What types of animals can you see in Somalia?
Somalia 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 Somalia.
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 Somalia. Well, except the last species is a large reptile, so make sure you scroll to the bottom to find out what it is. 🙂
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 Somalia:
14 Incredible ANIMALS IN Somalia:
#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 Somalia!
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. Spotted Hyena
- Crocuta crocuta
- They have sandy yellowish or gray course, wooly coats with black or dark brown spots on their bodies, though these may be absent in old individuals.
- They are strongly built with massive necks, large heads, rounded ears, bushy-tipped tails, and longer front legs than back legs.
Spotted Hyenas are one of the most unique animals in Somalia!
These entertaining mammals live in clans of 3-80 hyenas. Females lead the clans, and all of the females within the clan are dominant over the males.
One of the strangest features of Spotted Hyneas is that males and females are very difficult to distinguish. Females have skin and tissue in their genital area that allows them to mimic males, which may protect females from aggression from other females.
Spotted Hyenas have a reputation as cowardly scavengers that steal food from other predators, but researchers have found that they kill most of their prey. Despite their odd, sloped appearance, hyenas are incredible runners and will chase prey for long distances at speeds up to 65 kph (40 mph). They usually work in groups to take down large animals.
Although Spotted Hyenas are not currently endangered, they are “Conservation dependent,” meaning that programs are in place to protect them. If the conservation efforts were removed, their populations would begin to decline within five years.
- Hippopotamus amphibius
- Adult males weigh up to 9,920 pounds (4,500 kg), while adult females average 3000 pounds (1,360 kg).
- They’re typically purple or slate gray, brownish pink around their ears and eyes, and covered in sparse, thin hair.
Hippos are the LARGEST animal in Somalia you will find in freshwater!
In fact, the Hippopotamus is the third largest land animal alive today, after the Elephant and the White Rhinoceros!
Hippos have unique skin that needs to be wet most of the day, meaning they spend most of their time submerged in shallow lakes, rivers, and swamps. But despite their aquatic lifestyle, Hippos can’t actually swim! They are just walking on the bottom when you see them in water.
Hippopotamus Range Map
At night, Hippos typically leave the water to feed to avoid the sun. They mainly feed on short grasses near the water but sometimes travel miles for food, using their acute sense of smell for dropped fruit.
These big mammals may look cute, but beware, Hippos are one of the most aggressive and dangerous mammals alive, particularly the dominant males. They clash with anything in their territory, including other hippos, humans boating, and predators. Hippos have HUGE, sharp canines that grow continuously and may reach 20 inches (51 cm) in length!
#4. African Savanna Elephant
- Loxodonta africana
Also called the African Bush Elephant.
- Thick, gray, creased skin, muscular trunks, and large triangular ears shaped a bit like the African continent.
- Both sexes have thick, curved ivory tusks.
The African Savanna Elephant is the biggest land animal in Somalia (and the world). It is also the largest of the three elephant species (Forest and Asian).
Due to their size, an elephant’s most significant requirement is food. They spend most of their time eating, and a single individual may eat 350 pounds (158 kg) of vegetation daily. Today, these magnificent creatures are restricted to preserves, but in the past, they would migrate hundreds of miles annually, moving from high to low elevations with food availability.
Savanna Elephant Range Map
As you probably know, one of the most unique features of elephants is their trunks. Their trunks contain over 40,000 muscles and two sensitive finger-like projections on the tip, allowing them to handle small objects or pick up as much as 400 pounds (181 kg)! They can also use their trunks to breathe, drink water, or blow water onto their backs to cool themselves.
The females have a 22-month gestation period, the longest among mammals, and give birth to a single calf, which the whole herd helps to raise.
Elephants are considered ecosystem engineers because of their many impacts. For example, they dig in dry riverbeds in the dry season, creating watering holes with their tusks, which other animals rely upon.
And as they move through the landscape, they create large pathways for other species to follow. They also rip up small trees and open areas for other grazers like zebras. Lastly, their dung also spreads seeds from several important plant species.
#5. African Clawless Otter
- Aonyx capensis
- They have large heads, stout, tapered tails, partially webbed hind feet, long white whiskers on their cheeks, chin, and brows, and are clawless except for three grooming claws on each back foot.
- They have thick, shiny, dark brown coats with white markings on their upper lips, the sides of their faces, necks, throats, bellies, and lower ears.
Otters are one of the most playful animals in Somalia!
As a primarily aquatic species, you’ll almost always see African Clawless Otters around rivers and other freshwater habitats. They prefer areas with thick reed beds and shallow water because they don’t dive below 1.5 m (5 ft).
African Clawless Otters also spend time on land. They build dens with entrances above or below the water they share with other otters. They use their dens for giving birth, playing, eating, and resting.
These creatures breed during the dry season, and the young otters are particularly fun to watch. They spend much of their time fighting, swimming, sliding on rocks, playing with food, and throwing pebbles into the water to dive and grab before reaching the bottom. Watching them is like a little circus show!
- Oreotragus oreotragus
- Adults are stocky with short necks and bodies, large hindquarters, large rounded ears, and sometimes short, straight horns.
- Their coats may be yellow and speckled with brown, bright golden-yellow, or gray and dull, with each individual hair being light at the base and dark towards the tip.
Look for these animals in the arid, rocky hills of Somalia.
To make life in these rocky regions a bit easier, Klipspringers have specially adapted feet. The last joints of their toes are rotated so that they walk on the tips of their hooves. The rocks wear the hooves down into cylindrical shapes well-suited for balancing on the rocks.
These unique little creatures are also monogamous to a greater extent than most other antelopes. A pair will mark and defend a territory together, with males performing dominance displays and butting heads. Females are a bit aggressive, too, and may bite and rip out each other’s fur.
Klipspringers are usually most active in the morning and evening. One of the pair, usually the male, will stand guard while the other feeds. They are preyed on by many large predators and have to remain constantly alert.
#7. Four-toed Hedgehog
- Atelerix albiventris
Also called African Pygmy Hedgehogs.
- Oval bodies, long snouts.
- Short protective spines with black centers and white bases and tips.
- Their undersides and faces are covered in soft white or brown fur.
Four-toed Hedgehogs get my vote for the CUTEST animal in Somalia!
They are usually found roaming open areas of savanna and desert. But they can be hard to spot because they’re nocturnal and constantly on the move, searching for food. During the day, they take shelter and rest in burrows.
Four-toed Hedgehogs primarily feed on insects and spiders. Interestingly, they have a very high tolerance for toxins and can consume scorpions and venomous snakes without issue! And just in case food becomes scarce, they have the ability to enter a dormant state and live off stored fat for a period.
When threatened, hedgehogs put their spines to good use and roll into a protective ball! If that doesn’t work, it will twitch to try and jab the spines into the predator. Unlike a porcupine, the spines on a hedgehog do NOT come out.
#8. 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 Somalia, 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.
#9. Dorcas Gazelle
- Gazella dorcas
- Pale-colored with white underbellies and a rufous stripe down their sides, separating their upper and lower coloring.
- They have white eye rings, a pair of white and dark brown stripes running from each eye to the corners of the mouth, and ringed, lyre-shaped horns, which are generally thinner, straighter, and shorter in females.
These animals thrive in the dry habitats of Somalia.
Dorcas Gazelles are small but well adapted to the desert and live in arid places. They can easily handle high temperatures and harsh sunlight.
Despite these intense conditions, they don’t need much water and get most of their moisture from their food, though they will drink when it’s available.
If they spot a predator, these herbivores twitch their tails and make bounding leaps to warn others and confuse their attacker. Dorcas Gazelles are often able to escape if a predator gives chase. Their long, slender legs allow them to sprint away at speeds of 80-100 kph (50-62 mph). They also can perform quick zig-zags, which help them to escape.
Unfortunately, these fascinating creatures are listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of endangered species. Their populations have declined significantly as they have faced extreme habitat loss due to land development and climate change.
#10. Bat-eared Fox
- Otocyon megalotis
- Coloration is yellow-brown with pale throats and underparts.
- Black outer ears, raccoon-like face masks, lower legs, feet, and tail tips.
- They have relatively short legs, huge ears, and more molars than other canids.
Look for these small animals in the arid grasslands and savannas of Somalia.
Named for their enormous ears, these interesting-looking foxes prefer areas with short grass. They live in large dens with long tunnels and several entrances, and they have multiple dens within their territory.
Bat-eared Foxes arrange their schedule by the weather. In the summertime, they’re mostly nocturnal to avoid the heat of the day, while during colder weather, they sleep at night.
They spend much of their time feeding on insects and other arthropods. They often follow herds of wildebeest, zebra, and buffalo, which disturb the termites as they walk. Their dung also attracts dung beetles, which make a tasty treat. Their large ears allow them to hear insects even underground!
- Proteles cristatus
- They have large pointed ears, slender skulls, thick manes that run from the back of their head to their tail, and longer forelegs than hind legs, giving them a sloping appearance.
- They have buff-yellow or dark brown fur with dark stripes on their bodies, horizontal dark stripes on their legs, and dark feet and tails.
It’s easy to mistake this animal in Somalia for a hyena.
Aardwolves are smaller than hyenas and have more defined stripes. However, their similarity is so uncanny that some researchers have suggested it may be a defense mechanism called Batesian mimicry. This trait, which is rare in mammals, is where one species mimics a more dangerous one in appearance.
Aardwolves don’t hunt large animals and are considered insectivores since they almost exclusively feed on insects. Their favorite food is termites, and they have specially adapted long, sticky tongues that help them lap up hundreds at a time. One Aardwolf can consume 300,000 termites in a single night!
Aardwolves live in dry, open savannas and grasslands and spend most of their life either solitary or in pairs. During the daytime, they retreat into underground dens to escape the sun and heat. Despite being common and widespread, it’s rare to spot one since they’re nocturnal, shy, and secretive.
#12. 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 Somalia 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 Somalia, 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.
- Litocranius walleri
- They are tawny brown with a reddish saddle on their back, white on their undersides, black outlines around their eyes with white circles around them, and white inner ears with black markings.
- They have distinctive long necks and long thin legs, and adult males have ringed, scimitar-shaped horns that are 25–44 cm (10–17 in) long.
Look for this antelope in Somalia in dry, brushy regions.
Gerenuks use their long legs and necks to their advantage! They stand up on their hind legs to grab food that’s out of reach for most other antelope species. These amazing creatures can reach up to 2 m (6.6 ft) off the ground.
Gerenuks usually live in small herds of up to ten members, though some males live a solitary life. Males are very territorial and mark their territories by rubbing their preorbital glands on trees and shrubs. This releases a musk that other Gerenuks can identify, warning them away.
Unfortunately, this unique species is in danger of extinction because of climate change and human development of their range. Gerenuks are listed as near threatened on the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species.
#14. East African Oryx
- Oryx beisa
- Adults stand about 1 m (3 ft) at the shoulder.
- They have a gray coat and white underside separated by a black stripe and black stripes on the legs, where the head attaches to the neck, along the nose, and from the eye to the mouth and on the forehead.
- They have small, chestnut-colored manes, thin, straight-ringed horns, and long black tails.
These animals live in some of the harshest climates in southern Somalia.
The East African Oryx inhabits semi-deserts and steppes. To survive in these intensely hot and dry regions, they are able to store water by raising their body temperature and avoiding perspiration.
Despite their resourceful nature and adaptability, the IUCN lists East African Oryxes as endangered. They are over-hunted for their meat, hides, and horns, which are often used as charms. They have seen rapid habitat loss and population decline in the last two centuries due to agriculture, roads, and settlements. Some conservation efforts are underway, but more are needed to preserve this antelope.
Do you want to learn about MORE animals in Somalia?
Check out these ID Guides. Each one is specific to wildlife in Somalia!
Which of these animals in Somalia is your favorite?
Leave a comment below! I’d especially like to know if you have visited Somalia before and what you saw.