Nordic countries like Norway are tourist hotspots for several reasons, including their rich cultural and archaeological histories. Still, the wildlife that calls the region home are some of the most fascinating species on the planet—and seeing even one of them is an adventure of a lifetime for many people. So, what are the most interesting mammals that live in Norway?
Some fascinating mammals that live in Norway include Eurasian lynxes, Arctic foxes, reindeer, musk oxen, American minks, and wolverines. Fascinating marine mammals—walruses, orcas, beluga whales, and even narwhals—are also abundant in the region.
This article briefly explores 21 of the most interesting mammals in Norway—from massive species like sperm whales to smaller animals like the European water vole. It also highlights what makes these species so interesting and where you can find them in the region.
1. Eurasian Lynx
Eurasian lynx are famous for being the European continent’s third largest predators, as well as for their distinctive tipped ears. But while they might be familiar to most of Norway, there are several Eurasian lynx populations scattered across parts of Asia and Europe .
2. Arctic Foxes
These adorable animals are tundra-loving canines that prefer the company of polar bears for food and protection. They’re usually found in Norway’s mountains as well as Svalbard but are incredibly rare. Therefore, even catching a glimpse of an arctic fox is an experience of a lifetime .
3. Eurasian Elks
Eurasian elks are one of the biggest land mammals that live in Norway. They’re the same species as the American moose and are typically found in the country’s forests. Eurasian elks are famous for their peculiar antlers and are one of the most magnificent animals to see at any time of the day .
Reindeer belong to the same deer family as Eurasian elks, and the two species share many features . Reindeer are easy to recognize as they have been part of many tales and legends, including more recent books.
Large reindeer populations live in Norway—where they feed, thrive, and reproduce.
It’s almost impossible to misidentify walruses. After all, their size and tusks make them one of the most distinguishable animals on the planet . And like Arctic foxes, the Svalbard islands are the best places to find these fantastic beasts in Norway.
6. Musk Oxen
All of Norway’s musk oxen live and thrive in the Dovre area of the country. They move in herds, and while they are known for being aggressive to tourists that get too close, they’re one of the region’s most incredible wildlife .
These animals are uncommon in most of the world but can be seen in several mountain areas of Norway. They’re small and solitary creatures and will go out of their way to avoid humans and many other animals.
Still, they’re terribly ferocious hunters—even taking down small bears when threatened or starving .
8. American Minks
American minks are one of the cutest animals on this list. This semiaquatic mammal is native to the North American country for which it is named. However, human activities have helped spread their populations to several parts of the globe—including most of Europe, particularly Norway .
Whales are undoubtedly one of the most exciting mammals you can find anywhere on Earth. And while their size is enough to excite anyone, orcas—or killer whales—are an interesting species in their own right .
These sea mammals are typically concentrated around the mountain fjords north of Tromsø.
10. White-Beaked Dolphins
Another exciting mammal that lives in Norway is the white-beaked dolphin. This marine mammal typically thrives in frigid waters, particularly in the North Atlantic Ocean, so the waters of Norway are perfect for them .
11. Bearded Seals
Bearded seals are so named for their beard-like whiskers and are another fascinating species living in and around Norway. They’re marine mammals like whales and dolphins but are usually mistaken for walruses since they share many characteristics .
Usually referred to as “unicorns of the sea” for their peculiar tusks, narwhals are closely related to walruses and seals . This species can be found in both Norway and the cold waters of the Arctic—including Greenland and many parts of Russia.
13. Eurasian Red Squirrels
The Eurasian red squirrel, Sciurus vulgaris, is a tree-dwelling species found in many European and Asian forests. And while most of the species usually have red fur, they can also have many color variations—including white, black, and cream-colored patches .
14. Humpback Whales
Humpback whales are one of the most captivating species on the planet. They’re found in every ocean on Earth, and the waters around Norway are no exception . Like orcas, they’re typically concentrated around fjords north of the Tromsø region of Norway.
15. Polar Bears
Nordic countries are known for their incredible coastlines and frigid weather—qualities that make them ideal habitats for polar bears . These carnivorous mammals are known for growing up to 8 feet (2.4 meters) tall and are adapted to the extreme weather of the regions they call home.
16. Sperm Whales
Sperm whales appear on this list for one reason—their size. These marine mammals currently hold the record for being the third largest whale species on the planet—growing to reach up to 67 feet (20.4 meters) long !
They typically live in Norway’s Lofoten and Andenes regions, among several other marine species.
17. Beluga Whales
Beluga whales, or belugas, are peculiar-looking whales that can grow to 13 feet (4 meters) as adults. Their rounded foreheads might seem strange, but they’re essential to the animal’s survival—enabling them to change the shape of their head for various reasons .
These marine mammals live in Norway’s Svalbard islands alongside several other species.
Ermines are similar to minks, and both species are technically weasels. However, ermines are smaller, nocturnal creatures that prefer to live and hunt alone. The species can be found in several parts of Europe, as well as Asia and North America .
They’re also pretty widespread in Norway and live in almost all parts of the country.
19. Harbor Porpoise
Most people mistake harbor porpoises for dolphins since they look alike. However, this fascinating species is smaller than most dolphins and can be found along Norway’s coastlines, where they live and mate .
20. European Water Voles
While European water voles might be small, they’re still an incredibly interesting species. They’re similar to common rats but are distinctive in that they’re semi-aquatic rodents . These water voles are found in many parts of Europe and Asia and are common in Norway too.
21. Common Pipistrelles
Common pipistrelles are the United Kingdom’s most common bat species and another fascinating mammal that lives in Norway. They typically weigh no more than 8 grams (0.02 pounds), are nocturnal and feed on small insects .
These mammals live in almost every region of Norway but typically make their homes close to humans.