Wildlife and Animals on Dartmoor

Get to know the Wildlife and Animals on Dartmoor!

Walking along Dartmoor, you will experience the wonderful wildlife that inhabits it. The animals found on Dartmoor are hardy breeds, that are used to withstanding the cold weather and often difficult terrain. Here is our guide to wildlife and animals found on Dartmoor!

Dartmoor Ponies - Wildlife on Dartmoor

Cows on Dartmoor

You will find various breeds of cattle on Dartmoor. The cows that roam the moors are made of sterner stuff and often have thick coats to protect them from the weather. Popular breeds found on the moor are black and belted Galloways. If you’re lucky, you will also spot the majestic Highland cow. These beautiful breeds have shaggy coats and big horns – they’re not hard to miss when you see them! They will graze on the grass throughout the year and often you will see beautiful newborn calves and yearlings following their mothers. You may also find the more traditional South Devon cows too! This type of cattle has light red and often curly coats. They are known to be a gentle breed but are very hardy, so perfect for Dartmoor life!

Things to do on Dartmoor - see the wild animals
Highland Cows on Dartmoor

Ponies and Horses on Dartmoor

As you trundle across the moors, you are likely to spot the beautiful Dartmoor Pony. These stunning ponies have lived on Dartmoor for centuries and are well equipped to handle the tough Winter weather. Types of Dartmoor pony breeds include the Purebred Dartmoor Pony, the Dartmoor Heritage Pony, the Hill Pony and the Shetland Pony. Each has their own distinctive look and thrive on the rugged terrain of Dartmoor. The ponies are looked after by the Dartmoor Commoners but they have a lot of free terrain to roam! We have a beautiful herd of Shetland ponies on our farm, along with a variety of horse and pony breeds. Take a look at our pony page.

Dartmoor Ponies
Ponies on Dartmoor

Sheep on Dartmoor

You will love seeing all the sheep roaming on Dartmoor. Sheep tend to please themselves and will quite happily stroll along the road in front of cars on Dartmoor – after all, it is their home! You will see them happily grazing on the grassland and you will know there have been sheep in certain areas, due to the amount of wool and droppings around!

A breed commonly found here is the rare Greyface Dartmoor sheep. Their wool is curly and they have distinctive facial markings. You may also see Whiteface Dartmoor sheep and Dartmoor Scotch Blackface sheep. Some say that the native Dartmoor breeds descend from the Iron Age Soay sheep. They have certainly roamed Dartmoor for centuries and are wonderful to see whilst out on a walk on the moors. Between March and July is lambing season, so if you want to see some cute Dartmoor lambs, that’s the best time to see them.

Dartmoor Greyface Sheep

Birds – Wildlife and Animals on Dartmoor

Dartmoor is a great place for a spot of bird watching! You will find a fascinating range of breeds. Some people visit Dartmoor especially to see birds that are rare in other parts of the UK. These rare breeds include the ring ouzel and the cuckoo. Meadow pipits, stonechats, skylarks and snipes can also be found flying around Dartmoor. Birds of prey can also be spotted overhead, including the incredible Buzzard.

Birds on Dartmoor

Reptiles and Fish – Wildlife and Animals on Dartmoor

They are rare to spot, but the UK’s only venomous snake, the adder, can be found on Dartmoor. These snakes are quite shy and tend to mainly emerge to bask in the sun. They like to live in woodland and heathland, so Dartmoor is the perfect spot of these reptiles. Dog owners should be wary of Adders on Dartmoor, as if they are pestered, they can bite. Frogs and toads can also be found in ponds and streams across Dartmoor. In rivers, there is an abundance of Salmon and Trout. Fingle Bridge in Drewsteignton is a prime spot for fish. 

Adder Wildlife and Animals on Dartmoor

Small Creatures – Wildlife and Animals on Dartmoor

Bats, mice and various other mammals also live and thrive on Dartmoor. There are 16 bat species recorded here! Otters live near rivers and the adorable dormice burrow in the moorland. If you’re lucky, you may also see a polecat – a weasel type of mammal – bounding its way between foliage and rocks. Polecats have been reintroduced in recent years as numbers of the mammal dwindled. A record from the year 2000 showed the polecat was not present in Devon and after extensive conservational work, it was wonderful that they are back and on Dartmoor in recent years!

Otter - Wildlife and Animals on Dartmoor

Flora and Fauna – Wildlife and Animals on Dartmoor

The moorland is mainly covered in grassland, which cattle graze on throughout the year. The higher parts are usually covered in bog and moss, with cotton grass blossoming in the summer. Marsh orchids, knapweed and oxeye daisy are also prevalent on Dartmoor. In the Spring, Summer and Autumn, the changing colours across the moor is a real treat to see and look picturesque on clear, sunny days. Winter on Dartmoor is just as beautiful and somewhat magical, as snow can be found on the higher parts and stunning frost glistens at sunrise. The woodlands on Dartmoor are classed as temperate rain-forests, which have lines of oak trees and beautiful bluebells.

Wildlife on Dartmoor

Make sure to look out for the wildlife and animals on Dartmoor on your next adventure! You will never tire of the beauty here and the fascinating wildlife that inhabits this wonderful place.