Despite its small size, Liechtenstein is home to an exceptionally wide range of animals. Around 55 mammals are native to Liechtenstein (Switzerland has 83), including 17 species of bat (26), 140 species of bird (205), 7 species of reptile (16), 10 species of amphibian (20) and 24 species of fish (67).
The great difference in altitude between the lowest elevation (430m) and the highest elevation (2599m) means that Liechtenstein is home to a very diverse range of fauna. In the Alpine area you will find most animals commonly found in mountainous environments, including the big four deer, chamois, ibex and golden eagle as well as the snow hare and the rock ptarmigan native to the northern Alps.
The transition from the valley floor to the mountains is characterised by forests. It is here that deer, foxes and badgers live, though they can also be found near the valley floor and at relatively high altitudes. The black woodpecker, the rare white-backed woodpecker and the eagle owl are all also native to these forests. While few of the animals living high in the mountains and in the forests further below are endangered, the situation is much more precarious in Liechtenstein's wetlands. In an attempt to preserve what is left of these fens and marshes, the government has created two protected areas: Schwabbrünnen (50 hectares) and Ruggeller Riet (96 hectares). Wetlands are home to a wide range of plants and, as a consequence, form the habitat of many animals.
For example, a total of 408 species of beetle have been found in Ruggeller Riet. The area also has 82 species of spider, including 5 species that have only been found in a few other locations in the heart of Central Europe. Ruggeller Riet is also home to many species of bird. Around 30 species of nesting bird are native to the region as well as the globally endangered corncrake, the quail, the whinchat, the corn bunting and the common grasshopper warbler.
HORRID SPIDER? That is certainly not how Holger Frick responds when he sees a spider. While the hairy eight-legged animals trigger fear and panic in some people, they exercise a magical attraction over the 36 year-old from Balzers. Read more about biologist Holger Frick