Last updated on January 28, 2023 by Wandering our World
Corfu is situated where the Ionian Sea and the Adriatic Sea meet, and as such it has a very unique landscape that helps foster a whole host of wildlife.
In some parts of the island you can find lagoons, while in others you can find sand dunes, mountains, and plenty of vegetation.
Still. it’s a very small island, only about 36 miles long and 226 square miles. Yet despite that there are quite a few different species of animals that can be spotted when you’re out exploring Corfu. And thankfully very few pose any threat to humans.
Instead you have the chance to see the likes of the rare Mediterranean Monk Seal – one of the most endangered marine animals in the world – and the beautiful Great White Egret with its gorgeous long plumes.
Below we introduce you to several of the animals in Corfu you could be lucky enough to see on holiday, and tips on where to find them. Let’s get started!
1. Scops Owl
The scops owl is a characteristic owl found in Corfu. They are only around 20 centimeters tall and have a wingspan averaging around 50 centimeters. Typically, the female scops owl is larger than males.
These owls have a distinct call, often recognizable, communicating through short scream-like whistles. Scops owls are the largest owl genus with 59 species, three of which are now extinct.
The Eurasian Scops owl is most common in Corfu. They are slightly smaller owls with small ear tufts and are usually seen perched upright on branches.
Eurasian scops owls have long narrow wings, helping with their migratory flight patterns.
They are nocturnal, so don’t go searching for their prey until the evening rolls around and their diet consists of mostly small insects and invertebrates. So keep an eye out at night!
The buzzard is a predatory bird with a large wingspan of up to 128 centimeters.
These birds are an icon of the wildlife on the island and can be seen soaring over Corfu year-round, most often close to woodlands, farmlands, or grasslands – so keep an eye on when hiking. They prefer to stay over open areas so it’s easier for them to spot potential prey from the air.
Buzzards are also considered to be quite solitary birds, often not found in large groups unless migrating elsewhere.
Buzzards have broad wings and rounded tails which help them soar on thermal currents, which are found when there is a change in temperature, often a result of uneven terrains. They also have small hooked beaks to help them pick up their prey.
Buzzards are found nesting in trees or laying their eggs in small holes found in the ground and they have relatively long lives, often surviving between 25-50 years old!
They have a carnivorous diet consisting of mice, rodents, other small mammals, large insects, and worms.
3. Emys Orbicularis
The Emys Orbicularis is commonly referred to as the European pond turtle, and is a common part of the wildlife in Corfu.
They are most often found living in freshwater ponds, lakes, and streams and like having access to sandy areas where they can rest in the sun in areas not commonly visited by predators
European pond turtles have unique shells that change their shape and color with age, so you can actually count growth rings on their shell, often one growth ring a year.
These turtles are usually 12-38 cm in length with the females growing slightly larger and they have a lifespan averaging anywhere between 11-28 years, although some have been recorded surviving decades.
Unfortunately, European pond turtles have a high mortality rate due to many predators. They are harmless to humans but follow a carnivorous diet, often filled with worms, fish, frogs, and insects.
Foxes, specifically red foxes, are commonly found throughout Corfu. They often stay in unpopulated areas on more mountainous terrains but have been seen in forests, wetlands, and fields.
Foxes prefer areas of mixed vegetation and are relatively solitary animals, and tend to stay to themselves. They will run and hide when they feel threatened or scared.
Foxes are pretty small and are not considered any threat to humans. They weigh anywhere between 3-14 kilograms and the males are larger than females.
Red foxes have orange-red fur covering their heads and back, and they have a white belly and neck with incredibly bushy tails. Their body often measures between 45-90 centimeters and their tail can be 28-49 centimeters in length.
Red foxes have also been recorded living between 10-12 years, but often only survive around 3 years due to many predators. Their diet mainly consists of rodents, rabbits, insects, and fruit.
When scavenging for food, foxes have incredible hearing and can hear low frequencies well, so they are aware of small rodents digging underground near them. They also have an excellent memory, storing food somewhere and then returning later on to finish their meal.
Although red foxes are quite cute and virtually harmless, they have been known to carry rabies. It’s best to avoid getting too close unless supervised by a tour guide.
Hedgehogs are commonly seen wandering around Corfu. They are small mammals that have short legs keeping them close to the ground.
Generally, the females are slightly fatter than the males and the average weight for a hedgehog is 21 oz. They only grow between 7-9 inches in length and have a relatively short lifespan of 3-4 years.
Hedgehogs are found living in grassy areas and have quite a big appetite for their size, often eating ⅓ of its body weight in food in one evening!
Hedgehogs are most recognized by the small spikes that cover their body. When they are walking around, their spikes lay flat, however, when they are threatened, they curl up into a tight ball and their spikes stick out in all directions. This helps protect them from potential predators.
Although it’s unlikely you’ll get harmed by a hedgehog if you do get pricked by their quills you might notice a rash form. This rash can be due to an allergic reaction from the quills, it’s also important to monitor the area just in case of infection.
Eurasian otters are widespread throughout Greece and have been spotted on Corfu. They are often found in freshwater rivers and streams, but rarely seen in marine habitats.
Otters are typically 1-1.3m and weigh between 7-9 kg. They also have short legs with webbed feet and whiskers that help detect potential prey. Eurasian otters also have their eyes high up on their head so they can see above the water even when swimming.
They are solitary creatures, often living alone when not in mating season, and also have a small diet, consisting mainly of fish.
Eurasian otters are classified as endangered and protected under a presidential decree. There has been a large decrease in population due to environmental factors, such as pollution due to agricultural pesticides.
Martens are similar to a weasel and range in color, sometimes light brown, yellowish brown, or even closer to a black color fur.
There are eight different species of Martens, but most commonly seen in Greece is the Stone Marten. They are small, mischievous creatures that are found in a wide variety of terrains, such as forests, agriculture, mountains, and shrubland.
Martens are nocturnal, solitary animals that are territorial and do not like being disturbed by other animals. Their diet consists of smaller mammals, fruits, and eggs, but their bodies are small, often weighing between 1-2.5 kg, and is 42-48 cm in length. However their tails are bushy and can be up to 27 cm in length.
8. Balkan Mole
The Balkan mole likes to live in coastal areas. They have strong front claws that help them burrow tunnels 30-50 meters long underground and are covered in sleek black fur!
Most of their life is spent underground, and their diet consists of small underground invertebrates. Their body is small in size, usually resembling a cylinder shape and only growing up to 20 cm long. The ears of Balkan moles are not visible and they only live 3-6 years old.
Since moles spend most of their time underground, they are not often spotted in the wild. However, if you’re lucky enough to see one of these little animals on your trip to Corfu give them space! They can be easily frightened since they have a hard time seeing what’s around them.
9. Glossy Ibis
The glossy ibis is a mid-sized bird with a long neck, legs, and a long curved bill. They are most often seen in shallow wetland environments where there is exposed mud.
These birds like being in open spaces and often eat insects, grains (such as rice), beetles, crabs, shrimp, mollusks, and snails.
The glossy ibis often builds its nest in pairs. The male tends to be in charge of collecting the materials for the nests.
You can find their nests up to 12 feet above the ground, often in trees or shrubs, so keep a look out in those.
The glossy ibis is a more social bird and can often be seen in flocks. Though, on occasion, you may find a single glossy ibis in the wild.
10. Eurasian Spoonbill
The Eurasian spoonbill is a large wading bird often recognized by its long spatula-like bill. They are covered in white feathers and have a black bill and black legs.
This bird is most commonly found in shallow water and wetlands, often near bodies of freshwater.
These birds fly with their neck outstretched and have a diet consisting of mollusks, newts, crustaceans, worms, leeches, frogs, and tadpoles. They weigh 4.1 pounds, average around 85 cm in length, and have a wingspan average of 120 cm.
These birds are stunning to see and a real treat for any wildlife lover visiting Corfu! If you see them on your trip to Corfu try to stay still and as quiet as possible, so you can admire their beauty without them flying away!
11. Great White Egret
The great white egret is a large, all-white bird with black legs. They have large, powerful wings, often only beating their wings two times a second and flying around 25 miles per hour – but they can reach up to 47 miles per hour!
During their breeding season, there’s a patch on their face that appears neon green and long plumes that grow from their back. On average, the great white egret weighs around 35.3 oz and has a wingspan that ranges from 51-57 inches.
With a diet consisting mostly of fish, frogs, and other small aquatic animals, they are often spotted near the coast in shallow waters, and their nests are often built nearby high up in trees. The great white egret is most commonly spotted during their spring and fall migration, or in warmer months.
Despite their striking beauty, great white egrets are known to be aggressive as nestlings. It’s not uncommon for the larger chicks to kill their smaller siblings.
If you spot one of these fantastic birds, keep an eye out for their plumes, especially during the mating season! These plumes were used a lot in the late 1800s as a fashion piece.
Wasps are seen globally but are quite common throughout Corfu and the other Greek islands. They have a striking black and yellow coloring and often range anywhere between 10-20mm in size.
Wasps can be aggressive insects and often hunt various insects. They’re also more dangerous than bees because they can sting multiple times in a row.
There are social and solitary wasps. Solitary adult wasps live and work on their own. They don’t build nests and prefer to find natural shelter. But social wasps live in small groups in hexagon shapes and their nests can hold thousands of wasps and are often spotted on the side of trees, branches, or in underground burrows.
Similarly to bees, wasps are pollinators and feed off plant nectar however, they can also act as a parasite to trees. It’s not uncommon for them to chew and destroy tree bark, killing branches.
Wasps are not always aggressive, but when their colonies are disturbed or they feel threatened, they can become reactive quickly. If a wasp nest is harmed, it will start to attack, biting and stinging whatever animal disturbed them. Too many wasp stings can prove to be lethal to humans.
When exploring Corfu, keep an eye out for wasps and their homes. You don’t want to end up disturbing them! They are most commonly through the spring and summer months.
13. Oriental Hornet
Oriental hornets are large and aggressive, and are sometime considered to be a public health concern. Similar to wasps, they are capable of inflicting multiple bites and stings.
Oriental hornets are a part of a caste system, composed of the queen, worker hornets, and male drones. Each role has a slightly different appearance and plays an essential role in the functioning of their society.
The queen hornet is the largest of the three, and it is the only female to reproduce. The worker hornets help keep the hive running, and the male drones provide shelter and food for the hive.
All three have powerful bites they can inflict when attacking potential threats, however, only the female hornets have stingers.
Oriental hornets feed on orchards and other vine crops but are known to attack colonies of bees. They can be spotted by their two pairs of wings, orange-yellow head and distinctive yellow and black striped bodies.
These hornets are actually considered an invasive species, and it’s likely you’ll spot one on your trip to Corfu
14. Moray Eels
The Greek Mediterranean moray is found living in tropical waters. It is considered to be a high-risk species, with its species steadily decreasing.
Moray eels have a powerful bite that can be quite painful for humans, and they also have mucus on their jaws filled with toxins that can lead to infections in humans.
However, when left undisturbed, these eels do not go out of their way to be aggressive toward humans.
These eels can also cause moray eel poisoning if eaten, especially if left un-gutted. There are high levels of ciguatoxin in their flesh, specifically in their liver, which causes nausea, and neurological symptoms, and can cause tingling in the fingers and toes.
Moray eels are often one meter in length and have a dark gray color, sometimes covered with spots. Often found swimming near coral reefs or hiding in crevices, these nocturnal creatures are active at night which is when they hunt small fish, snails, and dead animals.
Moray eels are intimidating when seen with their sharp teeth. However, they are good at blending in with their surroundings and avoiding conflict unless they feel threatened and need to defend themselves.
15. Mediterranean Monk Seals
Mediterranean monk seals are between 2-3 meters in length, often weighing between 15-20kg. These seals eat octopuses, fish, and squids. They are very friendly creatures and very intelligent.
These seals are one of the largest species of seals and are one of the rarest marine animals in the world, and subsequently are currently under protection as an endangered animal.
There are only a few groups of Mediterranean monk seals that have been spotted in tropical and subtropical waters, most of them being in the waters surrounding Greece, including the island of Corfu.
Due to the centuries of humans disturbing and harming these seals, they often avoid humans and avoid giving birth on beaches or open areas. Instead, finding reclusive caves away from potential threats and predators.
They also find beaches that humans can not easily access and search for food in shallow waters. With that the case spotting this rare animal is on the hit-list of many wildlife watchers when visiting Corfu.
16. Dolphins (Bottlenose/Zebra/Short-Beaked)
Bottlenose dolphins, zebra dolphins, and short-beaked common dolphins are the most commonly found dolphins off the coast of Corfu. They are often seen in the summer seasons often by the main port of Corfu.
Dolphins are brilliant creatures and are very curious about humans. They are sometimes seen following boats. They are very playful and are one of the few marine species and animals in Corfu that will come in close contact with humans.
Dolphins communicate with whistles, clicks, and other sounds they produce from their jaws. They have to swim up to the surface to breathe and can only stay fully submerged in water for about an hour and a half.
This results in them staying close to the surface and very easy to spot, especially when exploring the sea around Corfu!
Bats are common all throughout Corfu, though it is uncommon to see them flying around. There are numerous species of bats found on the island, but they typically only range 3-5 centimeters in length with a wingspan averaging around 20 centimeters.
They often spend time hiding throughout the day and come out to search for food in the evening, but can be found living in caves or under the roofs of houses on the island.
These bats have a diet consisting of moths, mosquitoes, beetles, fruit, and nectar. They are great for the ecosystem, helping pollinate numerous plants on the island.
Bats are gentle creatures and often avoid being seen by humans, but keep your eyes open for bird like creatures flying in the night!
The Incredible Animals & Wildlife Of Corfu: Our Final Thoughts
Corfu is an excellent vacation spot, filled with stunning beaches, beautiful landscapes, and historical architecture. But the wildlife in Corfu is well worth seeking out too.
However as always, it is best to exercise caution when in unfamiliar areas and stay aware of your surroundings. If there are any animals that sting you or bite you, it’s best to seek medical advice to avoid infection when traveling.