23 Animals You Will Find in Canada


Dorathy Gass

Last Updated:

Canada

From the Atlantic to the Pacific coast, Canada is truly a beautiful nation, filled with incredible and distinct flora and fauna across the entire country. While it is the second-largest nation in the world, as it is not overly populated, the land is dominated by tundra and forest, allowing the most interesting of animals to live and thrive in Canada.

1. Moose

Often thought of as a symbol of the Great White North, the moose is showcased on Ontario’s coat of arms as the province’s official animal. The heaviest and largest extant species within the deer family, moose are vegetarians and recognizable thanks to their broad, open-handed shaped antlers (on the males, that is).

The history of this Canadian animal is well documented, going back centuries, with moose meat acting as a staple of the Indigenous Peoples’ diet, where they often dried it up in order to consume it during those long, hard Canadian winters. Moose hides acted as leather for moccasins and other personal items.

For a majority of the 20th century, the population of moose were expanding within Canada; however, there has been quite a decline since the ‘90s. This is due to the opening of landscapes and roads, thus allowing deer to enter areas outside their natural habitats. As such, moose have been exposed to parasites like liver fluke and brain worm that have contributed to their decline.

2. Wolverine

While some may assume that the wolverine is related to the wolf family, it is actually related to weasels. A carnivore, the wolverine is muscular and stocky, and looks a lot like a small bear. While they are usually in search of meat, and hunt anything from mice, to rabbits, and even caribou, they will sometimes eat vegetation like plants and berries.

Wolverines are shy animals, so catching them out in the wild can be a rarity. They build their dens out of snow tunnels, boulders, rock, and generally live in remote forest areas.

Wolverine populations across the country are considered within normal range and stable as it relates to fluctuations, except locally in southern British Columbia and Alberta, due to their habitats becoming disjointed and the decline in caribou.

3. Black-Capped Chickadee

  • Where: All across Canada, except the coastal islands
  • Population: Unknown, but they are widely present in Canada and the United States

The black-capped chickadee is New Brunswick’s official provincial bird and was named Vancouver’s official bird in 2015. It’s known for its incredible memory to find caches of food it has stored, which can last up to 28 days.

This songbird is also beloved by humans, thanks to its lovely recognizable tune, as well as the fact that it isn’t overly shy, and will often come close (if you have birdseed in your hand). They snack on insects (mostly caterpillars) in the summer, and will turn to berries and seeds in the winter.

In terms of conservation, due to the black-capped chickadees’ large populations and wide distribution, they are on an animal that lands on the “Least Concern” list of the International Union for Conservation Nature.

4. Beaver

  • Where: All across Canada
  • Population: Anywhere from 10 to 90 million (across North America)

The beaver is an animal that is synonymous with Canada, thanks to its rich history across the country. Dating back as far as the 17th century, the beaver was a staple in the fur trade industry and helped sparked European interest in the Great White North. As such, the beaver is considered one of the nation’s official emblems, designated as the national animal of Canada in 1975. It also happens to be a part of Alberta and Saskatchewan’s coat of arms.

In addition, the beaver holds a special place in Canadian history in a variety of other ways by appearing on the five-cent coin; it was the 1976 Summer Olympics mascot when the event was held in Montreal; and continues to be synonymous with the word “Canada” as an unofficial mascot.

Known as a hard-working animal, the beaver is one of a rare set of mammals (other than people) who can make its own home, and it is very well-known for building lodges, dams, and canals. While there were an estimated six million beavers living in Canada during the beginning of the fur trade, by the time the mid-1800s hit, the animal had almost become extinct. Thanks to protective measures over the years, it’s safe to say that the beaver population continues to thrive across the country to this very day.

5. Caribou

  •  Where: Across Canada, living in the northern areas of all the provinces, except for PEI, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick
  • Population: Approximately 300,000

Also referred to as reindeer (in Russia and Scandinavia), Canada’s caribou are part of the deer family, and are ungulates, meaning they chew cud (like cows) and have cloven hooves. They are the only species within the deer family where both females and males grow antlers.

Caribou have a long and rich history in the country, where Indigenous peoples used the animal for shelter, clothing, as well as food, which makes it no surprise as to why their face has landed on Canada’s 25-cent coin, and the caribou is also the official animal of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Sadly, the animals are listed under “Some Kind of Danger” in terms of their conservation and population. Of the 51 herds across the country, 20 are declining, and not a single one is increasing. This is thanks to climate change, absence of effective land (as they are migratory), as well as, enhanced mining development and exploration (placing their habitats at risk).

6. Whales

  •  Where: Atlantic and Pacific coast provinces
  • Population: Numbers vary depending on the type of whale, where approximate figure ranges from  10,000 to 90,000

While whale-watching may seem like something to do south of the border, with the largest coastline worldwide, whales are just as much of a Canadian animal as the beaver or the moose. In fact, Canadian waters have a wide variety of diverse whale species within, as many of them migrate to the country’s waters for food; however, sometimes they are only there for a specific time frame.

Whales roam throughout the world via oceans, and currently, one of the most endangered types of whale is the North Atlantic, with an estimated 400 left across the globe; less than 100 females (to reproduce) exist.

7. Arctic Hare

  • Where: Northern region of Canada, Artic islands, as well as the southern part of Labrador and Newfoundland
  • Population: The total number of Arctic hares in Canada has never been estimated, it has been noted that there are 5,000-20,000 of these animals that live on the island of Newfoundland.

Sprinkled across Canada’s northern region and Artic islands, as well as the southern part of Labrador and Newfoundland, the conditions in these areas are the perfect setting for the arctic hare, thanks to the tundra, treeless coasts, cold and frozen weather, and plateaus.

With shorter ears and limbs then an average bunny, it is made up of 20% fat, and has a thick fur coat to survive the colder climate. It is known to dig up holes in the snow or ground to stay warm, and will often use these areas to fall asleep.

When this animal is found in Newfoundland or southern part of Labrador, the colour of its coat changes in the summer (brown and grey), and will change back to white in the winter as a way to camouflage it from predators.

8. Little Brown Bat

  • Where: All provinces and territories across Canada, except Nunavut.
  • Population: Estimated in the millions

This animal has the biggest presence across the country when it comes to Canadian bats. In the summer, they feed off of midges, mosquitoes, mayflies, beetles, moths, and other flying insects; hibernating in the winter, they move to mines and caves that offer increased humidity with a temperature just above freezing.

Sadly, over the years the population of little brown bats have declined in Canada, as pesticides have reduced and poisoned the animal’s food supply. Additionally, farm spraying in the early evenings, while bats are out on the hunt, can harm them significantly.

Removal of large trees and overly groomed shorelines have contributed to their habitat loss, and a disease known as white-nose syndrome is killing these animals at a high rate, leaving the little brown bat under the “endangered” species list.

9. White-Tailed Deer

  • Where: All across Canada
  • Population: No Canada-wide estimates; however, numbers have been tallied for Ontario, with estimates of 400,000

Of all the larger animals across North America, the white-tailed deer is the most numerous and widely distributed. As the official animal of Saskatchewan, it is part of Ontario’s coat of arms (along with the moose). The deer is recognized thanks to its “flag” of sorts, when the animal flourishes its tail, revealing a white buttocks and underside.

Canadian white-tailed deer are relatively free of any serious parasite concerns or diseases. Deer populations can grow quite quickly given adequate shelter and food; however, overpopulation can lead to pressure when it comes to food supply, resulting in malnutrition and predators zoning in.

10. Snow Goose

  • Where: Canadian Easter High Artic, Nunavut, Southern Quebec, Eastern Ontario, Northern New Brunswick
  • Population: In 1999, they were estimated at over one million

The Greater Snow Goose is an animal that is dimorphic, which means it can appear in a couple of forms. They are called “light morphs”, when the geese are white; “dark morphs” or “blue” geese when their feathers take a blue-grey form. The geese breed in Canada’s Eastern High Arctic, and when they migrate, the population heads to the agricultural and marsh lands of Quebec’s southern region for the most part, although a small number of them also head to Northern New Brunswick and Eastern Ontario.

In terms of conservation, Greater Snow Geese are listed as “overabundant”, and a special hunting season in the spring was designated to help control their population.

11. Common Loon

  • Where: All across Canada
  • Population: Approximately 240,000 territorially pairings

Every time a Canadian looks at a one-dollar coin, affectionately now known as the “loonie”, echoes of the surreal calls from the Common Loon can be heard dancing in one’s brain. The provincial bird of Ontario, loons are water birds and only head to shore when they breed and incubate their eggs. In fact, they swim underwater when catching fish, and generally swallow them there, without coming up for air, thanks to sharp, rear-facing projections on the roof of their mouth.

They spend their winters on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of North America, as well as Iceland, and Europe. They head back to clear water (lakes in cottage country, of course) during the spring and summer months.

 12.   Canada Lynx

  • Where: All across Canada
  • Population: Unavailable

Resembling a large domestic cat, the Canadian Lynx is just as cute as one, with a tad more aggression. It has a winter coat that is light grey, with brown underfur, and their summer coat is a lot shorter, with a reddish-brown tone. Their huge feet grow coarse hair during the colder months, to deal with the snow, and when they can spread their toes while walking on the flakey white stuff, their feet resemble that of a snowshoe.

Trapping is an issue for this animal, plus the decline in their main source of food, the Snowshoe Hare. With that said, as they are rare, they are protected in eastern and southern Canada, and classified as “Endangered” in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

13. Snowshoe Hare

  • Where: All Across Canada
  • Population: Unknown, but populations are on the decline

Speaking of, much like it’s predator, the Canadian lynx, the Snowshoe Hare grows a tremendous amount of fur in their hind feet during the winter months that stretch to look like “snowshoes”, thus the reason behind their name.

The Snowshoe Hare is an important prey for many other animals within the boreal forest (including the Canada lynx, Great Horned Owl, red fox, and coyotes – to name a few), and are key to this ecosystem’s success. Unfortunately, the animal is susceptible to many illnesses, including parasite, bacterial, and viral.

14. Grizzly Bears

  • Where: British Columbia, Western Alberta, Yukon, Northwest Territories, Northern Manitoba, Southwestern Nunavut
  • Population: 25,000

 While many people across this nation love to go camping, hiking, and outdoorsy stuff in general – one thing no one wants to do while partaking in these activities is to run into a grizzly bear. The average female weighs from about 300-400 pounds, while adult males can get up to around 800 pounds!

They are omnivores, which means 15-40% of their diet is animal meat, and the remainder is vegetation, and they are also well-known hibernators, who take a winter snooze for about five to seven months out of the year.

Despite being such a big and strong animal, the grizzly bear is at risk due to degradation and habitat loss. They are an animal that is easily affected by human disturbance, and as development increases within wilderness areas, this enhances the risk for grizzlies to thrive in their environment.

15. Canada Goose

  • Where: All across Canada
  • Population: 7 million across North America

Distinctive by its black head and the white “chinstrap” marking around its neck, the Canada goose can be found near most wetlands. While they are considered a water bird, they do spend equal amounts of time on both land and water. In the warmer months, they love to eat flowers, seeds, roots, stems, and berries. In fact, they can eat for 12 hours or more daily, to ensure they have consumed the nutrients they need, and tend to eat even more intensively when they decide to fly back home from the south, after the winter is over.

Speaking of, when they do migrate south (to the U.S. or Mexico, for the most part) during the colder Canadian months, they fly in a distinct “V” shape, where one of the pack is a leader, and the rest of the flock follows.

16. Red Fox

  • Where: All provinces; however, absent from the coastal areas of British Columbia
  • Population: Very stable, but exact numbers are unknown

Part of the dog family, red foxes are a carnivore and have the widest distribution of their species across Canada. Their fur can be reddish, thus their name, and sometimes they have a cross-shape emblem on their back. Their ear tips and feet are black, with a white tip on their tail. They also happen to be the official provincial animal for Prince Edward Island.

Red foxes hit the “least concern” ranking when it comes to conservation status, as they have sustained a very stable population across the country. They often live in wooded areas or farming regions, and continue to thrive all across Canada.

17. Wapiti

  • Where: Rockies in British Columbia, Vancouver Island, east of the Rockies in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, and the Yukon
  • Population: 72,000

As one of the largest animals that lay within the deer family, the wapiti, sometimes referred to as “elk”, tend to reside in forests, eating plants, leaves, bark, and grass. The males don large antlers that they shed annually, and herds stay in single-sex groups for a majority of the year until mating season.

Early European explorers that came to North America thought the animal looked like a moose, and the word “elk” is linked to Latin, Old Norse, German, and Scandinavian words that refer to the wapiti as the “North American animal known as the moose”. Meanwhile, the word “wapiti” itself is derived from the Cree and Shawnee word, which means “white rump”.

18. Pinnipeds

  • Where: Atlantic and Pacific coasts of Canada
  • Population: Unavailable

Pinnipeds are a group of fin-footed, semi-aquatic carnivorous marine animals. While mostly seals encompass this collection, walruses and sea lions are included in the cluster, and they share their time between land and ocean. Interestingly enough, they produce a variety of vocalizations such as grunts, growls, barks, rasps, creaks, chirps, chugs, whistles, and other noises that can be done both on land, and in the water.

Sadly, these beautiful animals have been hunted for since the Stone Age, and this still continues today. To boot, pinnipeds are threatened when unintentionally caught by commercial fisheries through fishing nets (when they swallow the hooks by accident). They are also affected by water pollution, and mothers can pass on these pollutants to their young, thus increasing disease, and decreasing reproductivity.

19. Blue Jay

  • Where: Southern Canada, including the southern areas of provinces from Alberta eastward to Quebec and throughout the Atlantic provinces
  • Population: Approximately 1.69 million

As the mascot and symbol of Toronto’s Major League Baseball team, plus the official bird of Prince Edward Island, the blue jays is a forest dweller; however, can also be seen now and again within suburbs and sometimes urban centers across Canada. While they are vegetarians and known for snacking on nuts, seeds, and acorns, they’ve also been known to eat insects like beetles, grasshoppers, and caterpillars, as well as nestlings or eggs (at times).

They get their “jay” name from their noisy and talkative nature, and at times are referred to as a jaybird.

20. Mountain Lion

  • Where: Most of the cougar population can be found in western Canada; however, these animals have been seen across the Prairies, Southern Ontario, Quebec, and New Brunswick
  • Population: 4,000

Also referred to as the puma or cougar, the mountain lion is the biggest and most powerful wildcat in Canada. A shy animal, it tends to live in undistributed forests, or other natural areas, where little human activity is found. A predator by all accounts, they have a vision that spans 130 degrees, and can kill prey that are four times their size due to their stealth and muscular form.

A major risk for this animal is habitat destruction, as development continues to disrupt the cougar’s homelife, decreasing their range. The good news is that overall, the mountain lion’s population is healthy from disease, and with the limitation of hunting on this animal, the current numbers around mountain lions can remain stable.

21. Grey Wolf

  • Where: Northern and Western Canada, Great Lakes Area of Canada
  • Population: 60,000

Pop culture seems fascinated with the grey wolf. Not only does the animal don mugs, flasks, blankets, posters, and more, it also has the most books written about it, versus any other wildlife animal. As the largest of the wild dog species, males can weigh close to 100 pounds once they hit adult status.

They live in packs that consist of a dominant female and male, and can be quite territorial. The prey on deer, caribou, goats, and moose.

22. Marmot

  • Where: All across Canada, but two distinct species live in the western part of the country
  • Population: Unknown

The largest member of the squirrel family, marmots have short, but powerful legs, huge claws (that help with digging), and don a variety of colours, based on their surroundings. They like to live in burrows, and are herbivores that snack on 30 different species of food plants, daily. They are also hibernators, so they enjoy taking a nice snooze for the majority of the year, hibernating from September to about April-May.

There are four different species of the marmot that live in Canada: Hoary, Vancouver Island, the Yellow-bellied marmot, and the common groundhog. Interestingly enough, Vancouver Island’s marmot can solely be found in Vancouver Island, and is one of the rarest animals across the globe. There were once only 30 in the area, and now thanks to efforts around conservation, there are approximately 250-300 of these cute creatures in existence in this region now.

23. Bison

  • Where: British Columbia, North West Territories, Manitoba, Alberta, Saskatchewan
  • Population: 350,000-400,000 across North America

Due to over-hunting, these larger-than-life animals went from 30-60 million roaming across North America in the 19th century, to near extinction by the mid-1800s. A law would be put in place in 1877, to help the bison recover its population. Due to their size, these animals don’t have many prey; however, wolves in packs have been known to attack, as well as brown bears, grizzlies and coyotes.

Sometimes referred to as “Canadian Buffalo”, bison are herbivores who eat forbs, sedges, and grass, and have a lifespan of 20 years. Thanks to their rich history in Canada, they are also the official provincial animal of Manitoba.

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