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Local Wildlife In Tuscany

The hot sun and long, warm days have encouraged a surprising diversity of wildlife to inhabit Tuscany. Tuscany’s national parks, wildlife reserves, mountains and vast woodland areas provide a habitat for wildlife to flourish.

Not many people realise that Tuscany has some fantastic local wildlife to see. Deep in the Tuscan countryside you may come across European animals such as hare, deer, porcupines, badgers, dormice, red foxes, pheasants, wolves, and even wild boar.

Tuscany is also a great place to go bird watching. A wide range of beautiful birds can be spotted throughout the region. Birdwatching enthusiasts should head to the mountains and marshlands to see birds such as the tawny owl, herons, ring ouzel and the rare glossy ibis.

Read about some of the most common animals found in Tuscany by clicking on the links below and book your Tuscan wildlife adventure.

Local Wildlife In Tuscany

Scorpions of Tuscany, Italy, Europe

The scorpions found in Italy and Tuscany are not venomous. They are black and small, rarely growing beyond 30mm in length, and if they do sting, the result is similar to that of a bee or wasp sting. Only people with allergies to insect stings need to take further precautions. If a scorpion is found inside a building, it simply needs to be trapped and removed.

A holiday in Italy wouldn't be complete without meeting some of the local residents; however, perhaps the native scorpion population wasn't what you had in mind! Before you start jumping on the sofa, it's worth mentioning that the variety you'll find in Tuscany are pretty harmless. While a Tuscan scorpion can give you a nasty sting, it's been likened to the strength of a bee or wasp, so although this isn't pleasant, you won't find yourself in hospital.

In actual fact there are about 1,400 species of scorpion in the world, and surprisingly, only 25 of these are fatal to humans, giving the rest a bad name. Thankfully, the species of scorpion you'll find in Europe aren't dangerous, although allergic reactions have been observed in some unlucky victims.

As scorpions are nocturnal, you'll be lucky to see one during the day, although if you leave the door to your villa open overnight, they could venture inside. It's best to take sensible precautions by ensuring you eliminate their food sources, so make sure you buy a household pest spray to keep flies and spiders at bay. Shake out any clothes or bedding before getting inside, and don't walk around the villa barefoot.

Scorpion attacks are relatively rare in Tuscany, but if the worst does happen, then it's important to know how to treat the sting. First of all, be sure to clean the affected area with soap and water to rid the site of any dirt and bacteria. Elevate the affected limb and apply a cold compress to soothe the swelling. Finally, take some simple pain relief tablets, and within 30 minutes you should notice the pain beginning to subside. If you experience any further symptoms or a child is stung, it's best to be seen by a doctor to be on the safe side.
Here is some further information about Scorpions
Euscorpius alpha Caporiacco, 1950.
This species was formerly known as a subspecies of E. germanus. Molecular and genetic analysis of the different populations of E. germanus in southern Switzerland, northern Italy and southern Austria revealed the presence of two different forms, separated by the river Adige (Etsch) in the northern Italy. The genetic difference between the two forms was large enough to justify an elevation of the western form to a new species, E. alpha in the end of 2000.
It is almost impossible to separate E. alpha and E. germanus by using morphological characteristics, but collection site will tell which species you have. E. alpha (western distribution) and E. germanus (eastern distribution) do not overlap in distribution. E. alpha is a small, black scorpion, which rarely reach more than 30 mm in length. It is usually found in mountain areas with a reasonable high humidity, often under stones, logs etc. A. alpha is so far reported from Italy and southern Switzerland.

Venom: Few medical data available, but data from Italy suggest local effects only. Mildly venomous. Harmless scorpion, which rarely will use its stinger.

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Wild Boar

Wild boar are numerous in Tuscany, and the best time and place to see them is at night near cultivated land. Boar love to feed on grapes in the vineyards. They are hunted between November and January, and boar meat is so popular that one dish - Pappardelle Cinghiale - is known as Tuscany's national dish.

The Tuscan wild boar – or 'cinghiale' – has the dubious double honour of being a local emblem and a local delicacy. It enjoys a measure of protection, particularly in the densely forested slopes of the Maremma and in other regional parks, but the snuffling and foraging which usefully aerates the woodland floor is less welcome in village gardens - or in Tuscany's famous vineyards. Tempted down from the hills by the scent of ripening grapes, wild boar can rip through rows of vines in minutes, causing damage counted in the millions.

Given the animal's reputation as a pest, few locals argue with the need for population control. The hunting season – between mid-September and late-January – remains part of the rural year, particularly for the older generation, and provides a prime ingredient for rich and sustaining recipes. When simmered, the lean meat lends a subtly gamey flavour to the sauce for pappardelle cinghiale: the closest thing Tuscany has to a national dish. Savouring it on a winter's day with a fine wine may demonstrate why many in the countryside are reluctant to abandon their tradition.

Fortunately, Tuscany's visitors tend to take a gentler interest in these creatures. Your best chance of spotting a wild boar is when driving along a winding country road at dusk. Look for a blackish-grey back, with a slight bristly ridge, hidden in the undergrowth; if the boar ventures out, you'll notice the distinctive, wedge-like silhouette, the animal's long snout and its surprisingly dainty trot. The young are more or less as Walt Disney would have drawn them: cute piglets with pale stripes running through their chocolate-brown fur. Be aware that their mothers may attack if they feel their family is threatened and in any case you should always treat wild boar with extreme caution.

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Porcupines

Of all the creatures populating Tuscany, the porcupine can be the most aggressive. Its poor eyesight means it is prepared to attack first and ask questions later. Porcupines are mostly active at night, but if one is spotted during the day it should be left alone. Aggressive behaviour includes grunts, stamping feet and rattling the spines on its tail.

In a region with so many claims to fame, it’s highly unlikely that anyone has ever visited Tuscany for a porcupine-spotting holiday. But, in practice, that works out just fine. For bright-eyed visitors bristling with curiosity about the area’s wildlife, the sight of one of these quietly confident locals is an unexpected highlight. And as for the largely peace-loving ‘istrici’, they are happy to keep a low profile – if that’s the right phrase for a creature with a coat of white-tipped spines on its back. Safe from all but the most confident predators, they continue doing what they do best: roaming pine woods and farmland with typical rodent resourcefulness.

These quiet creatures are most active between sunset and the early hours of the morning, when acute hearing, sensitive paws and a finely developed sense of smell are more useful than sight, particularly in the burrows and undergrowth that they love. Calm and insouciant by nature, they tend to move at an amble rather than a scuttle; although if you happen to see them at their most impressive, flaring their quills in defence, it’s probably time to get back in the car…

Tuscany’s population of crested porcupines are the descendants of the first few pairs imported from Africa by the ancient Romans, who intended them as a food source. Nowadays, it’s the porcupines which do most of the eating, sometimes roaming over 10 kilometres from their lairs in search of windfall fruits as well as seeds and insects. Their fondness for roots and tubers, combined with an ability to tunnel under fences, infuriates the region’s gardeners, and although porcupines are less destructive than wild boar, they share a notorious appetite for Chianti – or at least the grapes.

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Roe and Fallow Deer

Tuscany is home to both the small roe and larger fallow deer. The shy roe deer tends to hide in the forests, although cultivated crops can tempt it out to feed. In contrast, you’ll spot herds of the bolder fallow deer on open arable land. Both types are majestic creatures and watching them roaming free in the Tuscan countryside – running, jumping and swimming – is a truly memorable experience. Dusk is when deer venture out, making it the best time to view and photograph them.

The roe deer, known as the 'capriolo' in Italian, weighs around 35kg and it can be identified by its small tail, which is only 2cm-3cm in length. As the seasons change in Tuscany, its coat turns from red-brown to thick grey by the winter months. The bucks shed their antlers in November, and these regrow to their full length by May.

The fallow deer's Italian name is 'daino', and it weighs about 85kg. It has a distinctive long neck and slim head and a unique set of antlers – a close look reveals tiny spades on the end to help lift objects from the ground. These antlers are shed by May and re-grow during summer. The fallow deer’s coat is often spotted and comes in a variety of beautiful shades of brown.

Although both types of deer prefer to turn out at dusk, you are still likely to see females during daylight hours because their instinct is to protect their young at night. For the very best chance of spotting these graceful animals, look for a location that is rich in blueberries and mushrooms – ideal grazing for deer.

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The Hare

One animal you are very likely to spot in Tuscany is the hare. It is much larger than the rabbit, its more numerous cousin, and one easy way to tell them apart is the hare’s bigger, black-tipped ears. The hare's fur is generally a shade between sand and brown, and white on their bellies, though this can vary; for example, hares in the far north of Italy turn white in winter to blend in with the snow.

This ability to camouflage itself is important for the hare because it spends a large part of each day lying still in the ground cover, hidden from predators. Its preferred territory is cultivated countryside or level ground within forests, where its incredible ability to turn in different directions at speed is put to good use when fleeing danger. The hare has longer legs than rabbits and more powerful forelegs. This enables it to make sudden changes of direction when running to throw off predators. This trait, known as telemarking, also helps identify hares from rabbits.

Also unlike rabbits, hares do not live beneath ground but in scrapes, small areas of hollowed-out earth where they can lie still. If you spot scrapes around your villa in Tuscany, it is a sure sign that hares are close by.

The best time to look for hares is during the evening and as night falls because they are most active during the hours of darkness, when they feed on plants and mate. Baby hares are called leverets and are born throughout the year. At birth, they are already quite self-sufficient; their eyes and ears are already open, unlike many mammals. By the time they reach the age of one, they are fully grown and independent.

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Experience an official tuscany tour with

Private Florence Shopping Tour

Florence private 3 hours Shopping Tour: A tour in Florence full of Made in Italy privileged products and specialties of Tuscany and in particular those typical Florentine. Designed for those in a search of extraordinary style so to bring home an authentic Florence Style!

from 33,55 US Dollar

Italian Opera Concert in Santa Monaca Church

Embark on a wonderful evening of the most famous Italian opera arias. The program features arias from 'La Traviata,' 'La Bohème,' 'Tosca,' 'Madame Butterfly,' 'The Marriage of Figaro,' and 'The Barber of Seville,' all performed by professional singers. The evening is set in the heart of Florence in the beautiful 15h-century Church of St. Monaca.

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Semi private cooking class with professional chef in private villa optional market visit and transfer from Florence

Immerse yourself in this 5 hour culinary experience at the historic Villa Pandolfini estate, on the hills over Florence. Gain hands-on experience and learn to cook with confidence as you create a tantalising 5 course meal. Our professional Italian chefs will teach you the secrets of Tuscan cooking, giving you the skills to impress even the most experienced foodies!

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Individual Afternoon Uffizi Gallery Tour only for you

This visit to the Uffizi Gallery will be a tour of Italian art history. You will be carefully guided through the museum, and we will reveal the secrets of the most important Italian painters through their best-known works.

from 299,55 US Dollar
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