flip over stones to find prey

Salamander

There are more than 700 different species!

Sand Crab

The sand crab burrows beneath the sand with its tail

Sea Eagle

The sea eagle tends to mate for life with a single partner

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.

Skunk

Also known as the Polecat!

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

Snorkie

Snorkies are known for their funny, attention-getting antics.

Snowy Owl

One of the largest owl species in the world!

Spadefoot Toad

They spend most of their time underground!

Sparrow

There are 140 different species!

Squirrel

Small rodents found in woodlands worldwide!

Stag Beetle

The stag beetle consumes rotting and decaying wood when it is in the larva stage.

Stick Insect

There are more than 3,000 different species!

Stoat

Average adults weigh about 200 grams!

Swan

Populations have been affected by pollution!

Tarantula Hawk

Tarantula hawks are excellent pollinators, especially for milkweed.

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

Torkie

The Torkie has a soft silky coat

Turtles

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

Vinegaroon

Vinegaroons can spray 19 times before the glands are depleted

Vulture

There are 30 different species worldwide!

Wasp

There are around 75,000 recognised species!

Weasel

The smallest carnivorous mammal in the world!

White-Tailed Eagle

It is one of the biggest birds of prey.

Wolf

Thought to date back more than 300,000 years!

Wolf Spider

Carnivorous arachnid that hunts its prey.

Woodlouse

This animal can roll up into a ball

Woodpecker

There are 200 different species!

Woodrat

Pack rats love shiny objects and will steal your jewelry.

Worm

Doesn’t have eyes.

Xeme (Sabine’s Gull)

They follow after seals and whales to eat their scraps.

Yoranian

These dogs are very intelligent and are great with children.

Greenlandic Animals List

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About the Author

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.

Animals in Greenland FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What is the Most Common Animal in Greenland?

Researchers currently don’t have reliable counts. However, educated guesses point to either reindeer or Arctic hares as the most common animal in Greenland. Although, one of the 700 insect populations may outnumber both mammal species.

Are There Dangerous Animals in Greenland?

Yes, polar bears live in Greenland, and they rank among the most dangerous animals in the world. The gigantic bears can kill humans with just one “punch.”

Does Greenland Have Indigenous Animals?

Approximately 26 mammals are indigenous to Greenland and its surrounding waters. Although reindeer have decent populations in the region, they’re not native species. Instead, caribou arrived with Europeans who colonized the island.

Arctic hares, Arctic foxes, and musk oxen are indigenous to the region, as our several types of whales.

Does Greenland Have a Zoo?

Greenland doesn’t have a formal zoo. However, people book guided wildlife tours, which many consider being a superior and more humane “zoo” experience.