One of the most distinctive of Iceland animals is this breed, which descends from Norse horses. They are fluffy, sturdy and short in stature, rarely growing taller than 1.5 metres.
Why are Icelandic horses unique? Essentially its thanks to the regulations on import and export. It's illegal to import horses to Iceland and, if one leaves the island, it can never return. This is the protect the pure breed and to keep disease out of the country.
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Icelandic puffins are usually out and about in the Spring or Summer which is when 60% of their global population nest in Iceland, which equates to approximately 8 to 10 million each year.
These sea birds nest among craggy rocks and perch along cliffsides, often with freshly caught fish dangling from their bright orange beaks.
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The arctic fox is the only land animal native to Iceland. They survived on the island through the last ice age and stuck around once the thick glacial ice receded.
This adorable creature is indigenous to Iceland's neighbouring countries- Greenland, Northern Norway and Lapland.
Did you know, that the white arctic fox changes the colour of its coat for camouflage? They are white in winter but brown in summer!
These mammals were brought over from Norway in the 18th century for herding, but reindeer husbandry never really took off. As a result, they are not found roaming free in Iceland.
Reindeers are only located in East Iceland and if you visit in summer, you will have more chance of spotting them around Mount Snæfell, Vesturöræfi and Brúaröræfi .
Icelandic sheep are an essential source of food and warm for the islanders. in fact, the sheep's fleeces are used to make Icelandic wool that is warm, light and waterproof.
These fluffy fellas roam the countryside and you may come across them along roadsides or crossing the highway. Al the more reason to remain vigilant behind the wheel!
Iceland is considered the whale-watching capital of Europe because of the variety of whale species that dwell in the waters surrounding this far northern island.
You can embark on many whale-watching tours in Iceland and could spot one of these gentle giants:
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Of course, the islanders have sheepdogs! You may spot one in Iceland if you visit or pass a farm in the countryside.
These energetic dogs are experts in herding sheep, of course, with sharp hearing and impressive ability.
Like the whales, there are many different species of seals located in Iceland. Some dwell in the seas by Reykjavik, so keep an eye out for them if you take a stroll along the harbourfront.
You can also see them playing in the icy waters of the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon in South Iceland (which happens to be one of the top sights in the country).
the different species of seals are as follows:
- Earless Seals
- Ringed Seal
- Bearded Seal
- Harp Seal
- Hooded Seal
- Grey Seal
- Harbor Seal
The arctic tern has a reputation for being fiercely protective of their nests. These little white birds, with characteristic blackheads and sharply angular wings, will dive aggressively at anyone who wanders too close for comfort during nesting season.
Dolphins & Porpoises
If you are on a whale-watching tour, you will also have the opportunity to spot the dolphins and porpoises in Iceland.
Dolphins usually travel in pods of up to 100 and can be recognised by the white stripes on the flanks and bellies.
Porpoises, on the other hand, are the smallest cetaceans in Iceland, with a short nose and oval shape. You could spot them from the coast as they tend to stay closer to the shore compared to dolphins and whales.
- White-beaked Dolphin
- Harbour Porpoise
- Atlantic White-Sided Dolphin
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These fascinating birds populate Icelands coastal areas and meadows. These wading birds are a stunning black and white, with a long, needle-like orange beak and bring red eyes.
Maybe Oystercatchers migrate to South to Western Europe in the autumn, however, some stay put in Iceland. this means that you could see them in Winter as well as the Summer.
Icelanders know spring has arrived when the golden plover arrives!
Like many other birds in Iceland, the golden plover spends the spring and summer in Iceland before migrating South for the autumn and winter.
With its white and grey feathers, the Gyrfalcon is considered the most beautiful falcon. If you look up to the skies in Iceland, you can witness the majestic Grfalon circling above.
The Gyrfalcon is the largest of the falcon group and is fast and powerful which is why its the Icelands national animal.
You can see these mighty birds in Arctic coastal and tundra regions, such as Iceland. You can spot them around Lake Myvatn swooping gracefully down to the lake to catch its dinner.