Siberia is the largest region in Russia covering a staggering 13,100,000km2 (over 75% of the entire country!). Yet, despite its size, it has around half the total population of the UK. With this in mind, it is no surprise that the largely uninhabited lands of Siberia have long been the home to some of the world’s most spectacular animals dating from the Woolly mammoths of the prehistoric age to the magnificent Amur Siberia tigers that still roam its forests.
This post will reveal 8 of Siberia’s most intriguing animals that you should keep an eye out for if heading out on your own Siberian adventure!
The king of Siberian wildlife, the Amur tiger is a solitary animal hidden deep within the woodlands and birch forests of the Siberian heartlands. Amur tigers have been hunted near to extinction on several occasions, with only 40 reported to remain in the 1940s. In the last few decades measures have been taken to protect these majestic animals and Russia has since granted the species full protection which has seen numbers rise considerably. Amur tigers have been known to grow up to 10 feet in length and can weigh up to an impressive 300kg.
A majestic and capable predator said to wander the forest-steppes, the Eurasian lynx is renowned for its ability to adapt to its surroundings. This lynx has been known to subtly change it colourings from a short reddish-brown coat is temperate climates to a long silky greyish coat during the Winter. Hunting had almost driven the lynx to extinction in the 19th and 20th centuries across many areas of Europe and Scandinavia, however the Eurasian lynx is now considered to be one of the few large cats in the world to have a stable population with around 10,000 said to exist.
East Siberian Brown bear
East Siberian Brown Bear
Кирилл Уютнов / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)
One of many species of brown bear that inhabit Siberia and its neighbouring regions, the East Siberian brown bear can be distinguished by two characteristics: the size of its skull and its disinterest in honey. This bear is known for being bolder than its counterparts (Eurasian and Kamchatka brown bears) and is said to hunt anything from mountain hares to moose.
The most endangered of all large cats in Russia and perhaps the world with only around 100 remaining in the wild, the Amur leopard is now a rare sight even in its native Siberia. They can be distinguished from other subspecies of leopard since they have a much larger body size, thicker coats to deal with Winter climates and unique thicker patterning. Amur leopards are solitary creatures and efficient nocturnal predators.
Efforts are being taken by the WWF and other Russian organisations to protect the Amur leopard. You can find out more about how you can help by visiting their website.
Now a popular pet all across the world, the Siberian husky is instantly recognisable for its thick fur, wolf-like features and distinct markings. Siberian huskies originated in the North East of Russia and have been bred by the Chukchi people for sled-pulling which is now a major tourist attraction in the region. They thrive in the harshest Winter climates, making stellar work-dogs and terrific companions.
Blakiston’s fish owl
Blakiston's Fish Owl
Robert tdc / CC BY-SA
A secretive species found only in Japan and the Russian Far East, Blakiston’s fish owl is thought to be one of the most vulnerable owls in existence with only 1000 pairs being recorded in the wild. The owl was named after English naturalist Thomas Blakiston, who recorded the first specimen in Hakodate on Hokkaidō, Japan in 1883. This owl is thought to be the heaviest owl in the world weighing around 3-3.5kg on average, as well as one of the largest along with the Eurasian Eagle-Owl and the Great Grey Owl, also found in Siberia.
Arguably the cutest animal to roam Siberia, the Siberian chipmunk is the only known species of chipmunk to exist outside of North America and is a native to East Asia. Typically, Siberian chipmunks have 4 white stripes and 5 dark stripes along the back. They are smaller than the average squirrel at around 18–25 cm long, a third of which is the tail.
Siberian Musk Deer
ErikAdamsson / CC0
Musk deer are perhaps the world’s most unusual species of deer but also the most prized. Unlike other male deer, Musk deer have tusks rather than horns or antlers which are used to warn off other males during mating season. The gland from male musk deer are often used in fragrances, cosmetics and medicines around the world. They average around 3ft in length and weigh around 10kg.