Discover the wildlife in Cyprus and the best places to see the various creatures like moufflon, snakes and lizards. We saw the large herd of moufflon below at the Argaka dam on a recent bike trip:
For outdoor lovers of all things natural, there is plenty to see on the island although we don't have many mammals. The moufflon is the key mammal, otherwise known as the Agrino in Greek, and is the shy "sheep", unique to Cyprus. While classed as a wild sheep, the moufflon looks more like a deer (females) and the males have horns that look like an Ibex.
You will find the moufflon in the Paphos forest area close to Polis Chrysochous and also higher up in the pine forest towards Troodos. There are around 3000 animals on the island. There is a moufflon enclosure at Stavros tis Psokas forest station which cares for orphaned and sick moufflon.
There are wild foxes and plenty of rabbits on the island but the most common creatures you will see when out and about are lizards of all shapes and sizes and beautiful snakes.
Tip: Please don't be afraid of meeting a snake when out walking. Most will move out of the way fairly quickly and will only attack if provoked. If you are out dog walking, you may encounter a snake. Just try to put your dog on a lead to get past any snakes. If you find one in your garden, please try to dispose of it humanely and not use a spade to kill the snake!
Many people are terrified of snakes but even the poisonous ones like the viper are not dangerous unless you act stupidly or are extremely unlucky.
In fact many species are endangered on the island, in particular the Cyprus grass snake. The leading authority on the snake is Hans-Jorg Wiedl, otherwise known as Snake George. He used to run a reptile park near Paphos until it was forced to close and, while he has been trying to get funding and permission to open another park in the Paphos district, he has had no luck.
Many locals insist on killing any snake they see which is all down to ignorance when all Snake George is trying to do is educate the locals as to why it's important to keep snakes alive as part of the natural eco-system.
One of the best ways to try and spot the wildlife in Cyprus is to take one of the many Cyprus walks highlighted on this site (see the related pages links below). Moufflon will most readily be found in the forest areas between the Troodos mountain range and the North West near Polis and Argaka. The above moufflon picture was taken in October 2010 at the Argaka dam.
Snakes are best seen in forest areas near river-beds, although you can also see them when walking on some of the hillsides. As for lizards, well just head to the Akamas peninsula - the higher you climb, the bigger they get!