croatia wildlife

National Animal of Croatia: The Symbol of a Country

Ever wondered about the national animal of Croatia as a symbol of the country?

To me, Croatia is a beautiful country located in the Balkans. To be more precise, it’s between the Adriatic Sea and the Dinaric Alps. Croatia is known for its beautiful coastal towns, rich history, and impressive national parks. But what about the national animal of Croatia and it’s wildlife?

The country home to many unique and interesting animals. But one animal in particular stands out as a great representation of the country’s rich culture and natural history.

Today, I’ll take you on an interesting journey into the world of Croatia’s national animal and tell you more about the many interesting animals that live in this beautiful country.

But without further ado, let’s dive in together!

What is the National Animal of Croatia?

There is one animal that really stands out among the many kinds of animals that live in Croatia. Still curious what this animal is?

Well, this is the Marten, Croatia’s national animal. This small animal is called a kuna in the Croatian language.

In case you didn’t know, it belongs to the Mustelidae family, which also includes weasels, otters, and ferrets.

The marten is actually quite a cute, beautiful animal with a slim, agile body, a bushy tail, and fur that runs from a soft yellowish color to a deep, rich brown. But it also has super sharp teeth and can cause a lot of damage!

A marten in the national animal in Croatia
A marten

As you know by now, the Marten is a very important animal in Croatian culture and history. Funny enough, the name of the Croatian currency, the kuna, comes from this animal (Croatia recently adopted the Euro as the official currency so the kuna has become a collectors item).

But why did Croatia adopt the marten as their national symbol? This is actually a throwback to the Middle Ages(!), when marten fur was a very valuable commodity used in trade.

Nowadays, the Marten is not only a reminder of Croatia’s interesting history, but also a beautiful example of how culture and nature are so closely tied together there.

The National Animal of Croatia: FAQs

Below are some questions and extra information related to the national animal of Croatia along with my answers.

What animals are unique to Croatia?

Animals from all over the world live in Croatia’s many different environments, from its sun-drenched coasts and idyllic islands to its lush woods and rough mountains. Some of these species are native to the area, which means you can only find them in Croatia.

  • The Dalmatian Pelican: This is a large bird that lives along the coasts of Croatia. It is one of the heaviest flying bird types in the world. The Dalmatian Pelican is an attraction to see because of how it looks and how big its wings are.
  • Griffon Vulture: These beautiful birds build their nests on the rough rocks of Cres Island. You could say that they enrich the skies of Croatia because of how big they are and how high they fly.
  • The Croatian Sheepdog: This is a strong breed of dog that has been a part of country life in Croatia for hundreds of years. With their intelligence and agility, these dogs have been herding sheep in the fields of Croatia for years.

    They have become a part of the country’s farming practises and will probably never leave them.
  • Karst Shepherd: The Karst Shepherd is also a dog breed that comes from Croatia. It was specifically bred to protect animals. These friendly, protective dogs are a big part of country life in Croatia.
  • Olms: These are very strange aquatic salamanders that live in underground water in the Dinaric Alps.

    Because of their long bodies, clear skin, and the fact that they live their whole lives in the dark, underground, they add a sense of wonder and intrigue to Croatia’s wide range of species. I’ve also seen them with my wife in Montenegro!

As you can see, Croatia has quite some unique animals. If you’re a true wildlife fan, this country is a great place to explore. Don’t forget to bring your camera!

Are there wild animals in Croatia?

Absolutely! There are many different kinds of animals in the wild places of Croatia. Croatia is like a sanctuary for all kinds of animals, from big mammals to different kinds of birds, reptiles, and amphibians.

  • Brown bears: Wild brown bears mainly live in the mountainous parts of Croatia. This makes it one of the few places in Europe where these beautiful animals can still be found in their native habitat.
  • Wolves: Their numbers have gone down, but small packs of wolves still roam the wild areas of Croatia. They represent the wild spirit of the country’s natural settings.
  • Lynxes: These animals are beautiful, elusive cats that live in the mountains of Croatia. They add a sense of mystery to the country’s wildlife.
  • Eagles and Falcons: These are very powerful birds of prey that you’ll see quite often in the skies of Croatia. Their impressive shapes show how many different kinds of birds live there.

Again, plenty of wildlife for you to discover in beautiful Croatia!

What animals are on the Croatian flag?

If you look closely, you’ll see that there are three different types of animals on the Croatian national flag.

There are three leopards on Dalmatia’s crest (in the middle), a goat on Istria’s (right from the leopards, and a marten on Slavonia’s crest (completely on the right in the photo below).

The Croatian flag
The Croatian flag

The main symbol is a red and white checkerboard or chessboard, also known as the šahovnica. The national coat of arms, which is also shown on the flag, does have some historical images in it. You can see the five coats of arms with crowns on them.

A nice fun fact is that each one represents a historical region in Croatia.

What is the oldest symbol of Croatia?

The šahovnica, a red-and-white checkerboard or chessboard design, is the oldest known symbol of Croatia. If you’re a football fan, you’ll definitely recognize this when looking at their shirts!

There are different theories about where this symbol came from in history, but it is clear that it has been linked to Croatia since at least the 10th century.

The šahovnica was used to represent Croatian kings and has been an important part of the country’s past ever since.

Nowadays, the šahovnica is a very important part of the Croatian flag and its coat of arms. It is a shield with 25 red and white (silver) areas that are arranged in a way that shows the country’s long history and culture.

This sign has been around for a very long time and is both the oldest and one of the most well-known ways of representing Croatia.

The Wrap-Up: National Animal of Croatia

Croatia is a country with a long history, a very diverse culture, and stunning natural beauty.

This is reflected perfectly in its wildlife, where every animal, from the smallest bug to the biggest mammal, has a story to tell about the land and the people who live there.

However, the Marten is the country’s national animal. Let’s say that it’s a unique mix of the country’s historical roots and natural beauty.

But the Marten is not the only animal that lives in Croatia. From the Dalmatian Pelican and Griffon Vulture, which are only found in Croatia, to the wild brown bears, wolves, and lynxes that roam its landscapes, the wildlife of Croatia never ceases to amaze and amazement.

If you’d like to read more about national animals in this region, check out my posts about the national animal of Hungary and the national animal of Poland.

I would definitely recommend to discover this country for yourself and to experience what Croatia has to offer!

If you’re into animals and love to spend your time swimming in Croatian waters, check out my post about sharks in Croatia!

Your restless voyager,


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