Photo: Annie Spratt
Fjord Tours Facts / 29 Jul 2019

Animal Life in Norway

Norway is renowned for having some of the most spectacular landscapes in the world, with dramatic vistas and breath-taking views around every corner. However, it’s also home to some of the most beautiful animals around the globe, many of which can be hard to see in the wild elsewhere.

The vast majority of animals in Norway don’t pose any dangers to humans, providing you stick to a few simple rules. An activity holiday in the country offers the chance to see many of these incredible creatures in their natural environment as well as taking in the scenery too.

If you’re considering a mountain bike activity holiday or other types of activities in nature, take a look at this guide to the animals you may spot during your time.

The animals

The vast, unspoiled landscape of Norway with its rich diversity of terrains makes it the perfect place for many different species of animal to survive. If you enjoy the natural world, you’ll love this opportunity to see a variety of birds and mammals in their own habitat.

While there can never be any absolute guarantees, here are just some of the creatures you may see:

Photo: Ray Hennessy

Puffins

You don’t have to be an avid birdwatcher to appreciate these quirky little characters, with their comical faces and cute features. You may spot small groups of puffins on the Svalbard waters during the summer months. Alternatively, you could visit Vesterålen where boat trips take tourists to visit puffin colonies which are home to as many as 150,000 breeding pairs in the summer.

Hares

You’ll need to be quiet to spot a hare in the wild, but the sight of this gentle creature is a gift. Brown in the summer and white in the winter, their soft fur changes colors with the seasons.

Wolf

In many ways, the wolf is the «most controversial» animal in Norway - the last count revealing that they number slightly less than 90 animals in total. Despite the low number of individual animals, there is a designated «safe zone» for wolves, and any wolf that wonders beyond this area can be hunted, and herein lies the controversy.

Photo: Richard Lee

Eurasian Elks

The largest creatures to inhabit the forests of Norway, the elks are a majestic sight  with antlers that can span as much as 150cm. Surprisingly bold, it’s possible to see elks during daylight but you’ll find the best viewings after the sun sets and armed with a flashlight.

Musk Ox

One of the rarest, most unique animals in the Norwegian nature. These «hairy beasts» are found in the Dovre mountain area. Despite its rather intimidating appearance, tourists at times think it is a good idea to get up close for that special selfie. Make a note to self, it is not! If observed at a safe distance they will go about their business, but if you invade their «personal space» you might find yourself trying to outrun a 900 pound (410 kg) animal with a top speed of 37 mph (60 km/t).

Reindeer

You’ll find the wild reindeer in the more arctic regions, as it is most content in mountainous areas with birch-forests. Even though they roam free, you’ll find herds that are privately owned and harvested for their lean, tasty meat and fur. Keeping reindeer is the privilege of the Sami people, who keep herds in the northern tundra of Finnmark as well as in the Trøndelag region in the middle of Norway.

Brown bears

Incredibly rare now in Norway, brown bears can be seen in forests in and around Øvre Pasvik National Park. They primarily eat berries and plants but will occasionally take a sheep. Needless to say, it is an animals best appreciated at a safe distance!

Polar bears

By contrast, in the island of Svalbard there are more polar bears than humans. Sadly, this number is dwindling, and there is a reason why the polar bear has become somewhat of a symbol of the climate crisis. A sobering estimate claims that by 2050 the total number can be reduced to 1/3 of today’s.

 

Lynx

A large and wild member of the cat family, the lynx likes to live in deeply forested areas stretching all over the country, including up to northerly Troms. Approximately one metre long, lynx like to eat small rodents, birds and hares but have been known to attack sheep and cats.

Bearded seals

A shy and retiring creature, you’ll need sharp eyes to spot these in the Norwegian fjords. Bearded seals are the biggest species of seal found in Northern Europe and like to spend time near floating ice.

These are just a few of the animals you could encounter in Norway; others include humpback whales, white-tailed eagles, arctic fox and walrus.

Staying safe

The wildlife in Norway is largely safe with very few animals capable of harming humans. The main one is the polar bear, found on the Svalbard island; trips to spot polar bears should only ever be attempted with a local guide. Generally, this expeditions are by boat - keeping both the spectators and the animals safe from harm.

In the rest of the country, the main threat is posed by moose, elk and deer wandering out into the road with little warning. This is particularly the case after heavy snowfall or when it’s dark. Therefore, if you’re driving or cycling on the roads remain vigilant for animals emerging from the trees. Brown bears and elks, however, are animals that command respect, and it is highly recommended keeping a safe distance, or better yet, move slowly in the opposite direction if you should encounter one in the wild.

Discover what awaits

There’s nothing quite like seeing wildlife in the wild and when combined with the raw beauty of the Norwegian countryside, it’s an experience not to be missed. have a look at what outdoor activities in Norway we recommend.