Animals in Madagascar

Below you can find a complete list of Malagasy animals. We currently track 121 animals in Madagascar and are adding more every day!

The island of Madagascar harbors one of the most unique ecosystems on the planet. Anchored off the eastern coast of Africa, it is the world’s fourth-largest island – nearly reaching the same size as Texas – with about 3,000 miles of coastline. The island is home to abundant rainforests, dry forests, deserts, and coastal reefs, which incubate a rich diversity of wildlife. Isolated from the mainland, about 90% of the island’s plant and animal species are native to the island and found nowhere else in the world. This has earned it the designation of a biodiversity hotspot. However, much of this rich biodiversity is being lost to human activity.

The Official National Animals of Madagascar

The two national animals of Madagascar are the zebu and the ring-tailed lemur. The lemur is a type of long-limbed arboreal primate found exclusive on the island, while the zebu is a subspecies of cattle originating from India and specifically adapted to endure hotter and drier climates. Just like a camel, its hump can store nutrients for when food is scarce. The zebu basically fulfills the same role as the taurine cattle elsewhere in the world. As a source of meat and milk, it has been a lynchpin of the local economy for thousands of years. This has given the zebu an important status in Madagascar society.

Where to Find the Top Wild Animals in Madagascar

The best place to discover Madagascar’s rich natural wildlife is the many national parks and protected areas spread across the country. The largest destination is the Masoala National Park in the northeast. It contains more than 900 square miles of rainforests, marshes, mangroves, and flooded forests, where you can find a variety of different lemurs, geckos, frogs, and birds. Other important parks include the Andasibe-Mantadia National Park in the east, the sandstone landscape of Isalo National Park in the southwest, and the Amber Mountain Reserve near the northern tip.

The Most Dangerous Animals in Madagascar Today

Madagascar is home to many unique species, but surprisingly few of them are dangerous to humans. The island has almost no big carnivorous, aggressive snakes, or other highly toxic animals. Some species like the Malagasy tree boa may look intimidating but actually pose little threat to people. Here are a few you should look out for, however.

  • Nile Crocodile – This species actually isn’t unique to Madagascar at all. It is found all over sub-Saharan Africa. But Madagascar does seem to have its own unique variation that lives in freshwater habitats and caves. Unfortunately, years of hunting have diminished the number of crocodiles on the island.
  • Black Widow – Madagascar is home to its own unique species of black widow spider, whose venom may cause muscle pain, cramping, and sometimes seizures. Death is relatively rare though.
  • Scorpions – Southwest Madagascar harbors a genus of large scorpions with a painful sting. Fortunately, it’s not often encountered by people.
  • Golden Frogs – This is a genus of around 16 brightly colored poisonous frog species that goes by the name of Mantella. The golden frog isn’t really dangerous at all until a predator tries to eat it. Then it produces a toxin that can cause nausea and sickness, although it is not yet known to cause deaths.

Endangered Animals in Madagascar

The Madagascar ecosystem is in a perilous state. A great deal of the animal species, including many of the primates, are now threatened by human activity from slash and burn agricultural techniques, deforestation, and even illegal hunting. Here are a few of biodiversity jewels that are in danger of being lost:

  • Ring-Tailed Lemur – The iconic ring-tailed lemur is perhaps the most well-known species native to Madagascar. It spends most of its life navigating the trees with its limbs, but unlike many other arboreal primates, the tail is not prehensile and merely provides balance and communication. As of 2017, it was estimated that only about 2,000 remain in the wild.
  • Indri – Native to the island’s eastern rainforests, the Indri is one of the largest lemurs in the world. It is characterized by a short, rudimentary tail, big fuzzy ears, and black and white fur. Like other species of lemur, the Indri congregates together in a complex society. Its group vocalizations, which travel more than a mile in the air, sound something like an air horn.
  • Aye-aye – This unusually named lemur has a unique arboreal hunting strategy. In order to search for food at night, the aye-aye will patiently tap on the barks of trees. Once it has found a hollow space, it will gnaw a hole in the wood with its forward-facing incisors and then pull out the grub with its long, spindly middle finger. The aye-age was thought to be extinct by the 1930s but was rediscovered a few decades later.
  • Silky Sifaka – Also known as the angel of the forest for its white, silky fur, this lemur is one of the rarest mammals on the planet. Less than a thousand individuals remain in the wild.
  • Ploughshare Tortoise – Home to a small stretch of territory in the northwest, the ploughshare tortoise can be identified by the unique growth rings projecting from the shell. Numbers have diminished quickly due to habitat loss and poaching (a single turtle can fetch around $200,000 on the exotic pet market). Only about a thousand of these animals remain.
  • Humblot’s Heron – Named after the French naturalist Leon Humblot, this species of large, long-legged waterbirds are found along the north and west coasts of Madagascar. The loss of wetlands has caused this species to decline.

Malagasy Animals

Ant

First evolved 100 million years ago!

Antelope

Renew their horns every year!

Aye Aye

Thought to be extinct until 1957!

Barb

There are over 2,000 known species!

Barn Owl

Found everywhere around the world!

Bat

Detects prey using echolocation!

Beetle

There are more than 350,000 different species

Bird

Not all birds are able to fly!

Black Widow Spider

They typically prey on insects!

Bumblebee

The most common species of bee!

Butterfly

There are thought to be up 20,000 species!

Cat

First domesticated by the Ancient Egyptians!

Caterpillar

The larvae of a moth or butterfly!

Catfish

There are nearly 3,000 different species!

Centipede

There are about 3,000 documented species!

Chameleon

There are more than 160 different species!

Chicken

First domesticated more than 10,000 years ago!

Cicada

Cicadas have one of the longest insect lifespans

Cichlid

There are more than 2 000 known species!

Cockroach

Dated to be around 300 million years old!

Common Buzzard

The most common raptor in the UK!

Cow

There are nearly 1.5 million worldwide!

Crab

There are 93 different crab groups

Crab Spider

Crab Spiders can mimic ants or bird droppings

Crane

Many are critically endangered species!

Crocodile

Have changed little in 200 million years!

Dog

First domesticated in South-East Asia!

Donkey

First domesticated 5,000 years ago!

Dormouse

Found in Europe, Africa and Asia!

Dragonfly

It's larvae are carnivorous!

Duck

Rows of tiny plates line their teeth!

Earwig

There are nearly 2,000 different species!

Eel

Eels can be a mere few inches long to 13 feet!

Elephant

Spends around 22 hours a day eating!

Elephant Shrew

Found exclusively on the African continent!

Falcon

The fastest creatures on the planet!

Fly

There are more than 240,000 different species!

Fossa

Most closely related to the Mongoose!

Fox

There are 12 different species in the world!

Frog

There are around 7,000 different species!

Fruit Bat

Among the largest bats in the world

Gecko

There are thought to be over 2,000 species!

Gerbil

Originally known as the Desert Rat!

Glass Lizard

Can grow up to 4ft long!

Glow Worm

Found inhabiting dense woodland and caves!

Goat

Most closely related to the Sheep!

Golden Oriole

Migrates between Europe and Asia!

Grasshopper

There are 11,000 known species!

Green Bee-Eater

Mainly eats honeybees!

Grey Mouse Lemur

The largest species of mouse lemur!

Guinea Fowl

Found in a vairety of African habitats!

Hamster

Able to run as quickly backwards as forwards!

Hare

Can reach speeds of over 40 mph!

Hedgehog

Thought to be one of the oldest mammals on Earth!

Heron

Inhabits wetlands around the world!

Honey Bee

There are only 8 recognized species!

Hoopoe

Stunning bird with a stinky way to deter predators!

Horse

Has evolved over 50 million years!

Horsefly

Horseflies have been seen performing Immelmann turns, much like fighter jets.

Human

Thought to have orignated 200,000 years ago!

Huntsman Spider

Some huntsman spiders have an interesting way of moving around. Some cartwheel while others do handsprings or backflips.

Ibis

Found in swamps, marshes and wetlands!

Indri

The largest species of Lemur!

Insects

There are an estimated 30 million species!

Kingfisher

Inhabits wetlands and woodlands worldwide!

Ladybug

There are more than 5,000 species worldwide!

Leaf-Tailed Gecko

Only found on Madagascar!

Lemur

Natively found on the island of Madagascar!

Lizard

There are around 5,000 different species!

Locust

Each locust can eat its weight in plants each day.

Magpie

They are found across Europe, Asia and Africa!

Mayfly

There are 2,500 known species worldwide!

Millipede

Some species have a poisonous bite!

Mole

Primarily hunts and feeds on Earthworms!

Mongoose

Range in size from just 1 to 3 foot!

Mongrel

Has characteristics of two or more breeds!

Monitor Lizard

Some species are thought to carry a weak venom!

Monkey

There are around 260 known species!

Moorhen

Feeds on aquatic insects and water-spiders!

Moth

There are 250,000 different species!

Mouse

Found on every continent on Earth!

Mule

The offspring of a horse and donkey parents!

Myna Bird

For a nice price, the mynah bird makes a good pet.

Nightingale

Named more than 1,000 years ago!

Nile Crocodile

When a female Nile crocodile’s hatchlings are in danger, she may hide them in a special pouch inside her throat.

No See Ums

There are more than 5,000 species.

Otter

There are 13 different species worldwide

Parrot

Can live for up to 100 years!

Peregrine Falcon

Fastest animal on Earth

Pheasant

Females lay between 8 and 12 eggs per clutch!

Pigeon

They can find their way back to their nests from up to 1300 miles away.

Quail

Inhabits woodland and forest areas worldwide!

Rabbit

There are more than 50 different species!

Radiated Tortoise

The most protected tortoise in the world!

Rat

Omnivores that eat anything!

Rhinoceros

It's horns are made from keratin!

River Turtle

Inhabits freshwater habitats around the world!

Robin

There are more than 45 species in Australia alone!

Rodents

The capybara, the world’s largest rodent, likes to be in and around bodies of water. Because of this, the Catholic Church in South America decided that it was a fish, and people were allowed to eat it during Lent and First Fridays.

Scorpion

There are around 2,000 known species!

Seahorse

Males give birth to up to 1,000 offspring!

Sheep

Around 35 million in the English countryside!

Shrimp

There are 2,000 different species worldwide!

Skink Lizard

Some skinks lay eggs in some habitats while giving birth to skinklets in other habitats.

Snail

There are nearly 1,000 different species!

Snake

There are around 3,000 known species worldwide

Sparrow

There are 140 different species!

Squirrel

Small rodents found in woodlands worldwide!

Stick Insect

There are more than 3,000 different species!

Swan

Populations have been affected by pollution!

Termite

Their mounds can be up to 9 meters tall!

Thrush

The American robin is called the robin because its red breast reminded European settlers of the robin back in the old country.

Tortoise

Can live until they are more than 150 years old!

Tree Frog

Found in warmer jungles and forests!

Vulture

There are 30 different species worldwide!

Warthog

Has two sets of tusks on it's face!

Wasp

There are around 75,000 recognised species!

Water Buffalo

Has been domesticated for thousands of years!

Wolf Spider

Carnivorous arachnid that hunts its prey.

Woodlouse

Actually a crustacean, not an insect!

Zebu

There are around 75 different species!

Malagasy Animals List

Animals in Madagascar FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What are the most common types of animals in Madagascar?

Madagascar is home to some 200 types of mammals, about a quarter of which are some species of lemur. There are also about 300 species of birds and more than 200 species of reptiles and amphibians each. The island is particularly rich in insects, however, with perhaps more than 100,000 known species.

Why is Madagascar’s wildlife so unique?

The island of Madagascar is a highly isolated, insular ecosystem. It was last attached to the African mainland some 150 million years ago. This isolation has allowed the wildlife to evolve semi-independently from the mainland. Some species have flown or swam across, but the harsh currents and long distances make it difficult.

What kinds of extinct species have been found in Madagascar?

From the fossil record, we know that Madagascar was once home to giant lemurs, pygmy hippos, giant tortoises, and elephant birds (essentially, large flightless birds that resemble an ostrich). Many of these species have gone extinct in the past 2,000 years with the arrival of people.

What kind of animals are in Madagascar?

The island has nearly 25,000 species of wildlife, many of which are unique to the country. Madagascar is home to over 40 types of Lemur, many of which are vulnerable or endangered. There are also bats, mongoose, crocodiles, monitor lizards, in addition to hundreds of other species of reptiles, mammals, and insects.

What can kill you in Madagascar?

Very little of the wildlife in Madagascar is dangerous to humans. Nile Crocodiles and Madagascan Black Widows pose the greatest threat of death.

What dangerous animals live in Madagascar?

Of all the animal species found in Madagascar, very little of its wildlife is actually dangerous. Madagascan Black Widows, Nile Crocodiles, and Scorpions are the main animals to look out for.