Grab your philotherian friend and discover for yourself the many animals that call the Netherlands home on a Dutch safari!
Ever thought about taking yourself on a Dutch safari? No? Me neither. But, if you were so inclined and wanted to embark on an overtly ambitious attempt to spot some wildlife throughout the country then this guide is sure to help. Waste some time and have a gander, we guarantee you’ll soon be able to sort poezen from pluimvee and ezels from the eenden with ease in no time at all. Just stay away from any swan that looks shady, which is all of them.
Parakeets Fluttering Through Amsterdam
If you’ve walked or rode through Vondelpark and caught a glimpse of what you think is a rose-ringed parakeet chances are it’s not your imagination (or the mushies you ingested). These cheeky little birds are rumoured to have made Amsterdam their home after being accidentally released from an aviary at the zoo in the 1980’s. True to their nature they took flight and its now estimated there are roughly 3,700 living the city life plus another 10,000 throughout the Netherlands.
Their vibrant plumage and ability to mimic human speech is what makes them so unique. They’re also considerably more appealing to look at when compared to pigeons. If parakeets were cars they’d be a Bentley, and those pigeons, an unremarkable Fiat. Sorry, not sorry pigeons, but you didn’t make the “A Dutch Safari” list today.
Seals Off The Island Of Texel
Ahhh don’t you just love seals. Their inquisitive nature and portly figure makes them ripe for enjoyment. I always found that a majority of their appeal stems from how they go from being so clumsy on land, to graceful and fluid as they move through the water. If you’re thinking of going on a Dutch safari and want to catch a glimpse of these hounds of the sea then low tide off the coast of Texel is your best bet. Here you’ll find the aptly named “seal banks”, located in the Wadden Sea*.
Watch them raise their offspring, play with friends or soak up the sun as they lay about on these exposed sand bars.
*Fun fact, the Wadden Sea is the largest unbroken system of intertidal sand and mudflats in the world (feel free to whip that out when you have visitors you want to impress)
Badgers Hiding Out In Friesland
Don’t bother getting up early if you’re looking to do a bit of badger spotting whilst on a Dutch safari as badgers are nocturnal by nature. They can however be spotted on dusk and at night in the Hoge Veluwe or the forests of Limburg, Friesland, Drenthe and Overijssel.
Much like my mother in law, badgers are vicious when provoked, however unlike my mother in law, their diet is relatively healthy. Fruit, nuts and a little bit of protein such as mice or even worms are on their menu when it comes to dinner. Until 1980, badger populations in the Netherlands decreased at an alarming rate. This can be attributed to poaching, large-scale land consolidation and sett-digging. Luckily for the bulky bodied and beady-eyed badger, in 1984 the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature Management and Fisheries outlined a conservation plan to protect them. Since then they have recovered and now enjoy a somewhat pleasant life meandering through the Dutch countryside at night looking to pick up a quick meal or a badger girlfriend/boyfriend.
Foxes In The Dunes Of Scheveningen
Many of you probably already know this but The Hague was originally built on sand dunes, which is why just outside of the city limits near the coast you can find such picturesque scenery. It’s well worth venturing out of Amsterdam, Rotterdam or Den Haag on a Dutch Safari to take in the view, but what makes it even more special is the probability of a chance encounter with nature’s most mischievous omnivorous mammal.
Foxes are truly remarkable, and it’s believed that their hearing is so good they can hear a watch ticking from 40 yards away, so if you do decide to take a cycle past their dunes, make sure you stay as quiet as you can a keep your eyes peeled. Also, don’t tell your Dutch friends from the countryside you’re going fox spotting, as farmers love foxes about as much as Geert Wilders loves the Koran.
Far be it from me to tell you what to do, but please remember to always keep your distance when observing animals in their natural habitat. If you have a particular animal that you’d like us to include for A Dutch Safari Part 2, please leave a comment below.