Finland’s wonderful wildlife

4 minute read

Credits:: Antero Aaltonen

Let’s go animal spotting in Finland

Finland's vast green forests, beautiful Baltic islands, windswept arctic fells, and countless blue lakes are home to some amazing wildlife and animal watching.

These pristine and picturesque landscapes provide habitats for many wild animals and birds, including bears, wolves, lynxes, eagles, cranes, swans and the world’s rarest seal.

Birdwatchers flock to Finland to find species that are hard to spot anywhere else in Europe. Keen wildlife photographers also come here to enjoy excursions and facilities that enable them to get spectacular shots of amazing animals in their natural habitats.

Some great places to look for these creatures are Finland’s 41 national parks, which are open year-round. View our wildlife gallery to see some of this beautiful country’s most iconic animals and birds.

Credits: Guido Muratore

Lynx

These beautiful big cats have become more prevalent within Finland’s forests in recent years. They’re hard to spot, though, as their excellent senses of sight, smell and hearing enable them to keep well away from humans.

Credits: Jari Peltomäki

Whooper swan

The graceful white whooper swan is Finland’s national bird. Flocks of swans and cranes returning from their southerly wintering areas are welcomed by Finns as heralds of the much-anticipated arrival of the spring.

Credits: Ismo Pekkarinen

Saimaa ringed seal

These rare inland seals have adapted to their freshwater home since they were cut off from the sea in Lake Saimaa – Finland’s largest lake – after the Ice Age. And they are only found in Lake Saimaa, making them the rarest seal in the world. Thanks to conservation measures, their numbers have recently risen to over 400, but Saimaa ringed seals are still seriously endangered.

Credits: Teuvo Juvonen / Vastavalo

Great grey owl

The concentric rings around the eyes of these huge northern owls make them look perpetually surprised. Be aware that great grey owls can get aggressive if you approach their nests or young.

Credits: Jari Peltomäki

Wolf

Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf? Not you! In fact, there’s probably no need to fear meeting a wolf when walking in Finnish forests, as wolves are scarce and do their best to avoid people. The best way to see a wild wolf is to take one of the specially organised overnight wildlife-watching excursions in Finland’s eastern borderlands, where wolves are most numerous.

Credits: Maximilian Muench

Bear

Finland is home to more than 1,500 bears, but they’re seldom seen and are shy of people. Several wildlife tour operators run excursions into the forests of Eastern Finland, though, where you can stay overnight in a hide to watch and photograph wild bears who come to feed on scraps that are scattered to attract them.

Credits: Konsta Punkka

Wolverine

Also known as gluttons, wolverines are hardy animals that look like smaller, elongated bears. But they’re actually more closely related to Finland’s pine martens, otters and badgers. If you’re interested, you can take a wolverine-watching trip in Eastern Finland.

Credits: Guido Muratore

Siberian jay

Siberian jays are sociable birds found in Lapland and other northerly regions. They often appear just in time to scrounge tasty tidbits from picnickers in Finland’s many forests.

Ermine

This ermine is well camouflaged in the snow with its white winter coat. Several Finnish forest animals shed their summer coats in the autumn and turn white for the winter, including the ermine. Don’t be fooled by a seemingly empty snow-covered forest; oftentimes, you’ll see fresh tracks left by animals and birds.

White-tailed eagle

Thanks to the efforts of Finnish nature conservationists, majestic white-tailed eagles have returned from the brink of extinction. Today, they’re a common sight soaring over the waters and islands of the Baltic Sea.

Credits: Jaakko Salo

Reindeer

Finnish reindeer have been semi-domesticated from wild mountain reindeer. In Lapland, there are actually more reindeer than people – 200,000 to be (relatively) exact. And don’t worry about them getting cold – reindeer were built for freezing weather and can thrive in temperatures as low as -50°C! They’re also the only mammals that can see ultraviolet light, which helps to prevent snow blindness.

Credits: Pentti Sormunen

Elk

One of Finland’s most impressive four-legged residents is the elk, which can weigh as much as 700 kilos. Elk (also known as moose) can be seen practically anywhere in Finland, where they are currently thriving due to the scarcity of natural predators. Elk are easiest to spot around dawn and dusk, when they venture out of the forests to graze in marshes, meadows, and fields.

Credits: Antero Aaltonen