Wildlife Guide

The Big Five

Swedish moose Alces alces

Shoulder height 150–230 cm. Weight 270–700 kg. The moose is the largest extant species in the deer family. Moose occur in woodlands and thrive in environments of lakes and wetlands. Moose are mostly diurnal. Their diet consists of both terrestrial and aquatic vegetation. Unlike most other deer species, moose are solitary animals and do not form herds. Although generally slow-moving and sedentary, moose can become aggressive and move surprisingly quickly if angered or startled. They are most likely to attack if annoyed or harassed, or if their "personal space" has been encroached upon. The maintaining of eye contact is usually the first sign of aggression, while laid-back ears or a lowered head is a definite sign of agitation. If the hairs on the back of the moose's neck and shoulders stand up, a charge is usually imminent. They can reach a maximum speed of 60 km/h. The moose is known as "The King of the Forest".

Roe deer Capreolus capreolus

Shoulder height 65–75 cm, body length 95–135 cm. Weight 15–35 kg. The roe deer is primarily crepuscular, or primarily active during the twilight, very quick and graceful, lives in woods although it may venture into grasslands and sparse forests. It feeds mainly on grass, leaves, berries and young shoots. When alarmed, it will bark a sound much like a dog and flash out its white rump patch. Rump patches differ between the sexes, with the white rump patches heart-shaped on females and kidney-shaped on males. The roe deer has a maximum running speed of 60 km/h.

Red fox Vulpes vulpes

Shoulder height 35–50 cm, body length 45–90 cm. The tail, which is longer than half the body length, can measure between 32–53 cm. Weight 5–12 kg. Outside the breeding season, most red foxes favour living in the open, in densely vegetated areas, though they may enter burrows to escape bad weather. Red foxes are omnivores with a highly varied diet. Red foxes prefer to hunt in the early morning hours before sunrise and late evening. The red fox has a maximum running speed of 50 km/h. As well as having excellent vision, smell and touch these bushy-tailed true foxes can produce 28 different calls.

European badger Meles meles

Shoulder height 25–30 cm, body length 60–90 cm. During the summer, they weigh 7–13 kg and 15–17 kg in autumn. Badgers have rather short, fat bodies, with short legs for digging. The badger is found in deciduous and mixed woodlands, clearings, spinneys, pastureland and scrub. It is nocturnal and is a social, burrowing animal that lives in a sett. Badgers can run or gallop at 25–30 km/h for short periods of time. They bark when surprised, whicker when playing or in distress, and emit a piercing scream when alarmed or frightened. Though classified as a carnivore, it feeds on a wide variety of plant and animal foods.

Photo: Natasja Jovic, Hillside Cycling

European hare Lepus europaeus

Length 48–75 cm. Weight 2.5–7 kg. Hares primarily live in open fields with scattered brush for shelter. Hares are larger than the European rabbit, have longer ears and hind legs and breed on the ground rather than in a burrow. Generally nocturnal and shy in nature, hares change their behaviour in the spring, when they can be seen in broad daylight chasing one another around fields and meadows. Hares can run at 70 km/h and when confronted by predators they rely on outrunning them in the open. To show interest they raise their ears, while lowering the ears warns others to keep away. During the summer, they eat grasses, herbs and field crops.