Fauna of Morocco: the most representative animals of the country
Morocco’s fauna is very rich, with numerous native species due in large part to the extensive geographical diversity, as well as a mixture of African and European species. Here is a brief review of the most representative animals of the country.
Mammals in the fauna of Morocco
Morocco‘s fauna is composed of a large number of mammals, spread throughout the country. These are the most numerous and/or famous.
It is not exactly the most numerous of the Moroccan fauna, as it is in fact in danger of extinction, but it is one of the most representative because this country is its native place and one of the few corners of the world where they can still be found in freedom (they also remain in this state in Gibraltar, although they were reintroduced). It is a quadruped that does not exceed 75 cm and 13 kg. Its hair is yellowish-brown and its hands, feet and face are pinkish.
Camel and dromedary
These animals are also very characteristic of the Moroccan fauna. In fact, it is probably the first animal that comes to mind when we think of this country, although in reality it is not present throughout its geography, but rather in the desert area. Also, note that we use two terms because they are indeed different animals. The camel or Bactrian camel has two humps and the dromedary (also called Arabian camel) has only one. And it is precisely the latter that lives in Morocco. It can reach 2 meters in height and its characteristic hump, where it stores fat as a food reserve in times of scarcity, can rise 30 cm above its back. They are rarely seen in the wild and those used in Morocco are domesticated. Some surprising facts about them: they can walk more than 150 km a day and spend several days without tasting a drop of water. Their meat and milk are also used as food, as well as their hide and hair for clothing and everyday utensils.
The Atlas lion is remarkable within the Moroccan fauna for being an autochthonous species… but on the verge of extinction. In fact, it has been declared extinct in the wild since the mid-19th century, so it only lives in zoological gardens in the country. And yet, there is no clear census of how many remain alive in captivity and in circuses, as they are sometimes crossbreeds with other subspecies for generations and generations. This is a subspecies of lion originating in North Africa and related to the Asian lion. It is imposing because it is considered to be the third largest lion in the world.
The largest in history, second only to two others that have been extinct since the Pleistocene: the cave and the American. The weight of males can exceed 250 kg, and that of females, 150 kg. Males have a long, thick black mane, which turns reddish around the face, while the body coat is light sandy and short. One of the few places where they can be found is the Rabat Zoo.
Also called the fennec fox or megalot, it is native to the deserts of North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. It is carnivorous and rarely exceeds 40 cm in length, not including the tail. It weighs barely one and a half kilograms, making it the smallest wild canid in the northern hemisphere. It has a shorter snout than the common fox, with triangular ears, a shorter tail and a long, soft and woolly coat, almost white straw-colored. It has a great capacity to remain for long periods without drinking water, in clear adaptation to this habitat.
Rabbit and hare
They are different species and are representative of the fauna of Morocco because they are present in the Mediterranean area. Rabbits are smaller and their ears are shorter. They weigh between one and five kilograms and measure between 30 and 60 cm in length, are gregarious and live in burrows. Hares, on the other hand, are the so-called Mediterranean hares, distributed in Africa, East Asia, the Iberian Peninsula and small areas of Italy. They are brown in color, with the tips of their ears stained black, gray or white. They do not dig burrows and when running in open fields they can reach up to 70 km/h.
The otter is a small aquatic carnivore that does not exceed 85 cm in length, not counting its long, fleshy tail. Its natural habitat is the river, so it is present in national parks where there are watercourses. In fact, they are indicators of good water quality and purity. Their legs are short and their fur is brown in color and is highly prized by the fur industry. They are nocturnal animals and excellent swimmers.
Interesting species native to the fauna of Morocco, which is also present in Algeria and is considered invasive in other countries, such as Spain (Lanzarote Island). Although the common species usually live in deciduous or coniferous forests, it is also possible to find other species adapted to live in very different habitats. This is the case of the Moorish squirrel, which inhabits refuge and stony areas. In fact, its geographical distribution ranges from Agadir to the Atlas Mountains. It has long and dense fur, with brownish bands and a reddish-brown head.
This is the common name for 16 different types of small antelopes, with forward-curved horns. Their natural habitat is the open plains or desert areas. It is precisely in the Sahara desert that we find the dama gazelle, which is the largest: up to 1.2 meters and sometimes weighing more than 70 kg. Two other varieties present in the Moroccan fauna are the dorcas and the cuvier.
Also often called African wolf, as it is a canid that prefers warmer environments than its European relative, it is widely represented in Morocco and North Africa. Another name it receives is the golden jackal, due to the color of its fur. It has an aggressive temperament, which it uses to scare off vultures and even attack other smaller canids. It does not usually exceed one meter in length or 15 kg in weight. It feeds on rodents, reptiles, birds, carrion and even insects.
The striped hyena is smaller than the spotted hyena, the largest of this species. In addition, its fur is longer, tan in color with black transverse stripes. Its mane is erectile. It has a less aggressive character and is less aggressive and has nocturnal habits. Although it is representative of the Moroccan fauna, it also inhabits all of North and East Africa (up to the border with Tanzania), India and southwest Asia up to the Arabian Peninsula. It can reach 1 meter in length and weigh 40 kg.
They are small rodents (no more than 20 cm long, not counting the tail), with silky, sand-colored fur. They live in colonies, dig burrows and feed on seeds, nuts, roots or insects. They are well adapted to the environment, as they need little water to survive.
Reptiles in the Moroccan fauna
Because of its morphology and climate, Africa is a continent where reptiles abound. And Morocco’s fauna is no exception. Here are some of the most numerous species in this country.
This name refers to several species of snakes, which have in common their great agility and their head with large eyes with rounded pupils. They usually exceed one meter in length, although they rarely reach 2 meters. They are usually harmless, although some species have grooved teeth through which they inject venom into their victims. They feed mainly on small mammals, amphibians and insects.
The name viper refers to a large family of venomous snakes, some of whose species are part of the Moroccan fauna, such as the bufadora or the horned viper. Their maximum length is one meter.. Their fangs fold inward at rest, but quickly move into attack position. Through them, they inject venom, which can be lethal due to its action on blood and tissues.
This is a venomous snake, famous for its intimidating appearance and potentially deadly bite. Their most striking feature is the hood they display when they are irritated or feel threatened. Most of them are native to Africa and the common cobra lives on the north coast of Africa, so it is part of the fauna of Morocco. Their venom is being researched for medical purposes.
Although there are many subspecies, the most significant of Morocco’s fauna is the spiny-tailed lizard. It is striking for its brownish color that turns to black over the years. They are vegetarians, a rarity in the species, and live in caves more than two meters deep. Another curiosity is that they are edible.
Birds in the fauna of Morocco
Birds occupy a place of special interest in the fauna of Morocco, as North Africa is a strategic place in international migrations. Given the enormous variety of species and subspecies, we refer here to the most representative families.
Medium to large wading birds that live in humid areas of all tropical and temperate zones of the world. In this case, they choose the Mediterranean coasts for breeding, but spend the winter in sub-Saharan Africa. They have elongated necks, legs and bills. Most herons feed on aquatic animals, which they catch without pursuit: they wait in shallow water or on land and spear it with their long bill.
This diurnal bird of prey has a geographic distribution throughout much of the northern hemisphere, which is why it is also referred to as a species of the fauna of Morocco. It is a symbol of courage and power due to its large size, its skill in the air and the inaccessibility of its nesting sites, located in wild and mountainous places. With a length close to one meter and a wingspan exceeding 2 meters. Females are larger than males. The plumage of the body is dark brown, with golden detail on the neck and back of the head: hence its name. They have powerful claws and a large, strong, pointed beak, which facilitates the task of removing meat from their prey. They feed mainly on mammals, and their prey can range from mice to deer. They often provide their young with other birds for their tender meat. They may also eat carrion if there is a shortage.
In addition, sea eagles and short-toed eagles may be present in the skies over the country and its coastline.
They are also diurnal birds of prey and some of their species are part of Morocco’s fauna. They are just over half a meter in length, with females being larger, and have a curved beak to better tear their prey. To hunt, they hover and drop down on their victim.
Palmiped aquatic birds that attract attention because they feed on fish, being very good swimmers and divers to get their prey, which they pass through their thin and curved beaks, with long and flexible necks. They have black plumage with white touches, which they lay out to dry in the sun after several dives. In this case, they are sedentary birds.
A common bird in the skies of the country is the common raven, which lives in much of the northern hemisphere, with the deserts of North Africa being its southernmost habitat. It reaches more than 60 cm in length and is usually satin black in color, while its beak is long and powerful. It is omnivorous, feeding on seeds, fruits, other birds, small mammals and carrion. Another species of crow that lives in North Africa, and is therefore referenced as an example of Moroccan fauna, is the brown-necked crow.
Birds with very tall legs and long, flexible necks. They also attract attention because of their color and their curved beak from the middle of their length. They feed on small invertebrates and plant material, which they extract by diving their heads into the water and filtering it through their beaks. Males of both subspecies can reach a height of 1.55 meters. One of the places where common flamingos can be sighted is the Moulay Bousselham lagoon, in the northern part of the Atlantic coast.