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10 Incredible Wild Animals in Belgium

Belgium is a country located just north of France. It is home to various wildlife, including birds, reptiles, insects, and amphibians. However, some factors, such as the introduction of invasive species, climate change, and excessive water use, have caused many animals to become extinct. Despite these challenges, Belgium has a diverse range of bird species.

Some of the iconic animals found in Belgium include the little owl, red fox, Eurasian otter, garden dormouse, and pine processionary. While Belgium has some venomous animals, such as the common European adder, it is not true that most animals are entirely dangerous or venomous.

Here are 10 iconic wild animals that can be found in Belgium.

1. Little Owl

Belgium Animals - Little Owl
  • Scientific name: Athene noctua
  • Type of animal: Bird
  • Where found in the country: Throughout the country, though more common in the southern part of Belgium.
  • Conservation status: Least Concern

The little owl is a small owl species that can be found in temperate regions around the world, including parts of Europe, Asia, and Africa. It has a distinct appearance: a flat, disc-shaped face, short tail, and pale under parts. It’s known for being a friendly bird capable of interacting well with humans.

It’s an opportunistic predator, feeding on various prey such as insects, invertebrates, and small vertebrates. During the spring breeding season, females lay around four eggs, which they incubate for several weeks. The male bird will bring food to the female during this time. After hatching, the chicks are fed by both parents and are able to look for food on their own at around seven weeks old.

★ Did you know? Despite its small size, little owl has a very loud and distinctive call that can be heard up to a kilometer away. The call is often described as a “kiew” or a “ke-wick” sound, and it is used to communicate with other owls and establish their territory.

2. Harbour Porpoise

Belgium Animals - Harbour Porpoise
  • Scientific name: Phocoena phocoena
  • Type of animal: Mammal
  • Where found in the country: The North Sea, which borders Belgium’s coastline.
  • Conservation status: Least Concern

The harbour porpoise is one of the smallest species of cetaceans, with an estimated global population of around 700,000 individuals. They are commonly found in coastal waters and river estuaries, where they feed close to the sea bottom in waters less than 200 meters deep.

Harbour porpoises are primarily foragers, but they can also hunt for prey. They are known to interact with other porpoises in groups or may be found alone. Female harbour porpoises typically reach sexual maturity around four years of age and have a lifespan of around 13 years.

★ Did you know? The harbour porpoises can dive to depths of up to 200 meters for food. Despite their small size, they are able to hold their breath for several minutes and can swim at speeds of up to 55 kilometers per hour.

3. Wild Boar

Animals in Belgium - Wild Boar
  • Scientific name: Sus scrofa
  • Type of animal: Mammal
  • Where found in the country: Ardennes forest in Wallonia and parts of the Flanders region.
  • Conservation status: Least Concern

The wild boar is a species of wild pig that is well-adapted to diverse habitats and can thrive in various environments. While they may face predation by wolves, they are also apex predators themselves and can significantly impact their ecosystems.

Wild boars have a complex history of human interaction and are believed to be the ancestor of the common domestic pig.

Like many other animals, wild boars may be plagued by blood-sucking flies, but they do not necessarily manage this by frequently bathing in water. Instead, they may use various methods to alleviate discomfort caused by insects, such as rolling in mud or dust to create a protective layer on their skin.

★ Did you know? Male wild boars have upper tusks that are longer and curve more than their lower tusks. These upper tusks can serve to sharpen the lower tusks as well as for self-defense and competition with other males during mating season.

4. Eurasian Beaver

Belgium Animals - Eurasian Beaver
  • Scientific name: Castor fiber
  • Type of animal: Mammal
  • Where found in the country: The eastern part of the country, along the river valleys of the Meuse, Sambre, and Ourthe rivers.
  • Conservation status: Least Concern

The Eurasian beaver is one of the largest rodent species in the world, native to Eurasia. These creatures were once widely hunted for their fur and castoreum, which was believed to have medicinal properties, but today they are protected in many countries.

They are herbivorous animals that mainly eat plants and can consume up to 20% of their body weight daily. Their long digestive system allows them to digest tough bark and cellulose. Eurasian beavers typically live in monogamous groups and stay together for multiple breeding seasons, producing one litter per year.

★ Did you know? Eurasian beavers are well-known for their ability to construct dams using sticks, logs, and other materials found in their environment.

5. Pine Processionary

Belgium Animals - Pine Processionary
  • Scientific name: Thaumetopoea pityocampa
  • Type of animal: Insect
  • Where found in the country: Pine forests and other coniferous forests
  • Conservation status: Data Deficient

The pine processionary is a type of caterpillar that is known for moving in a procession or line, hence the name, “processionary.” These caterpillars are often found on pine trees and can be quite destructive to the trees they infest.

They have long hairs that contain a protein called, “thaumetopoein,” which can cause severe irritation and allergic reactions in humans and animals. In fact, contact with the hairs can cause a type of dermatitis called, “processionary caterpillar dermatitis.”

★ Did you know? Pine processionary caterpillars can spin a cocoon or pupa to protect themselves during the pupation stage.

6. Common European Adder

Belgium Animals - Common Adder
  • Scientific name: Vipera berus
  • Type of animal: Reptiles
  • Where found in the country: Throughout Belgium in various habitats, including forests, grasslands, heathlands, and rocky areas.
  • Conservation status: Least Concern

The Common European Adder is a venomous snake species in most parts of Europe. They mainly feed on small mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. Female adders breed once every two or three years; the litter is born during summer.

While they are venomous, adders generally only bite when alarmed and are not typically aggressive. However, their bites are relatively common, with livestock sometimes being the victims.

Adders are adapted to colder climates and hibernate during the winter months. Unfortunately, up to 40% of juvenile adders may die during hibernation.

★ Did you know? Unlike most snake species, common European adders exhibit sexual dimorphism, with males tending to have a darker coloration (black, grey) and females having a lighter coloration (brown, reddish-brown).

7. Eurasian Otter

Belgium Animals - Eurasian Otter
  • Scientific name: Lutra lutra
  • Type of animal: Mammal
  • Where found in the country: Rivers, streams, and wetlands throughout Belgium.
  • Conservation status: Near Threatened

The Eurasian otter is a semi-aquatic mammal in Europe and parts of Asia. These species are well adapted for their aquatic lifestyle, with webbed feet, a streamlined body, and dense fur that provides insulation in cold water.

Eurasian otters are carnivorous and feed mainly on fish, but they will also eat frogs, crustaceans, and small mammals. They are solitary animals and are primarily active during dawn and dusk.

They were once hunted extensively for their fur, which led to a significant decline in their population, but conservation efforts have helped to stabilize their numbers in many areas.

★ Did you know? Eurasian otters are known to use rocks to crack open hard-shelled prey, such as crabs and shellfish.

8. Western Barbastelle

Belgium Animals - Western Barbastelle
  • Scientific name: Barbastella barbastellus
  • Type of animal: Mammal
  • Where found in the country: Forests of the Ardennes region
  • Conservation status: Near Threatened

The western barbastelle is a fascinating species of bat found in various parts of Europe. This small bat is characterized by its small nose, large ears, and dark, shiny fur. It prefers to live in wooded areas and rocky habitats, where it roosts in tree hollows, caves, and crevices. During the winter, western barbastelles migrate to underground roosting sites, such as abandoned mines, where they hibernate until spring.

Western barbastelles are not particularly social, unlike some other bat species. They are usually found in small groups or alone. They are also known for their impressive hunting abilities, using their echolocation to track down and capture insects in mid-air. In addition to insects, Western Barbastelles feed on other small animals like moths, spiders, and even small fish.

★ Did you know? Western barbastelle captures prey by using its large feet to scoop them out of the air as they fly past, rather than pursuing them in flight like most other bats. This is known as “trawling.”

9. Eurasian Lynx

Belgium Animals - Eurasian Lynx
  • Scientific name: Lynx lynx
  • Type of animal: Mammal
  • Where found in the country: Ardennes region of Belgium
  • Conservation status: Near Threatened

The Eurasian lynx is a medium-sized wild cat with a reddish or brownish coat marked with black spots, although some have dark brown stripes on the forehead and back. It is a nocturnal animal that spends the day sleeping. However, they may hunt during the day when food is scarce.

It marks its territory with scrape marks, urine, and feces. Despite being a secretive animal with very quiet sounds, it can go for years without being noticed.

★ Did you know? The Eurasian lynx is an opportunistic predator that will generally eat any prey it is capable of killing.

10. Red Fox

Animals in Belgium - Red Fox
  • Scientific name: Vulpes vulpes
  • Type of animal: Mammal
  • Where found in the country: Throughout Belgium, including both urban and rural areas.
  • Conservation status: Least Concern

Red foxes have the widest distribution of any fox species worldwide. They are believed to have originated from Eurasia during the Middle Villafranchian period.

They typically live in pairs or small families consisting of mated pairs and their young and feed on rodents. However, their main prey is rabbits, game birds, and reptiles.

★ Did you know? Male red foxes are called dogs or tods, while females are called vixens. This naming convention is not unique to red foxes since it is also used for other fox species.

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