What Animals are Protected in the Netherlands?


The Netherlands, a country famous for its picturesque landscapes and vibrant cities, also boasts a remarkable commitment to wildlife and animal protection. Its diverse ecosystems, which range from coastal wetlands to dense forests, are home to a wide array of native and domestic animals.

This article delves into the intricate web of laws and regulations that safeguard the country’s biodiversity and ensure the welfare of both wildlife and domesticated animals. The Netherlands recognizes the significance of wildlife preservation, not only for ecological balance but also for cultural and economic reasons. Wildlife tourism, agriculture, and recreational activities are just a few areas in which animals play a vital role.

National Laws and Regulations

In the Netherlands, wildlife protection and animal welfare are core values upheld through a comprehensive legal framework. This framework safeguards native species, preserves natural habitats, and regulates activities like hunting and fishing, all while promoting harmony between humans and nature.

Flora and Fauna Act (Flora- en faunawet)

The Flora and Fauna Act stands as a cornerstone in the Netherlands’ commitment to safeguarding its native flora and fauna. This comprehensive legislation classifies species based on their conservation status, distinguishing between those that require special protection and those that can be managed more flexibly. It lays down strict regulations to safeguard endangered plants and animals, prescribing measures to ensure their continued survival. By categorizing species, the law allows for targeted conservation efforts and emphasizes the preservation of biodiversity as a shared responsibility of society.

Nature Conservation Act (Natuurbeschermingswet)

The Nature Conservation Act of the Netherlands underscores the nation’s dedication to preserving its natural habitats. This legislation is designed to protect not only individual species but also the ecosystems that support them. It designates Special Protection Areas (SPAs), strategically chosen for their ecological significance, to ensure the safeguarding of vulnerable ecosystems and species within their boundaries. By doing so, it contributes to the larger goal of preserving biodiversity on a landscape scale. The Nature Conservation Act works in concert with the Flora and Fauna Act, creating a cohesive legal framework that addresses both individual species and the broader ecological context in which they thrive.

Hunting and Fishing Regulations

Hunting and fishing are age-old traditions and vital activities for many in the Netherlands. However, these practices are carefully regulated to ensure that they are conducted sustainably and do not harm wildlife populations. The government establishes specific hunting and fishing seasons to prevent overexploitation and provides permits to individuals and groups adhering to these regulations. By carefully controlling these activities, the Netherlands aims to strike a balance between the cultural and economic importance of hunting and fishing and the need to protect its natural heritage.

Endangered Species Protection

The Netherlands takes its role in preserving global biodiversity seriously. It maintains a Red List of Threatened Species, a comprehensive inventory of plants and animals at risk within its borders. This list serves as a reference for conservation efforts, highlighting those species in need of immediate attention. The nation is committed to protecting and restoring populations of these endangered species through a variety of initiatives. Habitat restoration projects, captive breeding programs, and public awareness campaigns all contribute to the broader mission of ensuring that these species continue to thrive in their natural habitats. These proactive measures showcase the Netherlands’ dedication to the long-term conservation of its unique biodiversity.

Protected Animals in the Netherlands

The Netherlands is dedicated to protecting a wide range of native wildlife species. Here are some of the species that enjoy legal protection in the country:


Peregrine Falcon

The peregrine falcon, renowned for its impressive hunting abilities and incredible speed, is one of the Netherlands’ cherished raptors. These magnificent birds of prey have a storied history in the country, and their protection is vital for maintaining a healthy ecosystem. Peregrine falcons are often found nesting on cliffs, tall buildings, and bridges, making them a visible and iconic species in Dutch landscapes.

European Rabbit

The European rabbit, known for its iconic burrowing behavior, enjoys protection in the Netherlands due to its crucial role in various ecosystems. These rabbits contribute to seed dispersal and vegetation control, shaping the landscapes they inhabit. Their protected status helps ensure the stability of local ecosystems and supports biodiversity.

Balearic Shearwater

The Balearic shearwater, a remarkable seabird species, finds refuge and protection along the Dutch coast. These graceful birds are known for their long-distance migrations, often traveling thousands of kilometers in search of food. Protection measures aim to safeguard their coastal habitats and ensure their survival in the North Sea.

Spiny Dogfish

The small but resilient spiny dogfish is a protected species in Dutch waters. Often referred to as a “spurdog,” these sharks play a crucial role in marine ecosystems. Protecting them helps maintain the balance of oceanic food webs and supports the overall health of Dutch seas.

Bechstein’s Bat

Bechstein’s bat, one of Europe’s most threatened bat species, benefits from conservation efforts in the Netherlands. These bats are known for their forested habitats and reliance on old-growth woodlands. Conservation initiatives focus on preserving suitable habitats and ensuring their roosting sites remain undisturbed.

European Mink

The European mink, a semi-aquatic mustelid, is protected due to its declining populations. These small carnivores are closely related to ferrets and otters and are known for their affinity for freshwater habitats. Conservation efforts in the Netherlands aim to safeguard their remaining populations and restore their habitats.

Eurasian Otter

The Eurasian otter, a semi-aquatic mammal, enjoys protection to aid in its recovery from historical population declines. These graceful swimmers play a vital role in Dutch wetlands and freshwater ecosystems. Conservation initiatives focus on ensuring clean and healthy waterways to support otter populations.

Sociable Lapwing

The sociable lapwing, a bird species of conservation concern, finds shelter and protection in the Netherlands. These elegant waders are known for their social behavior and migratory patterns. Conservation efforts aim to provide suitable stopover sites during their long migrations and protect their breeding habitats.

Great Bustard

The great bustard, one of Europe’s heaviest flying birds, receives protection in Dutch grasslands. These large birds are known for their impressive courtship displays and open grassland habitats. Conservation measures aim to safeguard their nesting and foraging grounds in the Netherlands.

Coenagrion Mercuriale

An endangered damselfly species, Coenagrion mercuriale, is a priority for conservation efforts in the Netherlands. These delicate insects inhabit clean, slow-flowing waters and are sensitive indicators of aquatic habitat health. Conservation initiatives focus on preserving their breeding habitats and water quality.

Pond Bat

The pond bat, a bat species reliant on aquatic habitats, is safeguarded in Dutch wetlands. These bats are known for their distinctive feeding behavior, skimming the surface of water bodies to catch insects. Conservation efforts aim to protect their wetland habitats and maintain healthy insect populations.

Corn Crake

The corn crake, known for its distinctive call, is a protected species in Dutch meadows and grasslands. These secretive birds are known for their breeding habits in tall grasses. Conservation measures include preserving suitable nesting sites and maintaining traditional agricultural practices that benefit their populations.

Eurasian Curlew

Conservation measures are in place to protect the Eurasian curlew, a wader bird facing population declines. These charismatic birds are known for their long, curved bills and distinctive calls. Conservation initiatives focus on preserving their coastal and wetland habitats.

Great Raft Spider

This impressive spider species benefits from conservation initiatives in Dutch wetlands. The great raft spider is known for its large size and ability to walk on water. Protection measures aim to preserve their unique habitat and ensure a healthy population.

Garden Dormouse

The garden dormouse, a charming arboreal rodent, receives protection to ensure its survival. These agile climbers are known for their fluffy tails and nocturnal habits. Conservation efforts focus on maintaining suitable woodland habitats.

School Shark

The school shark, a species of concern in European waters, is protected in Dutch seas. These sharks are known for their schooling behavior and play a role in marine food chains. Protection measures aim to maintain their populations and the overall health of Dutch marine ecosystems.

Western Barbastelle

This rare bat species enjoys protection in the Netherlands, where its habitats are conserved. The western barbastelle is known for its unique hunting techniques and forested habitats. Conservation efforts aim to protect their roosting sites and foraging grounds.

Greater Horseshoe Bat

The greater horseshoe bat, one of Europe’s largest bat species, is a focus of Dutch conservation efforts. These bats are known for their distinctive horseshoe-shaped noseleaf and reliance on underground roosts. Conservation initiatives aim to protect their roosting sites and ensure suitable hunting areas.


Dormice, known for their hibernation habits, are protected to maintain their populations in Dutch woodlands. These charming rodents are known for their arboreal lifestyles. Conservation measures focus on preserving their habitats and ensuring their food sources remain abundant.

Red Deer

The majestic red deer receives protection in Dutch forests and natural reserves. These iconic herbivores play a crucial role in shaping forest ecosystems. Conservation efforts aim to maintain healthy populations and habitats.

European Hamster

Conservation efforts aim to prevent the decline of the European hamster, a burrowing rodent. These charismatic mammals are known for their burrows and underground lifestyles. Protection measures focus on maintaining suitable habitats and addressing threats to their populations.


The iconic stork, a symbol of prosperity and fertility, is protected in Dutch wetlands and grasslands. These large wading birds are known for their striking appearance and cultural significance. Conservation efforts aim to provide suitable nesting sites and protect their feeding areas.

Sand Lizard

The sand lizard, a reptile species with specialized habitat requirements, is safeguarded in the Netherlands. These lizards are known for their sand dune and heathland habitats. Conservation measures focus on preserving their unique ecosystems.


The elusive wildcat, one of Europe’s most elusive mammals, benefits from conservation measures in the Netherlands. These secretive felines are known for their resemblance to domestic cats. Conservation initiatives aim to protect their habitats and ensure their populations remain healthy.

What Domestic Animals Live in the Netherlands

Cattle, horses, sheep, and poultry are among the most common domesticated animals in the Netherlands. These animals serve various roles, from providing food and income in agriculture to being cherished pets and even holding cultural significance.

Domestic animals in the Netherlands have multifaceted roles. Cattle and sheep are essential to Dutch dairy and meat production, while horses are integral to agriculture and equestrian sports. Domesticated animals are also cherished companions for many Dutch families.

What Exotic Pets are Legal in the Netherlands?

In the Netherlands, exotic pet ownership is permitted but closely regulated to ensure the welfare of the animals and safeguard local ecosystems. To own an exotic pet legally, individuals must meet strict licensing and permit requirements. The Dutch government maintains a specific list of exotic species that can be owned as pets, such as certain reptiles, birds, and small mammals.

These regulations are in place to guarantee responsible ownership practices and protect against the potential introduction of invasive species. The Netherlands’ approach reflects its commitment to both animal welfare and environmental conservation.

Can you own Snakes in the Netherlands?

In the Netherlands, snake ownership is subject to specific regulations designed to ensure the reptiles are kept in suitable conditions and do not pose threats to the environment or public safety. Certain snake species are allowed as pets, but ownership requires obtaining the necessary licenses and permits, and demonstrating a commitment to responsible care.

Stringent guidelines exist for the care, housing, and transportation of pet snakes, all aimed at ensuring their well-being and the safety of the public, reflecting the country’s dedication to responsible exotic pet ownership.


In conclusion, the Netherlands stands as a global model for the protection of both wildlife and domestic animals. Its comprehensive legal frameworks, stringent regulations, and unwavering commitment to conservation and animal welfare make it a nation dedicated to preserving its natural and cultural heritage for generations to come.

By setting a high standard in responsible animal care and habitat preservation, the Netherlands not only safeguards its own biodiversity but also inspires other nations to follow suit. As challenges such as habitat loss and climate change persist, the Dutch commitment to these values remains an exemplar for the world, offering hope and a blueprint for a harmonious coexistence between humans and the diverse array of creatures that share our planet.

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