11 Unique Animal Species to Spot While Hiking
The island offers a wide variety of untamed beauty that nature lovers will be thrilled to explore, while out on one of Cyprus’s many nature trails. Home to numerous local plants and flowers, Cyprus also hosts unique animal species; some that are endangered. You might get a chance to spot some of them on nature trails around the island.
Here are 11 of the unique species that you should look for, while hiking the island.
Cyprus Mouflon Ovis orientalis ophion
Certainly the most well-known one is the Cyprus Mouflon, a beautiful, big-horned mammal residing in the mountains. Exclusively found in Cyprus, it usually lives in the forest slopes of Paphos and is believed to have descended from wild sheep. Today the rare mouflon is a protected species and the national animal of Cyprus, often used as a symbol on various logos, stamps and coins.
Cyprus Spiny Mouse
A small nocturnal endemic animal you might have difficulty spotting on your hike, as they are mostly active during dark hours and prefer drier grounds.
Cyprus Scops Owl
This small owl is one of four owl species living in Cyprus. It rests in forests, gardens, farms and can be seen sitting very still on tree branches. That is if you can spot it, as it camouflages very well amongst the trees. It is thought that it is easier to hear the Cyprus Scops Owl than to actually see the one though. Their distinctive cry is usually heard at night, especially during a full moon.
Cyprus Whip Snake
Amongst the various snake species slithering around Cyprus due to its warm, dry climate, the Cyprus Whip Snake is a rare find. It is of grey or black colour with thin white lines and prefers wet shady areas near streams and bushes, usually around Troodos and Paphos. You’ll be happy to know that it is completely harmless as it feeds on lizards, frogs and insects.
Cyprus Warbler (bird)
This small bird breeds only in Cyprus, though it migrates in the winter to the neighbouring countries of Jordan, Israel and Egypt. Adult males are grey black, with a black head, white malar streaks and black streaked underparts. Females are mainly grey above, with a greyer head. Find it in rocky slopes between bushes used for nesting. Chances are their sharp song will give away their whereabouts.
Despite its name, this long-tailed lizard can be found in more places other than Troodos. It has a light brown colour with thin white stripes and can be easily found on nature trails as they prefer rocky, forested areas and fields. If found during the months of April and May, give them some space as they lays eggs during these months.
Cyprus Water Frog Pelophylax cypriensis
If you’re having a break while on your hike, cool off by a stream and keep an eye out for this earth-coloured frog. Just like all frogs in Cyprus, the Cyprus Water Frog is harmless and likes to feed on insects, mosquitos and even lizards. This rare species has been under the radar until recently when it was noted on records in 2012.
Cyprus Grayling Butterfly
During the spring and summer months you’ll spot various types of butterflies fluttering about yet the Cyprus Grayling heads to the mountains during the summer months, returning to coastal regions in autumn. Known to be isolated species, it angles its wings to leave no shadow making it harder to spot them and even more difficult to photograph them. Quite the photographer’s challenge.
Cyprus Wheatear (bird)
April to June is the perfect period to find this bird as it sings for hours on end during those months, usually from a high location. Similar to the Warbler, it also solely breeds in Cyprus and migrates in the winter. Its black feathers and white head tip make it very distinctive and it can be found all over the island. It nests in just about anything – holes in the wall, in trees or even between stones.
Cyprus Meadow Brown Butterfly
As you’re seeking shade during your nature trail walk, you might be lucky to see this rapid-flying butterfly which usually chooses refreshing places such as woods and orchards. They are most active from April to October and are considered an endemic Cyprus species. A distinctive trait of this butterfly is definitely its yellow strike.
Paphos Blue Butterfly
You’ll have a better chance to photograph rare butterflies with the Paphos Blue Butterflies due to its high population which can be found all over the island. Males have blue wings whereas females have greyish-brown.
Careta Careta Turtles
This popular turtle species can be seen seasonally across the Mediterranean; they visit Cyprus in late May and August to lay their eggs when the temperature is warmer. As a protected species threatened by extinction, their allocated nesting areas are well-kept and respected and they can lay up to 80 eggs. When baby turtles hatch they slowly make their way back to the ocean which is an incredibly magical moment for those witnessing it in the Paphos region. Visitors are advised nonetheless, to be very careful so as to help protect the turtles.