Whatever your reasons for seeking removals to Switzerland, you will benefit on arrival from the country's beautiful scenery, which is home to a wide range of animals and birds including Eurasian Lynxes, Polecats and Wolves. Here we look at some of the animals you are likely to come across in the Swiss countryside, where you’re most likely to see them and what you should do if you meet one.
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Meanwhile, read on to find out more about the animals native to Switzerland.
Red Squirrel - Sciurus vulgaris
Red squirrel numbers are declining throughout northern Europe as they are being displaced by greys. For your best chance of seeing one, head off into the woods around Arosa in Grisons to the east of Switzerland or to the cantons of Ticino, Uri, Glarus and St. Gallen. You will most likely spot them up in the branches of the evergreen and deciduous trees or foraging for nuts and berries, green shoots, leaves and tree bark. Red Squirrels are not considered dangerous, but as with every wild animal it is best that you observe them from a distance.
Snow Vole - Chionomys nivalis
Snow voles live high up in the mountains of Switzerland, anywhere between 1,000 and 4,000 metres. They live amongst rock crevices and boulders, a difficult terrain which they are able to navigate with ease, keeping them safe from predators. They feast on the roots of various alpine plants, digging tunnels with numerous exits, a nest chamber and storeroom. Snow voles present no danger to humans and since they live at high altitude, and unlike their lowland cousins they are not considered pests.
Brown Long-Eared Bat - Plecotus auritus
The best place to see a brown long-eared bat is on an envelope. In 2012 it was voted Swiss “animal of the year” and it now features on the 100 Ct stamp. In real life though, they are that bit more elusive, operating mainly at night. Their main diet is moths which they catch using echo location as they fly over open areas such as grasslands and alpine meadows.
Eurasian Lynx – Lynx lynx
Europe’s third largest predator, the Lynx, was at one time extinct in Switzerland but successful re-introduction has seen their numbers steadily increase. It has a short body, long legs and large feet with sharp retractile claws, the ideal combination if your days are spent hunting in trees and over rocks. It has been said that lynx are totally harmless to humans but known as the “Tiger of the North” they are still wild cats, so proceed with caution if you should you happen to see one.
Beaver - Castor fiber
Beavers are the second-largest rodent in the world after the capybara, and the Swiss authorities are doing all they can to encourage growth in their numbers. Beavers were once extinct in Switzerland but thanks to conservation efforts by Pro Natura, the country's leading conservation agency, they now number 700-800 and rising. The best places to look for Beavers are in and around Switzerland’s many rivers and waterways.
Grey Wolf - Canis lupus
Previously extinct in Switzerland, the grey wolf is making a bit of a comeback, albeit slowly. In 2009 it was estimated that there were around a dozen wolves in the country so your chances of seeing one in the wild are very slim. If you are moving to Valais in western Switzerland or to Lucerne in the centre, you may be in luck though. If you do see a wolf, do not run, wolves are coursing predators, running will just encourage them to chase.
European Polecat - Mustela putorius
Polecats are widely dispersed in Switzerland, enjoying mixed forest locations. They are usually dark brown in colour with pale under-sides. They are shorter and more compact than their cousins, the mink and weasel, and have a more powerful skull and jaw. Their diet consists of small rodents, birds, amphibians and reptiles, and they have perfected the rather macabre art of crippling their prey before storing it to eat later. They are not known to be dangerous to humans and are for the most part quiet shy creatures.
Mountain Hare - Lepus timidus
Another one to be commemorated on a Swiss stamp, the mountain hare has been given a face value of 50+10 centimes. To see them gambolling on a Swiss mountainside, though, is worth a lot more than that. The mountain hare’s winter coat is spectacularly white allowing it to blend in well in snowy conditions and it has adapted to these conditions in its diet too. They are quire happy grazing on twigs and tree bark when snow and ice cover the ground.
Red Deer - Cervus elaphus
Although red deer were extinct in Switzerland over 100 years ago, they were re-introduced and are now flourishing. One of the largest of the deer species, they can usually be found in lowland forest settings and in herds numbering 30-40 or so. To catch sight of them in numbers, head for the slopes of the Engadine, Val Müstair, and Vinschgau when the rutting season has finished around mid to late October.
Wild Ibex - Capra ibex
The Ibex was hunted to near extinction in parts of Switzerland. Upon re-introduction, they were given protected status and since then have been doing rather well. Pro Natura named the Ibex "animal of the year" in 2006, 100 years after its reintroduction into Switzerland. Back then their numbers were reduced to just a few dozen throughout the world. Nowadays, the result of breeding and conservation projects, there are more than 14,000 in Switzerland alone.
Marmot - Marmota marmota
Found in the Swiss Alps at anywhere between 2500 and 10,000 feet, Marmots use their strong front claws to burrow through frost hardened soil and build their underground hotels. Over time they will create a complex series of tunnels with rooms off to house their growing family. Nine months of the year is spent hibernating in preparation for their mating season which follows immediately afterwards. You will often see them standing guard, watching for predators or on the hunt for grasses, herbs, grain, insects, spiders and worms.
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