I was looking for mammals during a family trip between 24th of August and 7th of September in 2021. I brought along my camera, a flashlight and bat detector and left my thermal imager at home. I noted what I saw during the day, went only for a few night walks and one – nonvoluntary – night drive.

For a short, easy to read introduction to Swedish wildlife I refer to the Wikipedia article „Wildlife of Sweden“.

Sweden doesn‘t seem to have a national animal, but looking around in souvenir shops it could be the Elk (Alces alces). (Note that the Eurasian Elk is called „moose“ in North Amerika.) But since it is intensely hunted, the Elk is not a common sight during the day, whereas the Roe Deer – also a hunter‘s favourite – is probably the most easily seen mammal in the south of Sweden.

During the first days on the highways in the south we see a lot of roadkills – hares, foxes, badgers, other mustelids and hedgehogs. One simple reason for these casualties seems to be that the mesh size of the wildlife fences is too big. The animals just go through the fence, a problem that could be fixed – at least for some of the species.

24.8.: Our first destination is Tylebäck Camping, near Halmstad in the Southwest. The main reason to go there is the beach. An evening walk along the creek, that runs close to the camp site produces one Roe Deer (Capreolus capreolus), one European Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus), one European Badger (Meles meles) and two Apodemus Mice (sylvaticus or flavicollis).

The mouth of the creek at Tylebäck Camping
European Rabbit
The creek at night

25.8.: Next day we drive to Rönnäng, Tjörn Island and Dyrön Island respectively. (You reach Tjörn from the mainland via a bridge. From there a ferry takes you to the smaller Dyrön). The reason to visit Dyrön is a small population of introduced Tyrrhenian Mouflon (Ovis aries musimon)

idyllic Dyrön Island
Easy to see animal: The first local we ask, knows where to look for Dyrön Mouflon
Mouflon on Dyrön are probably not considered game, but numbers are controlled. Apparently they enter the gardens and do some damage.

One other Mouflon introduction site in Sweden I know is the Stora Nassa Archipelago (east of Stockholm), which is at almost at 60° latitude. Dyrön is at nearly 58°. I assume these locations must be among the northernmost occurrences of the Mouflon. During our day trip we see three different groups, totalling around 15 animals (all females, young and a male yearling).

an unusual sight: Mouflon in a skerry landscape

26.8.: Near Rörviks Camping / Hamburgsund I photograph two more Roe Deer.

Roe Deer doe with young of the year

The plan is to go to Kosterhavets, Västra Götaland County – a marine Nationalpark park close to the Norwegian border. Seal watching tours are offered in the area. Because of high winds we cross this location off our list.

Near Torsby, Värmland County, we ask locals where to look for Elk and are told that at this time of the year one has to go to higher altitudes – between 4 and 6 in the morning and after 8 in the evening. At Våmland Camping the owner recommends lake Ljusnetjärnen (which is further down the valley). The location looks indeed good, but we are just not lucky. 

Ljusnetjärnen: looks like perfect elk habitat …
… what we get to see instead, is this beautiful pair of Whooper Swans

We go on a hike in outstanding Fulufjället National Park / province of Dalarna. The geography is dominated by a bare plateau (fjäll), and valleys with old-growth forests. It is said that the lichens on the fjäll are remarkably rich and are a result of the absence of reindeer.

The typical vegetation of the fjäll

Wikipedia writes the park is a notable location for Brown Bear and Eurasian Lynx. But an employee at the visitor centre “Naturum” says she has never seen a bear, whereas Red Fox is common in the forest and often seen on her way to work along the road. The Roe Deer is here at the northern edge of its distribution in Europe, so I assume the density can’t be very high and so must be the density of its predator the lynx.

Elk is a possibility – more in the forest than on the Fjäll. A Polar Fox on the Fjäll is apparently a very rare sighting.

The Siberian Jay is the park’s symbol. Notable sights at Fulufjället include Sweden’s largest waterfall, Njupeskär, and Old Tjikko, with 9550 years, one of the world’s oldest trees.

The information centre Naturum
Siberian Jay – fed at the Naturum with Wiener sausages
Old Tjikko. Hard to believe: one of the world’s oldest trees
A rare sight from the car: Common European Viper

Near our Fjäll camp we notice a larger bat, flying about 10 metres over a pond: Not having my bat detector with me, I reckon it is a Northern Bat (Eptesicus nilssonii) – the only bat species that reproduces north of the Arctic circle. Nathusius‘ Pipistrelle, Brandt‘s and Daubenton‘s Bat are smaller. The Brown Long-eared Bat is bound to forests. The Noctule is bigger.

our camp and the place, where we saw the bat
Common Shrew – with typical tri-coloured pelage

The next day I find a dead Common Shrew (Sorex araneus) on the trail and a live Grey-sided Vole (Clethrionomys rufocanus) – taxonomy and naming is disputed) – between some rocks. 

fox scat on a marked stone
Elk pellets
me in Grey-sided Vole habitat
ahhh, just mist it! But red back and grey sides were very flashy. According to Aulagnier et al (2009) the tail of the closely related Bank Vole is bicoloured, red above. Whereas in the Grey-sided Vole the tail is grey – as in this photo

Back at the Naturum I photograph an almost tame Eurasian red Squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) at a bird feeder. There are also Sibirian Jays, Willow Tits and a Nuthatch (Sitta europaea europaea). The employee tells me that the crumbs, that fall to the ground, attract Grey-sided Voles. She sees them early in the morning before the visitors arrive.

Eurasian red Squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris)
Nuthatch (Sitta europaea europaea)

29.8., Städjan-Nipfjället near Idre: This is our northernmost location on this trip and the southern-most location for Reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) in Sweden. We see around 20 animals. According to a local we talk to wild Reindeer do not occur in Sweden anymore.

Reindeer habitat near Städjan-Nipfjället
 Reindeer (Rangifer tarandus)
the view from Städjan-Nipfjället 

Less than 100 km north of Idre, near the town of Tännäs, there is also a possibility to see Muskoxen. Check https://myskoxcentrum.se for details.

31.8.: We rent some kayaks with Nordic Discovery near Malingsbo-Kloten, Bergslagen and go on a three-days-trip.

My daughter enjoying the paddling

We note some Beaver activity close to a portage at 59.947032, 15.257289. I also find old elk droppings. A site that looks promising for elk is a bay at 59.982833, 15.255455.

beaver lodge
Brown Hawker (Aeshna-grandis) – Braune Mosaikjungfer

1.9.: Gålö is THE place for Roe Deer in Sweden. We see 10 animals in one meadow across Gålö Havsbad campground in broad daylight.

two Roe Deer bucks

I also note two European Hare (Lepus europaeus), some Daubenton‘s Bats (Myotis daubentonii) hunting over the Baltic Sea. There are Soprano Pipistrelle(Pipistrellus pygmaeus) at the beach und on the campground. The camp also harbours Brown long-eared Bat (Plecotus auritus). My bat detector indicates furthermore Common bent-wing Bat (Miniopterus schreibersii). But the occurrence of this mainly Mediterranean species in Sweden in unlikely.

At Karlslunds Marina I see twice Fallow Deer (Dama dama) in the forest. Down the road we witness an accident: Somebody had crashed into an Elk (Alces alces) – the animal being still alive when we pass the site.

3.9.: We cross from Årsta to the island of Utö. According to an employee it is possible to see seals on the islets along the route. Harbour Porpoises are in general a very rare sight in the Baltic Sea. We rent bikes on the island for the day and run into a Roe Deer doe, her young and a Eurasian red Squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris).

We camp near Tyresta Nature Reserve. A rioting man makes us believe it is better to leave the site – at 1 am!. Thanks to the guy, we see three Wild Boar (Sus scrofa) crossing the road in front of us near Gålö.

5.9.: Norra Kvill: Norra Kvill is a small national park (established in 1927) near Vimmerby, Småland, southeastern Sweden. Typical are big rocks in a pine and spruce forest overgrown with lichens. It seems to be worthwhile to look for mice and shrew – which I don‘t have a chance to do.

stunning: inside Norra Kvill National Park

A few kilometers from the park is the Rumskulla oak, Europe’s largest Pedunculate Oak (Quercus robur) with a circumference of about 14 metres. The oak is thought to be about 1 000 years old. The vicinity looks also great for small mammals.

6.9. Kullaberg is a piece of land projecting out into the sea (Kattegat), north of Denmark. According to an information bord you have a good chance of spotting Harbour Porpoise at Kullaberg. Apparently they are present year round. Bad luck, we don’t see it.

Opposite Möllehässle Campground we see two Red Deer (Cervus elaphus) females and three calves. On the campground my batdetector lists Northern Bat (Eptesicus nilssonii), Common Serotine (Eptesicus serotinus), Soprano Pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pygmaeus) and Lesser Noctule (Nyctalus leisleri). Savi‘s Pipistrelle (Hypsugo savii) is also indicated, but must be an error (distribution!).

Kullaberg is a peninsula and nature reserve of land protruding into the Kattegat near the town of Mölle in southwest Sweden (photo taken from an information board).
Red Deer (Cervus elaphus)

Summary: Wonderful country! Gotta come back!!