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Migratory Locust (Locusta Migratoria), Lendas, South Crete

Red Dragonfly, Crete

Young Balkan Green Lizard (Lacerta trilineata), Samaria Gorge, Crete

Young Balkan Green Lizard (Lacerta trilineata) without tail, Crete

Hedgehog (Erinaceus concolor) near Kournas, Crete

Stripe-necked Terrapin (Mauremys caspica), Agia Lake, Chania Area

Young Agrimi Wild Goat / Kri Kri (Capra aegagrus cretica), Samaria Gorge, Crete

Why Crete ?
Air Sports
Bird Watching
Byzantine Churches
Caves and Speleology
Culture and Tradition
Cycling / MTB
Folklore and Crafts
Food and Drink
Greek Language
Hiking and Walking
History of Crete
Horse Riding
Jet Skiing
Music and Dancing
Name Days
Nature and Environment
Wild Flowers

Balkan Green Lizard (Lacerta trilineata) 'Kolisavra'

Wildlife on Crete

Mammals, Reptiles, Amphibians, Sea-life, Insects, Crustaceans and other Invertebrates on Crete

Swallowtail Butterfly, Chania, Crete
Swallowtail Butterfly, Chania, Crete

The size of Crete - 8,336 km2 (3,219 square miles), largest of the Greek islands and the diversity of its habitats support a wide variety of wildlife including fascinating reptiles, a large number of bat species and some unique mammals.

Wetlands, ponds and even the borders of many southern beaches on Crete have large populations of breeding amphibians. Shallow pools of water from inland streams flowing across these beaches provide a warm spot for tadpoles to mature and they can be seen in the thousands as early as the beginning of March.

Tadpoles, Shinaria Beach, near Plakias, Crete
Tadpoles, Shinaria Beach, near Plakias, Crete

Mountains and the sub alpine areas are home to mammals such as the Cretan Wildcat and the Agrimi (Wild Goat). Also known as Kri Kri, these wild goats can now only be found in a few isolated areas of Crete including the Samaria National Park. Breeding programmes have been set up on outlying islands such as the one near Agios Nikolaos in the hope of increasing the population of these graceful quadrupeds.

Agrimi Wild Goat/Kri Kri
Agrimi Wild Goat/Kri Kri
Agrimi Wild Goat/Kri Kri
Agrimi Wild Goat/Kri Kri

Patience or luck is needed to see much of Crete's wildlife population, as the size and isolation of parts of Crete enable its wildlife to have a relatively undisturbed existence away from roads and centres of population. Unfortunately, you will only see mammals such as badgers and beech martens mostly when they have met with accidents with traffic.

Gorges rich with lush vegetation in the west and south of Crete, arid areas in the east, beaches and lowland areas, semi-mountainous habitats and numerous mountain ranges and isolated plateaux. Crete's north and south coasts are very different in character with the south having many more ravines (canyons) and rocky beaches only accessible by boat.

Cretan Marsh Frog (Rana cretensis), Agia Lake, Chania Area
Cretan Marsh Frog (Rana cretensis), Agia Lake, Chania Area
Green Toad (Bufo viridis), St Antonios Gorge, Patsos, Rethymnon
Green Toad (Bufo viridis), St Antonios Gorge, Patsos, Rethymnon

The sealife is abundant around Crete's coast with amazingly colourful fish, happy to share their environment with swimmers equipped with a simple mask and snorkel. It is possible to stand in the sea just off the beach at places such as Elafonissos and Vai and enjoy the sight of these beautiful creatures as they swim around your feet.

The Sea Turtle (Caretta caretta) is a very important visitor to Crete and one who needs the protection and consideration of Crete's human visitors. These magnificent reptiles, marvellously adapted to life in the sea, make nests and lay their eggs on several beaches around Crete. They are a protected species. Their breeding sites are monitored and protected by Archelon, a society founded in 1983 for the protection of Sea Turtles, but they can only do this with the help and consideration of everyone who uses the beaches so please do your part in preserving the Sea Turtles by following the simple rules shown in the video when you're using the Sea Turtles' beaches.

Cretaquarium often work in conjunction with Archelon and the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research (HCMR) on rehabilitating injured sea turtles to reintroduce them back to the sea. Ariadne, was one such turtle recently, who after 15 months of recovery at the aquarium, was able to go back to her natural environment in November 2008. For more information on Ariadne and her rescue and recovery please click here: Ariadne at Cretaquarium

During the prehistoric period, Crete was inhabited by bison, pygmy elephants, pygmy hippos and wild cows. Bones from these creatures have been found in caves around Crete.

In the Minoan period, 3000 - 4000 years ago, wildlife and nature were a major feature of art and illustration.

It is still in the nature of true Crete and the Cretans to respect nature, wildlife and birdlife and many individuals and organisations play their part in protecting endangered species and ensuring that no more species are put at risk.

Potamon potamios Crab, Crete
Potamon potamios Crab, Crete

The full species list of Crete's mammals, reptiles and amphibians includes 34 Mammals, 15 Reptiles and 4 Amphibians.

Green Toad
American Toad
Common Tree Frog
Cretan Marsh Frog

Stripe-necked Terrapin
Spur-thighed Tortoise
Loggerhead Turtle (Caretta caretta)
Moorish Gecko
Turkish Gecko
Kotschy's Gecko
European Chameleon
Balkan Green Lizard
Aegean Wall Lizard
Snake-eyed Skink
Ocellated Skink
Balkan Whip Snake
Leopard Snake
Dice Snake
Cat Snake

Lesser White-toothed Shrew
Cretan White-toothed Shrew
Pygmy White-toothed Shrew

Blasius' Horseshoe Bat
Greater Horseshoe Bat
Lesser Horseshoe Bat
Lesser Mouse-eared Bat
Long-fingered Bat
Geoffroy's Bat
Whiskered Bat
Kuhl's Pipistrelle
Common Pipistrelle
Savi's Pipistrelle
Serotine Bat
Long-eared Bat
Schreiber's Bat
European Free-tailed Bat

Brown Hare
European Rabbit
Rock Mouse
Wood Mouse
Brown Rat
Black Rat
Western House Mouse
Cretan Spiny Mouse
Edible Dormouse
Beech Marten
Cretan Wildcat
Mediterranean Monk Seal
Agrimi Wild Goat/Kri Kri

Invertebrates include a huge number of species across all the main groups:

Annelida — segmented worms (earthworms, leeches, polychaetes)
Arthropoda — insects, arachnids, crustaceans
Cnidaria — jellyfishes, corals, sea anemones, hydras
Ctenophora - Comb jellies
Echinodermata — sea stars, sea urchins, sea cucumbers
Mollusca — squid, snails, bivalves
Nematoda — round worms
Nemertea — ribbon worms
Platyhelminthes — flat worms
Porifera — sponges

Click here for Guided Tours


Books can be purchased online by clicking on the links below :

Wildlife on Crete

Useful Links

Crete Natural History Museum


Archelon The Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece

Map of Wildlife on Crete



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