Aside from having a rich culture and the oldest civilization, China is also known to be among the countries with the most diversity when it comes to animal life. Its vast vegetation types and a variety of relief are what have enabled the development of this great diversity. Animals that are extinct elsewhere in the world can be found to have survived in China as a result.
But what are these kinds of animals found in China? How many are they in total? Which ones are endangered and which ones are dangerous? In this post, we will cover the answers to all of these questions. We will discuss in-depth the kind of animals that likely live in China.
How Many Animals Live In China?
As we’ve mentioned China is home to a great variety of animals. It is among the 17 countries with the greatest diversity of wildlife in the world. China ranks third in the world when it comes to the number of mammals, seventh for reptiles and amphibians, and eighth for the number of bird species.
In total, China has more than 7,500 species of vertebrates, which makes up more than 10% of the total number in the world. Among the vertebrates, over 3,800 are marine animals and over 2,400 are terrestrial animals. In terms of species, there are over 560 species of mammals, 403 species of reptiles, 346 of amphibians, 69 species of birds, and 4 of fish.
Most of the animals living in the country are native to China, that’s about one-sixth of the mammals and two-thirds of the amphibians. A few examples of the native Chinese animals include the famous giant panda, red-crowned crane, golden-haired monkey, white-flag dolphin, red ibis, and Brown-eared pheasant. The red-crowned crane, especially, is seen as a symbol of longevity in the whole of East Asia. It’s about 1.2 m tall, covered with white feathers and a distinctive patch of red skin exposed and crowing its head.
Sadly, China has the world’s largest population of humans, which means the wildlife has to bear the acute pressure of sharing a habitat with them. Due to this, a minimum of 840 species or more is in danger of becoming locally extinct. This is due to activities such as the destruction of forests and poaching for food and ingredients for traditional Chinese medicine. The black and white giant pandas are a great example of an endangered species with only about 1,500 of them left. They are the symbol of the world’s protected animals. As of 2005, China has also put up measures of protecting all the endangered animals starting with over 2,349 nature reserves that cover about 15% of China’s total landmass.
What Kind Of Animals Live In China?
The following is a list of all the main animals you’ll find living in China, including native and non-native ones:
When you think of animals living in China, the first animal to come to mind will most likely be the giant panda. It is the most closely associated animal to China, thanks to its incorporation into pop culture like the movie Kung Fu Panda. Belonging to the bear family, the pandas are about 1m tall, weighing 135kg, and covered in a thick coat of black and white fur. These cuddly-looking bears are originally from the southern part of China and are especially a popular tourist attraction in Chengdu. You can also find them in the mountain ranges of Sichuan province as well as in Gansu and Shanxi province. Their main diet consists of bamboo shoots and leaves although they do feed on meat and other plants. Currently, it’s estimated that only about 1,500 of them exist in the wild.
Chinese Giant Salamander.
Although many people confuse it with the Komodo dragon based on their resemblance, the Chinese Giant salamander is an amphibian that can live both on land and in water. Among the giant salamanders in the world, the Chinese one is said to be the largest one. They can grow up to 2m in length and weigh 60kg. While they are endangered species in the world, around China many farms are raising over 3 million of them as a source of food. The best place to see and interact with them is in Chinese zoos and aquariums like Beijing zoo or Shanghai zoo and aquarium.
Golden Snub-Nosed Monkey.
They are also known as Sichuan Snub-nosed monkeys or golden-haired monkeys. Their name is derived from their golden-brown fur and their unique noses with no protruding nasal bones. These features make them easily identifiable and allow them to survive in their natural habitat which involves the coldest climate. The golden-haired monkeys are however a small and rare monkey species only found in the southern and central parts of China. As such they are considered a national treasure. Being endangered species, the best place to see them would be in the Hong Kong zoos or other Chinese zoos and parks like the Yunnan Golden Monkey National park.
Also referred to as Pere Davis Macaques or short/stump-tailed macaques because of their distinctively short tails. These macaques are mostly found in Tibet and a few parts of southern and central China. They are the largest group of macaques in the world. They are characterized by their thick long fur that’s especially dense around the head and ears, which serves to keep them warm during the cold winter. The fur can be black or greyish brown, although, younger macaque’s fur, is darker with a bit of a silver tinge. The females are slightly smaller than the males and have red-colored skin around their eyes compared to the males. The best places to see Tibetan Macaques in China are in the country’s most popular scenic areas like the Monkey Valley in the Yellow Mountain Scenic area.
There are two kinds of Chinese leopards starting with the North Chinese leopard, which based on its name is predominantly from Northern China. They have a shorter cream-colored fur coat in the summer and a long golden fur coat in the winter with black rosettes on them all year round. The North Chinese leopards are classified among the critically endangered animals with only 100 of them left in the wild. You’ll mostly find them in elevated forests.
The second kind of Chinese leopard is the clouded leopard. They have a lifespan of 13 years and a gestation period of 86-95 days, taking about 25 months to mature. They can grow up to 68-105 cm in length with a tail of about 75 cm. The females are lighter than the males with a weight of 12kg compared to the 23kg of males. Aside from that clouded leopards are also really good swimmers.
When it comes to marine animals, the dugong is a great and unique example. It’s quite big and closely related to the elephants although they have a closer resemblance to manatees except for their fluked whale-like tales. Dugongs are vegetarians, feeding mostly on underwater grass, and can stay in water for up to six minutes at a time. You can spot it in the warm coastal waters of the Pacific ocean alone or large herds.
What Endangered Animals Live In China?
Given the large population and increase in harmful human activities, many animals in China are becoming increasingly endangered. With the growing number of middle and upper classes, there has been an increase in demand for traditional Chinese food and medicine that require animal parts. That includes food like monkey’s milk or turtle’s eggs and medicines like powdered rhino horn. Other activities like deforestation and untreated industrial waste polluting wildlife habitats have also contributed to the increasing number of endangered species in China.
The following are the major groups of endangered animals in China aside from the giant pandas, giant salamanders, red pandas, and other animals we’ve already mentioned:
In China, primates are the largest group of threatened mammals. As we’ve already mentioned the snub-nosed monkey among other monkey species are critically endangered, given that they are constantly being hunted for food. Aside from them, other critically endangered primates include the black crested gibbon. Owing to deforestation there are only two groups and a total of 50 eastern black crested gibbons left and only 20 of the Hainan Black-crested gibbons. The white-headed langur on the other hand is suspected to be extinct by now.
The Big Cats.
Aside from primates, the big cats in China are also highly threatened animals as a result of the destruction of their habitats and being hunted for fur. The South China Tigers and leopards, along with the golden-haired cats are especially threatened and hunted for their bones, which are used for traditional medicines. Of the five subspecies of tigers in China, the Caspian tigers are already extinct and the remaining four are all endangered.
Other Terrestrial Mammals.
In addition to the cats and primates, the Pangolin is another terrestrial animal that is critically endangered. It is considered the most poached and trafficked animal. Other than the Pangolin, other endangered mammals include camels, rhinos, and many species of deer are also highly threatened and hunted for food or medicinal purposes.
In China, aquatic life is mainly threatened by water pollution, fishing, dam constructions, and obstruction of water movement. The Baiji (Chinese River dolphin) is now considered functionally extinct with less than a dozen of them left. The blue whales, North Pacific right whales, and western gray whales are also now some of the endangered oceanic whales in China.
What Dangerous Animals Live In China?
While most animals seem cute or even cuddly, some can be venomous, feisty, and very dangerous to interact with, especially without supervision. The following are some of the topmost dangerous animals in China:
These include big cats like tigers and leopards. Being carnivores, they are predators and extremely dangerous to encounter in the wild. They are equipped with sharp teeth, claws, and strong jaws that enable them to tear through even the toughest hide and break the strongest bones. Some of these include the Siberian tiger, clouded leopard, and North Chinese leopard.
Asian Black Bear.
While giant black and white pandas can be playful, Asian black bears are extremely dangerous and hostile towards humans. They are mainly found in the forests in North-East China. They are responsible for the death of 8 people in India in 2013.
Asian Giant Hornet.
In the US this animal is also known as the murderous hornet. It is the largest and deadliest of the wasp family, with a brown body approximately 2” long and orange spots on the head and yellow stripes on the abdomen. It’s highly venomous with a 6mm stinger and was reported to have killed 4 people in Shaanxi province in 2013.
Chinese redhead centipede.
Another dangerous animal is this insect that’s easily identifiable by its brown body and redhead. It is mostly found in the southern parts of China and is considered extremely venomous. Its venom is said to cause immense pain, fever, weakness, and eventually death. It was reported to have killed a young Philippines girl some years back.
The animals mentioned here are just a fraction of those that live in China. As we’ve mentioned the country has a great diversity of animals. On your next visit to China, you can arrange a visit to the zoos and national parks to enjoy interacting with most of these animals.