Animals of Crete

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Kri Kri goat of Crete

Animals of Crete
- the most common animals to be found on Crete these days are domesticated farm animals such as dogs, cats, goats, donkeys, sheep, pigs and chickens.

Native animals are rare due to the reduced habitat on the island, clearing has had a profound effect on the ecology of the island, and the dry Mediterranean soil and forests take a long time to regenerate.

The island is now dominated by grazing and agriculture; mostly olive and grape production. There are also a growing number of hot houses for other vegetables such as tomatoes and bananas. These traditional agricultural areas don’t hold much habitat for native animals and birds.

Hunting has also had a profound effect on both mammal and bird populations, and is still common today although protected by law. The Cretan character does not bend well to legislation and the message is not getting through to everybody regarding the low populations of many creatures still hunted in the mountains.

Below we will focus on the native animals of Crete.

Kri Kri goat of CreteAnimals of Crete - Kri Kri goats

The most famous of the Cretan animals is the mountain goat named the Kri Kri Capra aegagrus creticus.

These goats are thought to have been brought from Persia thousands of years ago. Most zoologists now treat the goat as native to Crete, and make a distinction between the Kri Kri and domestic goats.

Native animals of Crete - Kri Kri goatsKri Kri Capra aegagrus creticus

Logo of the Natural History Museum of Crete

Animals of Crete - Cretans identify strongly with the mountain goat in his independent, tough character that can survive in the rugged Cretan mountians. The Kri Kri is known as the "wild one" agrimi, αγρίμι. Many symbols of the Kri Kri and names in their honour can be found in Crete. For example the symbol of the Natural History Museum of Crete, above, shows the Kri Kri.

Samaria National Park Logo
Kri Kri goat depicted on a stamp

The Kri Kri is a protected species and in 1962 the Samaria Gorge National Park was declared in part to protect these mountain goat herds. Population programs have also been undertaken on some of the larger Cretan islands such as Dia, north of Iraklion, and Theodorou, opposite Plakias and Agii Pandes.

The conservation status of the Kri Kri is "vulnerable". The threats to its population are human disturbance such as recreation/tourism, which is currently ongoing, harvesting such as hunting/gathering which is also ongoing and changes in native species dynamics, such as breeding with other goats, which is also ongoing.

Both of Greece’s only two native mammal species are found on Crete – the Cretan Shrew and the Cretan Spiny Mouse.

Other mammals found on the island are the Cretan marten, badger and dormouse. There are also many reptiles, frogs, insects and molluscs adding to the ecology of the island. There are no deadly snakes, and although scorpion stings in Crete can be very painful to humans, they are not fatal.

Acrotiri Park

Park for Preservation of Flora and Fauna Logo

On Acrotiri peninsula in Chania is the Park for the Preservation of Fauna and Flora run by the Technical University of Crete. The park is open to visitors between 8am and 4.30pm Monday to Saturday. Here is a quote from the website about fauna in the park:

" There are small mammals such as hares Lepus europaeus, hedgehogs Erinaceus concolor, beech martens Martes foina, badgers Meles meles, least weasels Mustela nivalis, rats and mice Rattus sp. and Mus sp. and bats Tadarida sp., Rhinolophus sp. Pipistrellus sp., Plecotus sp..

The reptiles European cat snake Telescopus fallax, Balkan green lizard Lacerta trilineata Erhard's wall lizard Podarcis erhardii are also encountered in the Park. "

Below is a location map of the Acrotiri Park:

Location map of Park for the Preservation of Fauna and Flora

For more information see

Wild Cat

On April 10, 1996 an Italian expedition from the University of Perugia came to Crete with the aim of studying the carnivorous fauna of Crete. It was then that the legendary "Cretan Wild Cat" became reality. A wild cat of Crete was captured in a trap. The existence of this animal was not in question and its capture gave a new perspective to the origins of the Cretan fauna.

Fourogatos - artistic impression

Animals of Crete

Kri Kri goat of Crete

Kri Kri - Capra aegagrus creticus

Spiny Mouse of Crete

Spiny Mouse of Crete - Acomys minous

Lesser White Toothed Shrew - Crocidura suaveolens

Lesser White Toothed Shrew - Crocidura suaveolens

Beech Marten - Martes foina

Beech Marten - Martes foina

Badger - Meles meles

Badger - Meles meles

Emporor Dragonfly by Jelger Herder

Emporor Dragonfly - Anax imperator

By Benny Trapp - Own work, CC BY 3.0,

Cretan Frog - Pelophylax cretensis

Leopard Snake - Zamenis situla

Leopard Snake - Zamenis situla

Discover the animals of Crete on your walks and hikes in Crete, see our ecology and conservation pages here

Leave only footprints - We Love Crete

Leave only footprints when you walk and hike in Crete - take all your rubbish with you and don't build any of those silly piles of rocks. Leave it as you found it for the local animals.

Bird Watching in Crete

Gypaetus barbatus Bearded Vulture on the wing (image by Jayhem)

Raptors and other birds can be seen in many areas of Crete. Cliffs and mountains are home to the Bearded Vulture - above - as well as Golden Eagles, Griffon Vultures and the Peregrine Falcon.

Mount Koutroulis, Mount Agios Dikaios and Modia Plateau in south-western Crete are an important biotope for the rare Bearded Vulture.

The Bramiana Reservoir inland from Ierapetra is a good spot to see all birds of Crete, especially birds of prey as well as gulls and migratory birds. Keep your eyes alert to see Eleanora's Falcon.

Our bird page shows you some of the best birding locations in Crete from west to east as well as a list of the most common birds and their scientific names.

Getting Here

Animals of Crete - to get to Crete, you can fly from Athens with Olympic Air or Aegean Airlines, there are many flights per day between spring and autumn.

The flight time is 1 hour and you can choose to arrive into Heraklion Airport (code HER) or Chania Airport (code CHQ).

The ferries depart from Pireaus port of Athens daily - the journey time is around 9 hours and you can choose between Souda Port (Chania) or Heraklion Port.

More information for these services is below.

Car hire in Crete is a really good idea as it is a large island 60 km by 260 km. There is so much to explore.

When you book with our car rental partners - Rental Centre Crete - you are supporting a local company with excellent service and an easy online booking procedure. We are sure you will be well looked after by the team. Choose from hybrid or non-hybrid vehicles.

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Anastasi & Apostoli - authors of We Love Crete

"We trust you have enjoyed these tips from the team at We Love Crete. Evíva!"

Contact us with further questions or feedback. We love to hear about your travels in Kríti and Greece. Let us know of any updates or additions, errors or omissions. Help us make this website the best it can be. Kaló Taxidí!

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