What types of animals can you see in Mauritania?
Mauritania is home to some of the most incredible wildlife on the planet. The amount of diversity is truly incredible. 🙂
But because of the sheer number of different species, there was no way I could include every animal living in Mauritania.
So, here is what I did to make this list more manageable:
The article below focuses mostly on the most common and unique MAMMALS found in Mauritania.
If you were hoping to learn about something else, like reptiles, birds, or spiders, I have created separate ID guides for these categories of animals.
Please click the links below to view pages dedicated to these species in Mauritania:
5 Incredible ANIMALS IN Mauritania:
#1. Honey Badger
- Mellivora capensis
- Adults are 55–77 cm (22–30 in) long.
- They have stocky bodies, large heads, small eyes, strong, wide forefeet, small hind feet with short claws, muscular necks and shoulders, and thick, loose skin.
- Their color varies with subspecies, but generally, their lower half is black, and they have an upper mantle of gray or bright white.
Honey Badgers are one of the toughest animals in Mauritania!
They have a reputation for living anywhere, eating anything, and surviving no matter what.
Their diet is as varied as their habitat. Honey Badgers are opportunistic foragers whose menu changes with the season and prey availability. They frequently prey on snakes, birds, eggs, frogs, and small rodents. As their name suggests, they’re also known for raiding honey bee hives to eat the larvae and honey inside.
Honey Badgers are known for their aggressive nature. Males will ferociously defend their territory and mate from other males. Naturalists sometimes refer to older adult males as “scarbacks” because they usually have a noticeable patch of scars on their backs from conflicts.
The video below is one of my favorites and shows how TOUGH Honey Badgers are! Seriously, you have to watch until the end.
#2. Striped Ground Squirrel
- Euxerus erythropus
Euxerus erythropus. (2022, November 11). In Wikipedia.
- Their fur is typically similar to the soil color in their area and may range from brownish to reddish gray to yellowish gray.
- Look for a white or buff stripe down each side from shoulders to hindquarters, small ears, long, slightly curved claws, and a flattened, darker tail.
As the name suggests, Stiped Ground Squirrels DO NOT climb trees. Their claws are well-suited to digging and running across the ground but don’t allow them to climb well.
Female Striped Ground Squirrels tend to be highly social and often live in groups of 6 to 10. The males are mostly solitary but come together to mate with multiple females several times per year.
Females in the same group work together to build special burrows for their young that are lined with soft, dried grasses. These burrows typically have multiple emergency exits to help escape from predators. Life is tough for baby squirrels, as approximately 70% of them are lost!
#3. Rock Hyrax
- Procavia capensis
Also called Dassie, Cape hyrax, Rock Rabbit, and Coney.
- Short snouts, cleft upper lips, stout legs, short ears, and rubber-like soles on their feet.
- They are brownish-gray with creamy undersides, long black whiskers, and a black patch of hair on their back.
These small animals may look like rodents in Mauritania, but their closest living relatives are actually elephants and manatees! As their name suggests, they live in rocky, scrub-covered areas.
Rock Hyrax have several adaptions that allow them to move about skillfully on steep, rocky surfaces. First, Rock Hyrax feet soles are rubber-like and kept moist by a glandular secretion. And second, their feet also have a depression in the center that acts a bit like a suction cup.
Rock Hyrax Range Map
Rock Hyraxes usually live in colonies called “kopjes,” ranging from 5 to 60 individuals. Usually, these groups are made of a male, several females, and their young.
Interestingly, Rock Hyrax colonies usually urinate and defecate in a common restroom. This habit causes a build-up of calcium carbonate from the urine, turning the cliffs where they live white. In the past, African tribes and Europeans collected the calcium carbonate crystals for medicine to treat epilepsy, hysteria, and other injuries and ailments.
#4. African Wolf
- Canis lupaster
- Relatively long pointed snouts and ears, comparatively short tails, and robust teeth.
- They’re yellowish to silvery gray with reddish legs, black speckling on their tails and shoulders, and some white markings on their faces, throats, and abdomens.
Look for this canine during the day in Mauritania in grassland areas.
African Wolves have an extensive range, and their appearance and size vary with location. They usually center their territory around a den, often made from a modified aardvark or warthog den, where the female will have her pups.
African Wolves have flexible social structures that are largely dictated by prey availability. Each pack consists of a monogamous breeding pair that remains together constantly. It also includes current offspring and previous generations that help to raise their siblings.
These wolves can be formidable predators in Mauritania, sometimes taking prey up to three times their weight. However, they usually go after much smaller animals.
Pairs of wolves often hunt gazelle fawns and other small mammals like cane rats and ground squirrels. They also consume fruit, snakes, and insects. Interestingly, during the wildebeest calving season, African Wolves feed almost exclusively on wildebeest afterbirth.
#5. Rüppell’s Fox
- Vulpes rueppellii
- They have slender bodies and long, bushy tails with white tips.
- Coloration is buff or sandy colored with white hairs in their dense undercoat and gray markings on their faces, but there are some gray morphs in rocky areas.
Rüppell’s Foxes are one of the most resourceful animals in Mauritania.
Because Red Foxes often get the best territory, these smaller foxes have become highly adapted to inhospitably dry deserts. While they’re primarily insectivores, they’ll consume anything they can grab and eat, including small mammals and roots.
Their fur closely matches the substrate where they’re located, camouflaging them from predators such as Steppe Eagles and Eagle Owls. Rüppell’s Foxes also have a fascinating, skunk-like defense mechanism. When threatened, they will hump their back, raise their tail, and spray their attacker with a foul secretion from their anal gland.
Living in such harsh conditions, Rüppell’s Foxes have gained a reputation as incredibly tough survivalists. There’s even a legend that these foxes can drink water from the wind by keeping their head in a breeze. That’s quite a reputation for such a tiny animal!
Do you want to learn about MORE animals in Mauritania?
Check out these ID Guides. Each one is specific to wildlife in Mauritania!
Which of these animals in Mauritania is your favorite?
Leave a comment below! I’d especially like to know if you have visited Mauritania before and what you saw.