Covering an area that exceeds 6.6 million square miles, Russia spans more territory than any other nation on earth. It should come as no surprise, then, that Russia has a wide variety of flora and fauna, some of it critically endangered. Russia's vast size means that the country has a wide array of climatic regions, providing habitats for a full and varied range of wildlife. Below is an overview of some of the country's most notable animal species.
10. Eurasian Otter
One of the most recognizable animals in Russia is the Eurasian otter, whose habitat extends over much of Russia. The species of otter is related to the North American river otter but is significantly different in that it has a shorter neck. Males are typically larger in size than the females, and the largest reported weighed more than 53lbs. The otter is carnivorous, and its diet consists predominantly of fish, though when fish are scarce, the otter supplements its diet with amphibians and birds. The otters prefer to live alone for much of their lives except during mating which can take place at any time during the year. Females are usually responsible for caring for the three to four pups they give birth to, and will often stay within the territory of the male that fathered the pups until the pups are mature. Over the years, the species' population was threatened by pesticides that in recent times have been banned allowing for the otter population to increase.
9. Northern Fur Seal
The Northern fur seal is a vulnerable species of seal whose habitat range mainly covers the north of the Pacific Ocean. Fish and squid form a significant part of the seal's diet. Their breeding season typically begins in May. Seal pups are usually born a year after conception and after they are born the female usually takes care of them. For millennia, these seals have been hunted for their fur and food.
8. Amur Leopard
The critically endangered Amur leopard is considered the most infrequently seen of all the big cats. Estimates place the surviving wild population at 103 individuals, an increase from the 2015 estimates of below 60. As is typical of big cats, the males are larger than the females. Human activity is the leading cause of the decline in the species' numbers. The maximum recorded area that the leopard's territory can cover is 116 square miles. The leopards primarily feed on deer and boars, and when food supply is low, they feed on smaller animals such as hare and fowl.
The sable is a small mammal living chiefly in the Russian forests. The sable is famous for its high-quality winter coat that is sometimes referred to as "the legendary Golden Fleece". Sables feed on a wide variety of items from berries to small deer. The females are usually in charge of caring for the young while the males search for food and offer protection.
6. Siberian Tiger
With a wild population estimated at around 500 individuals, the Siberian tiger is an endangered species of tiger. The Siberian tiger once occupied vast tracts of land, but human activities have significantly reduced the size of land available for specie growth. The population of Siberian tigers was greatly affected by the Russian Civil War as the armies indiscriminately killed the tigers. One of the main challenges facing the Siberian tiger population is the limited genetic diversity.
5. Oriental Stork
The oriental stork is an endangered bird species found primarily in Russia. Although it used to occupy a wider range outside of the country, habitat loss and hunting drove it to extinction in other parts of its habitat range. The bird's diet mainly consists of fish and supplemented by insects, frogs, and rodents. The birds prefer living alone until the breeding season when individuals come together only to mate. Estimates indicate that the bird's population has significantly decreased. In Russia, fires that occur during spring burn down the sites where the birds breed which poses a substantial challenge to the bird's population.
4. Beluga Whale
The beluga whale is a social whale that has developed specific adaptations to enable it to survive in the Arctic. Analysis of the whale's diving data indicates that the whale can dive to depths exceeding 3,100 feet in search of food, mainly cod. A school of beluga whales usually has ten individuals, and they live and feed as a unit. In Russia, the whales are generally found in the waters that border the north of the country. The whales migrate according to the seasons, and during summer some have been recorded going upstream.
3. Long-Tailed Goral
The long-tailed goral is a vulnerable species of wild goat that lives in mountainous regions with a range that usually covers 0.16 square miles with the exception being males during the breeding season. Females and younger males typically live in herds with at least two members while the older males prefer to live alone. The goats have a wide assortment of food sources stretching from grass to fruits.
2. Eurasian Lynx
The Eurasian lynx is a species of the wild cat whose population is thought to be stable at approximately 22,500 individuals. Small mammals and birds including squirrels and hares form the bulk of the cat's diet. The cat's mating season extends for four months. The females' window to conceive is small - about a week long at most. Females usually give birth to about four kittens per litter.
1. Tundra Wolf
The tundra wolf is a grey wolf subspecies endemic to the tundra region, highly valued for its fur. Like all species of wolves, the tundra wolf lives and hunt in packs. The tundra wolves have the same hierarchical arrangement as other species of wolves with a dominant alpha couple in charge of the entire pack. Conflicts with humans pose the main risk to the wolves as people kill the wolves due to the fear that they pose a threat to farmers’ livestock.