Cyprus fauna

With the expression of fauna we mean the total of animal organisms in an area, such as mammals, birds, amphibians, insects, fish, different microorganisms and other species which are the subject of study in Zoology.

The natural treasure of our Cyprus, the fauna and flora are the result of the evolution of species in time, under the effect of specific weather conditions the neighbouring with three continents (Europe, Asia, Africa), the long-term isolation as an island and the human effect. The variety of places with specific microclimatic and typographical characteristics, the variety of territorial and geological substrates and the variety of forest and geological vegetations, in our country contribute to the creation of a marvellous variety of habitats which satisfy the demands of the numerous species in the animal kingdom.

Until today, 30 mammal species, 25 amphibian and reptile species, 370 bird species, 250 fish species and about 6000 insect species have been reported in Cyprus.

Mammals

From the archaeological remains, we can conclude that in the ancient times many mammals such as elephants and hippopotamuses lived in Cyprus. Due to the lack of water, food and enemies, these animals transformed into pygmies and adapted to the specific environment of the island. With the first human migration in Cyprus, 8-10 thousand years ago they disappeared, obviously because of the intense hunting which brought the animals into a difficult position in addition to the limited extent of the island. The skeletons of the pygmy elephants and hippopotamuses were recently found in caves at the Akrotiri in the area of “Aetokremos”.

During the Neolithic and Chalcolithic ages, new mammals appeared such as the Mesopotamian deer (Dama dama mesopotamica), the European deer (Dama dama) the common deer (Cervus elaphus), the ferret (Mustela nivalis), the wildcat (Felis Silvestris), the fox (Vulpes vulpes), the mufflon (Ovis gmelini ophion), the hare (Lepus europaeus) and other mice species. Some of these were transferred as domestic animals by the first settlers. Many of these escaped and lived in the wild, but it seems that many were hunted or disappeared, and only a few managed to survive and maintain until today.

Birds of Cyprus

The geographic position of Cyprus makes it one of the most important migration habitats. International organisations which deal with bird life consider Cyprus to be one of the greatest areas of biological variety for birds all over the world and unique in the area of Europe for endemic birds. The birds which have been reported in Cyprus until today come to 370 species. Out of these, 53 are permanent residents and the other 317 are migrative. Out of the migrative birds, 237 are usual visitors while the other 80 are rare or very rare visitors.

The number of visitors especially in the winter, varies from year to year and depends on the climatological changes in North and Eastern Europe as well as the rainfall in Cyprus. The total number of birds which have reproduced even once is 114. Six of these birds which live permanently in Cyprus are the following:

  • Triporiasis (Sylvia melanthorax)
  • Skalifourta (Oenanthe cypriaca)
  • Dendrovatis (Certhia brachydactyla dorotheae)
  • Kissa (Garrulus glandarius glaszneri)
  • Thoupi (Otus scops cyprius)
  • Pembetsos (Parus ater Cypriotes)

Migration is a phenomenon which is repeated around the same period every year. The weather conditions in Autumn and Spring are characterised by mild winds, excellent visibility and minimum clouds which helps the birds during their migration from Europe towards the heart of the African Continent and vice versa.

Cyprus reptiles and Amphibians

About 22 reptile species and 3 amphibian species decorate the Cypriot habitats, each one with its own presence and grace. The reptiles include 3 turtle species, 11 lizard species out of which 4 are endemic. There are three out of the eight snakes which are poisonous.

Amphibians

Within the amphibians, 3 frog species are included:

  • The Dendrovias frog (Hyla savignyi)
  • The Voltovias frog (Rana ridibunda)
  • The Iridizan frog (Bufo viridis)

Cyprus turtles

Within the turtles, there are 2 sea turtles which visit the sandy beaches of the island to lay their eggs:

Cyprus lizards

Cyprus insects

In concern to the study of the rich world of insects in Cyprus, emphasis has been placed on species which have economic important for Agriculture, humans and pets. According to the existing information, the number of insects in Cyprus is estimated to be 6000 species. The queens of all insects are the butterflies, which belong to the class of depidopterous. They are especially loved, symbols of life and beauty, they gather the interest of researches. There are 52 types of butterflies in Cyprus, 9 of which are endemic.

 

Cyprus Animals - Full list

Cyprus mouflon (Ovis gmelini ophion) is a type of wild sheep which is unique in the whole world and is the largest mammal in Cyprus.
The bat, a valued element of the Cypriot flora, is one of the peculiar categories of mammals. It contains 16 different species. Its peculiar way of life the odd shape and the prejudices lead humans to be indifferent towards these species.
The deer (Dama dama mesopotamica) whose bones have been found in various areas across Cyprus island, seems to have disappeared recently, about 400 years ago probably due to the intense hunting.
The fox (Vulpes vulpes indutus) an endemic species is the only carnivorous mammal in Cyprus. Even though it can be found in various areas its numbers have decreased, especially between 1970 and 1990 since it was considered as being bad for livestock and prey.
The hare (Lepus europaeus cyprius) endemic species is the main and largest prey species on the island. It lives in all the districts of Cyprus in satisfactory numbers despite the powerful pressure which it takes from the intense hunt.
The Kourkoutas (Laudakia stellio cypriaca), a very common kind cannot be unnoticed. This lizard is a fast runner and well adapted to most environments while it stays away from wetland. When it isn’t running it remains with its head up high, and the front part of its body lifted on its front legs.
The porcupine (Hemiechinus auritus dorotheae), an endemic shy animal which pays with a lot of blood on the road every year, mainly in spring and summer. The procupine can be found in all districts of Cyprus. It is common in the low areas and its population decreases in the higher areas. It can be found up to a height of 1600m.
The sweet water turtle (Mauremys caspica rivulata) which is in danger of extinction due to the drying out of the wetlands and rivers. The sweet water turtle lives in streams with low speed, rich with aquatic vegetation mainly in areas around Nicosia and Polis Chysochous.