Wildlife in the Netherlands: 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 overly ambitious attempt to spot some wildlife in the Netherlands 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 it is now estimated there are roughly 3,700 living the city life plus another 10,000 throughout the Netherlands.

wildlife in the netherlands parakeet
Pigeons just can’t compete.. you really have to feel sorry for natures D student. Image: Mabel Amber/ Pixabay

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 ‘wildlife in the Netherlands’ list today.

Seals Off The Island Of Texel

Ahhh don’t you just love seals? Their inquisitive nature and portly figure make 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 search for the wildlife of the Netherlands 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*.

wildlife in the Netherlands seal
If dogs had flippers. Image: A_Different_Perspective/Pixabay

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 inter-tidal 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.

wildlife in the Netherlands badger
A lifelong foe of the traditional Dutch farmer. Image: Dirk (Beeki®) Schumacher/Pixabay

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 encounters with nature’s most mischievous omnivorous mammal.

wildlife in the Netherlands fox
I think this fox was photographed leaving the Kashmir Lounge. Image: David Mark/Pixabay

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 wildlife in the Netherlands part 2, please leave a comment below! 

Feature Image: MabelAmber/Pixabay


  1. Don’t forget to include the majestic “Edelhert” – the Red Deer which is one of the largest species of deer in existence. The “Everzwijn” – Wild Boar – is pretty impressive too, especially given their temper and, if necessary, abillity to royally mess you up. And in a country the size of Holland there’s a significant chance you can spot either one if you have the patience and willingness to do so.
    Last but not least there’s more elusive ones like the Otter and Beaver and, the most majestic and elusive of all: the White-Tailed Sea Eagle!

    P.S.: Even though you can’t actually venture into it, the Oostvaardersplassen are worth mentioning – be it protected from public access it is one of the most amazing/diverse ecosystems in Europe and, criticism not withstanding, is teeming with life including wild horses and various bovine.

  2. The Oostvaarderplassen is amazing. We’ve seen the elusive ijsvogel and the wild horses are let into the public areas once in awhile and are completely tame around people.

  3. For the lazy safari: the Scarlet Macaws that fly over Haarlem. If you persistently lie on De Bolwerken you will see them.

    The fringe envy: Scottish Highland cattle in the Zuid Kennemer Duinen. Sometimes they get shampoed, so smell better than the visitors.

  4. Herbivore land mammals: red deer, fallow deer, roe deer, mouflon, wild boar, beaver, wild hamster
    Carnivore land mammals: wolf (new), fox, racoondog, badger, otter, pinemarten, wild cat
    Carnivore sea mammals: common seal, grey seal
    Predatory birds: white tailed eagle, fish hawk (new), red kite (new), eagle owl
    Birds: crane, spoonbill, black grouse, kingfisher, parakeet, raven
    Reptiles: adder, ringsnake, sandlizzard, stone lizzard
    Observed in last 5 years: vulture, racoon, jackal


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