Animals in French Southern and Antarctic Lands

Updated: June 12, 2021
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Below you can find a complete list of Kerguelen animals. We currently track 111 animals in French Southern and Antarctic Lands and are adding more every day!

The French Southern and Antarctic Lands, sometimes called the French Austral Lands and Seas, are a group of islands in the southern Indian Ocean. They include Adelie Land on the edge of Antarctica; Crozet Island; the Kerguelen Islands, also known as the Desolation Islands; Saint Paul and Amsterdam Islands, which are north of Kerguelen Island; and the Scattered Islands, a group of small islands off the coast of Madagascar.

There is no permanent civilian population on the islands. A population of researchers, military personnel and administrators live on the Lands. Their number ranges from 150 in winter to 300 in the summer.

The Lands have harsh, freezing climate and active glaciers. Frequent snow and the harshest winds on earth create an inhospitable climate for most species.

The Official National Animal of French Southern and Antarctic Lands

The Lands do not have their own national animal. They are owned by France, and France’s national animal is the Gallic rooster (Gallus gallus domesticus).

The French rooster is also known as a cockerel. Its choice as France’s mascot comes from a play on words of the Latin word gallus, meaning rooster, and the word Gaul, which is the ancient name for France.

Where To Find the Top Wild Animals in French Southern and Antarctic Lands

There is a nature preserve on the Lands. The French Southern Territories National Nature Reserve is one of the largest natural preserves in the world. It was established in 2016 as a special economic, tourist, and natural zone. However, there are no visitor or tourist facilities on any of the Lands.

Don’t expect to visit wildlife in person. The Lands do not have any infrastructure for hosting visitors. There have been a few attempts to populate the islands, but no humans or domestic animals have been able to survive the harsh conditions.

These conditions have allowed endemic wildlife to flourish on the islands. There are four species of penguins here: macaroni penguins, king penguins, gentoo penguins, and Eastern rockhopper penguins.

Blue whales and fin whales swim in the waters. Several dolphin species, including Commerson’s dolphin and dusky dolphin, thrive here. Killer whales, pygmy blue whales, long-finned pilot whales, and other marine mammals also live undisturbed in the waters. Seal species include the Antarctic fur seal, Amsterdam Island fur seal, and South Atlantic elephant seal.

Amsterdam and Saint Paul Islands are extinct volcanic islands. Attempts to populate Amsterdam Island resulted in the destruction of some of the island’s ecosystems. Cattle brought over as part of that attempt are now wild on the island. This is one of the few feral herds of European cattle (Bos taurus) anywhere in the world.

Some endemic animals that are endangered elsewhere survive here, including the Yellow-nosed albatross (Diomedia chlororhynchos).

The coastlines are home to unique native birds including the sooty albatross, Soft-plumaged petrel, gray petrel, Antarctic tern, brown skua, and common waxbill.

The Most Dangerous Animals in French Southern and Antarctic Lands

The killer whale (Orcinus orca) is an apex predator in most waters where it lives. It’s dangerous for most animals to be around killer whales. They hunt mammals, sea birds, sea turtles, fish, and penguins.

These dangerous killers will eat sea lions, walruses, and seals. In groups, they will even attack gray whales and minke whales.

Extinct and Endangered Animals

The Amsterdam albatross (Diomedea amsterdamensis), which is only found on Amsterdam Island, is critically endangered and at risk of becoming extinct.

There are two endangered whale species in the Lands. The fin whale, also known as the common rorqual or finback whale, is endangered here as it is everywhere. Blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus) are also endangered.

The Lands are protected by many conservation laws. They are signatories to the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna), CMS (Convention on Migratory Species), CCAMLR (Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources), ACP (Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels) and the IWC (International Whaling Commission). 

The National Nature Reserve of the French Austral Lands and Seas is one of the largest marine reserves in the world. This unique reserve is a central location for the management of the Lands.

Administrators of the reserve have taken steps to address threats such as invasive species, overfishing, and global change. They have also engaged in restoration activities such as planting native grasses on Amsterdam Island and dismantling human activities. There are no plans to develop activities related to human travel on the Lands.

Unspoiled Lands

The wild, harsh environment of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands has allowed some animal species to flourish. Human involvement caused some damage to these ecosystems, but conservationists have taken steps to prevent further environmental harm. That gives these unique species a chance to recover before they become extinct.

Kerguelen Animals

Ant

First evolved 100 million years ago!

Barn Owl

Found everywhere around the world!

Bat

Detects prey using echolocation!

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 Dog Tick

Can live its entire life indoors

Budgerigar

Natively found in Australia!

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.

Cat

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

Caterpillar

The larvae of a moth or butterfly!

Catfish

There are nearly 3,000 different species!

Centipede

There are about 3,000 documented species!

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.

Cormorant

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

Cow

There are nearly 1.5 billion worldwide!

Crab

There are 93 different crab groups

Crab Spider

Crab Spiders can mimic ants or bird droppings

Crane

Many are critically endangered species!

Crested Penguin

Has long yellow eyebrows!

Cricket

Male crickets can produce sounds by rubbing their wings together

Crocodile

Have changed little in 200 million years!

Dog

First domesticated in South-East Asia!

Donkey

First domesticated 5,000 years ago!

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

Earwig

There are nearly 2,000 different species!

Eel

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

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!

Frog

There are around 7,000 different species!

Fruit Fly

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

Gecko

There are thought to be over 2,000 species!

Glowworm

Found inhabiting dense woodland and caves!

Grasshopper

There are 11,000 known species!

Hamster

Able to run as quickly backwards as forwards!

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!

Horse

Has evolved over 50 million years!

Housefly

The fly has no teeth

Human

Thought to have orignated 200,000 years ago!

Ibis

Found in swamps, marshes and wetlands!

Insects

There are an estimated 30 million species!

Ladybug

There are more than 5,000 species worldwide!

Leech

Has 10 pairs of eyes!

Lizard

There are around 5,000 different species!

Magpie

They are found across Europe, Asia and Africa!

Marine Toad

Produces a toxin used in arrow darts!

Mayfly

There are 2,500 known species worldwide!

Mealybug

They have a symbiotic relationship with ants.

Millipede

Some species have a poisonous bite!

Mongrel

Has characteristics of two or more breeds!

Monitor Lizard

Some species are thought to carry a weak venom!

Monkey

There are around 260 known species!

Moorhen

Feeds on aquatic insects and water-spiders!

Moth

There are 250,000 different species!

Mouse

Found on every continent on Earth!

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

Pademelon

Inhabits the jungles of the far east!

Parrot

Can live for up to 100 years!

Pheasant

Females lay between 8 and 12 eggs per clutch!

Possum

There are 69 species on the Australian continent!

Quail

Inhabits woodland and forest areas worldwide!

Rat

Omnivores that eat anything!

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!

Sand Crab

The sand crab burrows beneath the sand with its tail

Scorpion

There are around 2,000 known species!

Sea Dragon

Inhabits tropical coastal waters of Australia!

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!

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!

Smokybrown Cockroach

Has up to 45 eggs per egg case

Snail

There are nearly 1,000 different species!

Snake

There are around 4,000 known species worldwide

Sparrow

There are 140 different species!

Stick Insect

There are more than 3,000 different species!

Striped Rocket Frog

Long powerful hind legs!

Swan

Populations have been affected by pollution!

Tarantula Hawk

Tarantula hawks are excellent pollinators, especially for milkweed.

Termite

Their mounds can be up to 9 meters tall!

Tiger Beetle

The adult tiger beetle is one of the fastest land insects in the world

Tortoise

Can live until they are more than 150 years old!

Turtles

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

Wallaby

There are roughly 30 different species!

Wasp

There are around 75,000 recognised species!

Water Buffalo

Has been domesticated for thousands of years!

Water Dragon

Spends most of it's time in the trees!

Wolf Spider

Carnivorous arachnid that hunts its prey.

Woodlouse

This animal can roll up into a ball

Kerguelen 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 Animals Live in the French Southern and Antarctic Lands?

Animals that can survive the harsh weather conditions of these lands thrive here. They include four species of penguins, three seal species, terns, and albatrosses. These islands have the largest population of King penguins anywhere in the world.

They also host the second largest colony of southern elephant seals and the third largest colony of sub-Antarctic fur seals in the world.

Amsterdam Island has animals that were introduced by humans. Of these animals, there are surviving cats, mice and rats. There is also a large herd of wild cattle.

Are There Poisonous Snakes in the French Southern and Antarctic Lands?

There are no poisonous snakes on the Lands.

Which Is the Largest Animal in the French Southern and Antarctic Lands?

The blue whale is the largest animal in the French Southern and Antarctic Lands. The largest animal on earth, it can reach almost 100 feet. That’s the length of a football field.