The Euganean Hills are a rather rich and varied environment if we take into account the number and type of animal species, particularly when comparing them to the surrounding plains, though a certain level of impoverishment has occurred over time.

Below is a brief summary of the classes of vertebrates and invertebrates that are typical of the Euganean Hills. For more information, see Project Fauna (Available only in Italian).

 

 

Mammals

Foxes, weasels and martens are among the carnivores, as are badgers. Common small insectivorous mammals include hedgehogs, moles and shrews; rodents include both common and edible dormice. Over time, the area has become overrun by deer and, above all, wild boar, which were imported into the area.

 

 

Birds


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 Over 120 species of birds have been observed, including sedentary, passage migrant and migratory birds. During the winter, the forests are home to woodcocks, song thrushes, redwings and fieldfares, while winter wrens, robins, gold-crested wrens, greenfinches and blue tits can be seen occupying the undergrowth. Spring sees the arrival of hoopoes, orioles and cuckoo birds, red-backed shrikes and long-tailed tits. Chaffinches, goldfinches and jays are present all year round. In open grassland areas, it is easy to spot calandra larks and crested larks and, in summer, the peculiar European nightjar, a twilight bird that nests on the ground with a flight similar to that of a small falcon. Diurnal birds of prey include many buzzards; there are also kestrels, sparrowhawks and sometimes Eurasian hobbies. The recent presence of nesting peregrine falcons near the Rocca Pendice site owned by Veneto’s regional government and run by the park authority has confirmed the environmental and faunal potential of the Euganean Hills, enough to justify their inclusion in the Natura 2000 Network’s list of European SPAs (Special Protection Areas). Among the nocturnal birds of prey you may come across long-eared owls, little owls, Eurasian pygmy owls, barn owls and tawny owls. Birds that are often found in flatland areas along rivers and near marshes are common, such as the grey heron and the white heron, little egrets and moorhens.

 

 

Reptiles

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There are several species of lizards and green lizards in hot, dry areas, while slow-worms prefer cool, damp places. There are snakes such as black Western whip snakes (known locally as scarbonasso); Aesculapian snakes are less common. Grass snakes and dice snakes are also found throughout the area. The asp viper has been observed on rare occasions and lives on higher ground in quiet areas. European pond turtles (Emys orbicularis) are also worth noting, though this species is threatened in its own habitat by the exotic pond slider (Trachemys scripta), the well-known turtle species raised in captivity that unfortunately is often released into the wild in swampy areas where it takes over from the local species.

 

 

ululoneAmphibians

Marshes are home to Italian tree frogs, other frogs and toads, particularly the European green toad. Rare Apennine yellow-bellied toads can also be found in the temporary puddles that form after spring showers. Some biotopes of stagnant water are home to Alpine newts and smooth newts; the fire salamander is very common and widespread in cool forest undergrowth, near springs and streams.

 


Fishes

There aren’t many areas that remain wet throughout the year in the Euganean Hills, enough to support fish. In canals and biotopes of the area surrounding the hills, there are many species of freshwater fish typical of rivers and streams found in the plains.

Invertebrates


podalirioThe presence of many butterfly and moth species, particularly the butterflies that inhabit vegri grasslands, is one of the most interesting and colourful features of Euganean fauna. Among the insects worth noting, we should also keep in mind many species of beetle, while if we consider other invertebrates, some of which are native and important from a scientific point of view, it is worth mentioning the small terrestrial crustacean Glomeris euganeorum and the European freshwater crayfish, a large crustacean that can grow up to 20 cm long, once considered a culinary delicacy and continually caught by valley dwellers but now only found in the purest streams of the Euganean Hills. Unfortunately, the latter species, which belongs to the category of native local fauna, is seriously threatened by the presence of American freshwater crayfish which, like many species that are not native to these hills, tend to overrun the area.