Animals in Greenland

Updated: June 11, 2021
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Below you can find a complete list of Greenlandic animals. We currently track 158 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.


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!

Atlantic Cod

One of the most popular food fishes in the world


Extinct ancestor of all domesticated cattle!


Detects prey using echolocation!


The Bea-Tzu has a fast-growing coat


An excellent companion for cats!


There are 8 different species!

Bed Bugs

Bed bugs feed for 4-12 minutes.


Rock paintings of bees date back 15,000 years


There are more than 350,000 different species


Not all birds are able to fly!

Biscuit Beetle

The biscuit beetle form a symbiotic relationship with yeast


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


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.


Males and females grow antlers


May have been domesticated up to 10,000 years ago.


The larvae of a moth or butterfly!


There are nearly 3,000 different species!

Chestnut-Sided Warbler

They inhabit regrowing forests


First domesticated more than 10,000 years ago!


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.


They can fly 35 mph and dive 150 feet below water.


There are nearly 1.5 billion worldwide!


There are 93 different crab groups


Many are critically endangered species!


There are around 40 different species!


First domesticated in South-East Asia!

Dog Tick

Dog ticks feed on dogs and other mammals


Doxles have long floppy ears


It's larvae are carnivorous!


Rows of tiny plates line their teeth!


Has exceptional eyesight!


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


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


A very bold and ferocious predator!


Adult fleas can jump up to 7 inches in the air


There are more than 240,000 different species!


Only 12 species are considered "true foxes"

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!


Found inhabiting dense woodland and caves!


There are 29 different species!


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


Able to run as quickly backwards as forwards!

Harbor Porpoise

Surprisingly, not a dolphin!


Can reach speeds of over 50 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.


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.


Has evolved over 50 million years!


The fly has no teeth


Thought to have orignated 200,000 years ago!


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


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.


Inhabits wetlands and woodlands worldwide!


There are more than 5,000 species worldwide!


Has 10 pairs of eyes!


Does not hibernate during the bitter Arctic winter!


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!


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


They have a symbiotic relationship with ants.


Some species have a poisonous bite!


The mink can swim up to 100 feet underwater.


Primarily hunts and feeds on Earthworms!


Has characteristics of two or more breeds!


Renews it's enormous antlers every year!


Only the female mosquito actually sucks blood


There are 250,000 different species!

Mountain Lion

Has no real natural predators!


Found on every continent on Earth!


The offspring of a horse and donkey parents!


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


Thought to be immune to certain snake venom!

Orb Weaver

Females are about four times the size of males


There are 13 different species worldwide


The owl can rotate its head some 270 degrees


Prefers to hunt at night than during the day!


Females lay between 8 and 12 eggs per clutch!


They can find their way back to their nests from up to 1300 miles away.


Found in mountainous regions and rocky areas

Pink Salmon

The smallest of the North American salmon

Polar Bear

Could be extinct within the next 30 years!


Can remain in the water for up to 2 minutes!


Inhabits woodland and forest areas worldwide!


Known to wash their food before eating it!


Omnivores that eat anything!


Also known as the Caribou


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.


Will mate with the entire flock!

Ruddy Turnstone

They flip over stones to find prey


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


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!

Skink Lizard

Some skinks lay eggs in some habitats while giving birth to skinklets in other habitats.


Also known as the Polecat!

Smokybrown Cockroach

Has up to 45 eggs per egg case


There are nearly 1,000 different species!


There are around 4,000 known species worldwide


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!


There are 140 different species!


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!


Average adults weigh about 200 grams!


Populations have been affected by pollution!

Tarantula Hawk

Tarantula hawks are excellent pollinators, especially for milkweed.


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


The Torkie is alert and very vocal so it makes a great watchdog.


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


Vinegaroons can spray 19 times before the glands are depleted


There are 30 different species worldwide!


There are around 75,000 recognised species!


The smallest carnivorous mammal in the world!

White-Tailed Eagle

It is one of the biggest birds of prey.


Thought to date back more than 300,000 years!

Wolf Spider

Carnivorous arachnid that hunts its prey.


This animal can roll up into a ball


There are 200 different species!


Pack rats love shiny objects and will steal your jewelry.


Doesn’t have eyes.

Xeme (Sabine’s Gull)

They follow after seals and whales to eat their scraps.


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.

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.