Corsica is home to the majority of small European land mammals: fox, weasel, wild rabbit, hare, hedgehog, shrew and vole... Corsican deer, which unfortunately disappeared in the last century, were successfully reintroduced in Corsica. They can be found in the regional nature park of Corsica, alongside mouflons, the emblem of Corsica, a wild species of mountain sheep present in the Asco valley as well as in the Cinto and Bavella mountain ranges. A large number of wild boar populate the forests and thickets and are often spotted at the outskirts of towns. If you keep your eyes peeled at night, you will see bats fly by. Bats are small, discrete animals and are both useful and inoffensive. With their 22 different species, they alone represent more than half the number of wild land mammals present on the island. Corsica is home to the smallest bat in Europe, the common pipistrelle, as well as the largest and rarest: the Greater Noctule!
The domestic animals that you may encounter on the side of the road are indigenous breeds. They have long become accustomed to Corsica and have developed characteristics specific to the island's climate and terrain. This is the case of the "Cursinu", a Corsican breed of dog both hardy and versatile, a good hunting or shepherd dog with a fawn, brindle coat. Corsican goats are real rural acrobats and have a long, multi-coloured coat which protects them from the prickles encountered in the thickets. Corsican sheep produce hardy, impermeable and warm wool. They are bred for their milk, which is used to manufacture a wide range of Corsican cheeses as well as Brocciu, a cheese speciality. Corsican cows, which resemble aurochs, have a fawn-coloured coat and boast long lyre-shaped horns. They live in almost total freedom and exclusively feed on wild plants. Corsican pigs, known as "porcu nustrale" are recognised by their characteristic small size, the diversity of their colourings and their rustic nature. They are free to roam the mountain pastures in summer and the thicket in autumn and winter, feeding on acorns and chestnuts. Corsican donkeys have been of great service to the island's inhabitants. Low-demand and hardy animals, they are extremely agile on the island's steepen paths (they can be recognised by the cross-shaped marking on their back). Corsican horses, known as the "Cavallu corsu" or "Paganacce" are a small, stocky, nimble-footed horse with a bay, pangaré on black or plain black coat. Herds can be seen roaming free in the mountain prairies and alpine wet grasslands ("pozzines").
Corsica is home to many different types of lizards, salamanders and geckos. The Bedriaga's rock lizard and Tyrrhenian wall lizard, two species endemic to Corsica and Sardinia, rub shoulders with the Italian wall lizard throughout the island. Corsica is also proud of its Hermann tortoises, a land tortoise that likes the thickets and that has almost entirely disappeared from the rest of France, as well as its European Pond Turtles, small freshwater turtles and another endangered species. Near to Corsica's streams lives the Corsican brook salamander, a small endemic salamander fond of calm waters.
There are no vipers in Corsica. The only snakes that you might come across are small, inoffensive grass snakes.
The red kite rules the air, surveying the sky and looking for prey. This bird of prey, with its 1.5 m wingspan, can be found throughout the Corsican skyline. It is recognised by its red, forked tail and three-coloured feathers (white, red and black). The barn owl silently sweeps by whereas the European scops owl whistles all night long. Buzzards, peregrine falcons, common kestrels and sparrowhawks are all present in Corsica. The large birds of prey emblematic of Corsica (golden eagle, bearded vulture, northern goshawk and osprey) have become difficult to spot. As an endangered species, they are protected by a preservation programme coordinated by the Corsican Regional Nature Park (PNRC).
Corsica is home to the only bird endemic to mainland France: the Corsican nuthatch, a small, agile bird measuring 12 cm, blueish-grey, black and white, inseparable from the Corsican pine in which it lives and whose pine nuts it eats.
Most European birds can be found in Corsica: swift, blackbird, thrush, robin, tit, swallow, goldfinch, greenfinch, chaffinch, jay, nightingale, wagtail, turtle dove, chiffchaff, sparrow, kingfisher, crow and raven, etc. The coastline and humid areas act as stop-overs for migratory birds: duck, Mediterranean shearwater, European bee-eater, egret, hoopoe, wood sandpiper, heron, swallow, stork and pink flamingo, etc. The Corsican coastline is the only place in France where the Audouin's gull reproduces and is home to many colonies. The Corsican colony of European shags is one of the largest in the Mediterranean.
Crickets, grasshoppers and cicadas chatter away in summer. Flowers in spring become covered with beetles and colourful butterflies: the chalkhill blue and the swallowtail butterflies are two endemic species. The Corsican bee is also characteristic (Apis mellifica mellifica, Corsican ecotype). Perfectly suited to the local conditions and climate variations, it knows how to make the most of the changing seasons. Springtime honey (clementine, fruit tree, cistus, chestnut, myrtle...), springtime wild "maquis" honey (heather, lavender, golden-chain, broom, hawthorn...), chestnut honey in May, summer maquis honey (broom, brambles, thyme...) and autumn maquis honey (strawberry tree, ivy, false yellowhead, smilax aspera...).
There is also a small venomous black spider in Corsica: the Mediterranean black widow. It measures 4 to 15 mm and can be recognised by its yellow, orange or red spots on its black back. It nestles under rocks and in old walls; its bite is painful and potentially life-threatening for fragile people. As with all insects, it only bites to defend itself so be careful if you encounter it...