What Animals Live In The Netherlands? The Dutch Animal Guide

June 7, 2021

The Netherlands might not be a big country, but it sure is the home of a lot of animals. Due to the maritime climate, you can find all kinds of animals such as sea animals and land animals. There are of course lots of cows and there are geese everywhere, but there are some more dangerous animals in our country as well.

Many different kinds of animals live in the Netherlands. In the wild, deer, foxes, hares, rabbits, and boars are common. In captivity, many cows, pigs, goats, and chickens live in the Netherlands. The most common pets are dogs, cats, fish, and rabbits.

This article will tell you what kind of animals you might run into while visiting the Netherlands. Most of these animals you can probably guess, but did you know there are some animals to watch out for as well? Read on to find out exactly which animals you should watch out for while visiting the Netherlands, and to find out the story behind wolves in our country.

What Types of Animals Live in the Netherlands?

Just like most countries, the Netherlands has a big variety of animals living there. We have everything from big, well-known animals to small insects and a number of different birds.

If you want to go animal spotting, you might want to visit special parks where nature is protected, there you will find a lot of wild animals. But even in the cities or beside the roads you can spot all kinds of animals.

Flying animals (birds):

There are several birds that like to roam around the Dutch skies. Our country has a relatively mild climate, which means there are several birds that don’t stay here for the whole year. Examples of this are the three-toed sandpiper and the widgeon.

However, there also are some birds in the Netherlands that stay throughout the whole year. Blackbirds are one of the most common birds in the Netherlands that stay throughout the whole year, as well as the house sparrow and the starling. You can find these birds anywhere from the city to the countryside.

The many different birds in the Netherlands, make our country a perfect bird-watching country. So do you love birds? Then be sure to come to the Netherlands.

Most common birds in the Netherlands:

  • Blackbird
  • House sparrow
  • Starling
  • House finch
  • Ducks
  • Geese
  • Swans
  • Gulls (seagull)

Sea animals:

Since the Netherlands has a big coastline, there are some sea animals in our country as well. The North Sea is home to quite some fish, such as the weeverfish. You can read more about this dangerous fish later on.

Animals that live in the North Sea as well that you probably won’t see while visiting the Netherlands include squids and porpoises. Other sea animals in the North Sea that you might see while you’re at the beach include jellyfish, seals, starfish, and hermit crabs

Most common sea animals in the Netherlands:

  • Fish species
  • Seals
  • Crabs
  • Jellyfish
  • Porpoise
  • Shells species
  • White-beaked dolphin
  • Dwarf Minke Whale

Land animals:

When it comes to animals living on the land, the Netherlands is home to most animals you can find in a petting zoo, such as sheep, cows, and goats. While those are usually owned by farmers, it is not uncommon to see them in the grass next to a road. Other common land animals are deer and horses.

If you would like to spot a lot of animals and explore the nature of the Netherlands, there are a few places specifically you should visit. The Veluwe is one of those, the most common animals here are the deer, the wild boar, and the mouflon.

Another place you could visit is the Biesbosch, where you will find the beaver and plenty of hares. A third option is to visit the Wad Islands, specifically Texel and Schiermonnikoog. 

Most common land animals in the Netherlands:

  • Cows
  • Sheep
  • Goats
  • Foxes
  • Deer
  • Boars
  • Mouflon
Cows in a Dutch greenfield

What is the Most Common Animal in the Netherlands?

There are a lot of different animals in the Netherlands, some more common than others. This has a lot of reasons, such as the climate and vegetation.

Oftentimes when people think of the Netherlands, cows come to mind. This is probably because of our role in dairy production. Greenfields full of cows is definitely a view you can encounter while visiting our country.

However, to determine which animals are most common in the Netherlands, it is important to distinguish animals in captivity from animals in the wild.

Most common wild animals in the Netherlands

One of the most common animals in the wild that you can see in the Netherlands is deer, specifically the European Roe. Not many deer are victims of predation in the Netherlands, and when there was a lot of afforestation in the 20th century, the deer population had the perfect opportunity to grow.

If you are walking through the Netherlands, chances are you will see some geese. Because of the grasslands and nature reserves, these animals love being in the Netherlands. They can easily find a safe spot to sleep and reproduce. 

Another animal that is quite common in the wild is the fox, specifically the red fox. Foxes can live in a variety of landscapes, such as forests, meadows, and mountains. In the Netherlands, they live mostly around forests, but sometimes they live close to the city parks as well.

If you like bunnies and hares, the Netherlands is a great place to visit as well. You will find these animals mostly where there is a lot of nature, but they aren’t limited to a specific part of the Netherlands.

Summary of the most common wild animals in the Netherlands:

  • Geese
  • Deer
  • Foxes
  • Boars
  • Ducks
  • Hares

Most common animals in captivity in the Netherlands

The most common pet in the Netherlands is a fish. Whether this is a goldfish in an aquarium inside or fish that swim in the pond in our backyard, we Dutch people love to have fish. They are fairly easy to take care of and they are fun to watch. Other common pets in the Netherlands are dogs, cats, bunnies, birds, and chickens.

Most common pets in the Netherlands:

  • Fish
  • Dogs
  • Cats
  • Rabbits
  • Birds
  • Chickens

Of course, the Netherlands also has a huge livestock population, which are also captive animals.

Most common livestock animals in the Netherlands:

  • Cows
  • Pigs
  • Sheep
  • Chicken
  • Goats

What Dangerous Animals Live in the Netherlands?

Although the Netherlands does not have a lot of lethal predators, there are some animals you might want to watch out for. Some of these are only aggressive when provoked, but even then it might be a good idea to keep your distance. Below you will find the three most dangerous animals in the Netherlands.

Tick

Ticks are often found in forests or high grass. If they bite you, you usually won’t feel it. The small animals then stick to you, which can cause an infection. If you get the tick out safely and in time, there is nothing to worry about.

However, if a red circle becomes visible you might have been infected with Lime’s disease. So it’s a good idea to check for ticks when you’ve been out and about, and don’t forget to keep an eye on potential signs of Lime’s disease.

Weever fish

This fish lives on the bottom of the North Sea. Weever fish tend to hide in the sand, and in combination with their camouflaged skin, this fish is hard to spot.

When stepping on a Weever fish you will feel a lot of pain, after which your foot will start to swell. The venomous spines of the fish can cause you to feel unwell. You should go see a doctor because in the worst cases this venom can be fatal. 

Viper

There are three types of snakes in the Netherlands, one of them being the viper. The viper is the only venomous snake of the three and is recognizable by the zigzag pattern on its back.

Being bitten by this snake can cause you to feel dizzy and you might throw up. You should go see a doctor after being bitten. The chances of surviving this bite are quite high for adults, but small children are at a higher risk.

Other animals to watch out for are foxes and badgers since they can bite when provoked. You also might want to avoid jellyfish if you decide to take a dive in the North Sea. Although most jellyfish that make it close enough to the shore to sting you are harmless, getting stung does hurt.

Are There Snakes In The Netherlands?

To find an immediate answer to this question, yes, snakes do live in the Netherlands. But there is a slim chance you’ll actually encounter a snake in the Netherlands. In fact, most Dutch people never have encountered one in their own country.

In the Netherlands, there are three types of snakes, the viper, grass snake, and smooth snake. These snake species differ quite from each other and have their own habitat and way of life. Only the viper is venomous to people.

Now that you know that snakes are living in the Netherlands, you are obviously curious about what these snakes are, how they live, where they live, and most importantly for many people, whether they’re dangerous.

Check out our article about snakes in the Netherlands, to learn more about these animals in Holland.

Are there snakes in the Netherlands

What Animals are Native to the Netherlands?

Even though you can find a lot of different animals in zoos in the Netherlands, not all of those are native to the Netherlands. Due to our climate and vegetation, not all animals are able to survive here on their own.

Below you will find some animals that are perfectly able to survive in the Netherlands and are native.

Rodents are quite common in the Netherlands, and there are several species that live in our country. Some of those are mice, rats, hamsters, beavers, and squirrels.

Besides that, the Netherlands also has some animals that can be found near and in the water. Examples of those are otters, seals, and ducks.

Other animals that are native to the Netherlands include pigs, deer, bats, moles, and hedgehogs. Of course, there are several insects in the Netherlands as well. It’s more than likely you will see spiders, worms, and other insects while visiting the Netherlands.

Are There Wolves in the Netherlands?

A long time ago, wolves were quite common in the Netherlands. They lived happily in our country, as well as in our neighboring countries Germany and Belgium.

At first, there were no problems. But over time people started to see wolves as a threat. The wolves were thought to be very dangerous to humans, and this led to people hunting and prosecuting wolves more intently.

Because of these wolves getting killed, they eventually disappeared from our country during the 18th and 19th centuries. The last wolf in the Netherlands was said to be killed in 1869. For a while, this seemed to be the end of wolves in the Netherlands.

However, back in 2015, the first wolf after their disappearance was spotted in the Netherlands. It stayed for only four days, but this was the beginning of the slow comeback wolves are about to make in our country.

In the following two years, more and more wolves got spotted, although they were usually roaming around on their own. However, over the last few years, several wolf territories have been spotted, and experts believe the number of wolves in the Netherlands will only continue to grow. 

At the convention of Bern in 1982, all European countries agreed to make the wolf a protected animal. This will most likely help the wolves to reclaim their habitats and become a common animal in Europe again.

Do These Animals Live in the Netherlands?

You might have known about some of the animals above, but those are certainly not all of the animals living in the Netherlands. There are too many animals to list them all, but below you will find out about some other animals in the Netherlands that might spark your interest.

Are there rats in the Netherlands? Yes, there are rats in the Netherlands. Both brown rats and black rats are no strangers to our country. Black rats are mostly seen in the south of the Netherlands and at ports, while brown rats can be found all over the country. Most rats live close to people, as that is where the food and water can be found.

Are there elephants in the Netherlands? There are no elephants in the Netherlands, at least not in the wild. The two kinds of elephants in the world are from Asia and Africa. However, you can find elephants in captivity in the Netherlands. Several Dutch zoos have elephants and the first elephant to be born in a Dutch zoo was born back in 1984.

Does the Netherlands have squirrels? There is one kind of squirrel that does live in the Netherlands in the wild. This is the Eurasian Red Squirrel. Their fur is a mixture of red and brown and it is a species of tree squirrel, which means they like to live in big, strong trees. This causes them to be seen mainly in forests, but they also like to visit the occasional park.

Are there elk in the Netherlands? Elk in the Netherlands are rare. They used to live here years ago, but due to hunting, they disappeared. However, in nature reserve Lelypark, a handful of elk were living in the wild. Although the Netherlands is currently not one of the homes to elk, some experts think a return of this animal is not unlikely.

Does the Netherlands have bears? The Brown Bear has been extinct in the Netherlands for more than a century. Nowadays there are no bears in the wild in the Netherlands, but you can find them in the special bear forest created by zoo Ouwehands Dierenpark. Other bears can be found only in the zoo as well, such as polar bears or panda bears.

Are there poisonous spiders in the Netherlands? There are no poisonous spiders in the Netherlands, and almost all of the spiders in our country are harmless. One venomous spider has been spotted in the Netherlands a few times, namely the European Black Widow. This is a spider you want to avoid. Other than that, some spiders can leave a bite that stings or hurts a bit, but they are not dangerous.

Conclusion

I hope that by reading this article you have gotten an answer to the question "what animals live in the Netherlands?". Whether it’s a wolf, a tick, or a less dangerous animal, such as a sheep or hare, the Netherlands is proudly home to many animals.

You can spot some of these animals while riding your bike through the city, or you can actively try to find them at a National Park such as the Veluwe.

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Written by

Leo van den Berg
As a Dutchman I am extremely proud of the beautiful country in which I live. My goal is to convey my passion and love for the Netherlands to as many people as possible.

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