Kuwait’s Native Animals

Terrestrial Fauna of the State of Kuwait

Over the last few decades, the desert of Kuwait has, unfortunately, witnessed local extinctions of Arabian wolf (Canis lupus arabs), Arabian oryx (Oryx leucoryx), striped hyaena (Hyaena hyaena), jackal (Canis aureus), honey badger (Mellivora capensis), Gazelle subgutturosa and G. Gazelle, sand cat (Felis margarita), Ruppell’s fox (Vulpes rueppellii) and Cape hare (Lepus capensis). Species of bird and reptile are also recorded to be extinct or threatened in Kuwait. Habitat loss and fragmentation, human impact and overhunting were the major causes for the extinction. Habitat fragmentation also continues to threaten the existing wildlife of Kuwait. Genetic pooling, species isolation, and condensation of genetic mutations which might lead to population collapse in isolated populations are some of the threats exerted by habitat fragmentation. Many species in Kuwait are losing not only their preferred habitats, but also habitats that can ensure their survival. Unless drastic and fundamental measures are taken, Kuwait will witness a huge decline in its biodiversity in future.  

Recorded wildlife species in the State of Kuwait are enormous considering the poor environmental conditions of terrestrial ecosystems. Several faunal phyla had been recorded in the State of Kuwait and were divided as following: 354 species of birds (both migratory and resident), 32 of mammals, 42 of reptiles and amphibians and, 806 of species of arthropods. The following illustration reflects the percentage of each phylum within the total wildlife species recorded in Kuwait.   

Arthropods

The arthropods constitute over 90% of the animal kingdom and are classified in the phylum Arthropoda. Terrestrial arthropods species include: insects, arachnids, chilopods, and diplopod. They are distinguished from other animals by:

  • An exoskeleton (a skeleton on the outside of the body).
  • Body divided into distinct parts.
  • Jointed legs and appendages.
  • Bilateral symmetry (both sides of the body are the same).

Selected arthropod species from Kuwait:

  • Grasshopper

There are 26 subspecies of grasshoppers recorded in Kuwait and the most common one is the Anacridum melanorhodon. Grasshoppers are herbivores animals and have a diet that consists solely of plant matter. Grasshoppers eat grasses, weeds, leaves, shrubs, bark and numerous other species of plants that surround them. (See Plate 1, appendix).

  • Desert locust
  • Scorpion

There are two types of scorpion identified in the State of Kuwait. They mainly live in remote areas away from human settlements, as they are usual victims of unjustified killing by humans due to their reputation and poisonous abilities. Yellow scorpion Compsobuthus arabicus (Plate 2, appendix) and black scorpion Androctonus crassicaudatus (Plate 3, appendix).

  • Ants
  • Butterflies
  • Bees
  • Beetles

Many species of beetles were recorded and identified in Kuwait. Their exact number is still uncertain due to the diversity within species and differences in life stages for each species. Beetles are important for ecosystems as they are pollinators, feeds on small items to clean the habitats and to be predated, in turn, by birds, lizards and mammals. Therefore, their role in the food chain is important. An example of beetles is the spotted asparagus beetle Crioceris duodecimpunctata (plate 4, appendix).

  • Wasps
  • ladybirds
Birds

Different species of birds have been identified and documented in the State of Kuwait. These birds could be classified as migratory and resident species. There are also costal and terrestrial species but generally interact in some areas. Kuwait lies within two major migratory routes for bird’s migration. The first is from Northern-eastern Europe to the southern half of the African continent and the second is from Western Europe to the Southern parts of Asia. Both directions are used twice a year, in autumn and spring but with different directions. Unfortunately, and with the loss of habitats and overhunting, the number and diversity of migrating birds passing Kuwait have been reduced over the years.

Selected species of birds from Kuwait:

  • Spotted Eagle
  • Steppe Eagle
  • Imperial Eagle
  • Golden Eagle
  • Booted Eagle
  • Common Kingfisher
  • Mallard
  • Night Heron
  • Squacco Heron
  • Indian Pond Heron
  • Cattle Egret
  • Reef Heron
  • Little Egret
  • Grey Heron
  • Purple Heron
  • Crab plover

Crab plovers (Dromas ardeola) are coastal birds of international significance as they breed in large numbers in Kuwait. Their population is estimated to be more than 1,500 breeding pairs, which comprises 5% of the world’s population (See Plate 5, appendix).

  • Collared Dove
  • Saker Falcon
  • Peregrine Falcon
  • Barbary Falcon
  • Yellow-throated Sparrow
  • Chaffinch
  • Hoopoe

Hoopoe (Upupa epops), is a common migratory that is seen in Kuwait. It has a cultural importance within the region and usually associated with tales from the history (See Plate 6, appendix).

  • European Roller

European Roller (Coracias garrulous), is a common passage migrant. Mostly seen catching dragonflies and flying insects’ history (See Plate 7, appendix).

  • Bee-eater

There are two species of bee-eater recorded in Kuwait, the Blue-cheeked Bee-eater (Merops persicus) and the European Bee-eater (Merops apiaster); both are migratory species to the area (See Plate 8, appendix).

Mammals

Many mammalian species recorded in Kuwait has witnessed extinction within the last 100 years. Kuwait had lost highly recognized mammals due to over hunting and habitat loss. Mammals such as; Arabian wolf, Arabian Oryx, striped hyena, jackal, honey badger, gazelles, sand cat, Ruppell’s fox and Cape hare (refer to the following chart).

Status of mammalian species in Kuwait as recorded in the last 100 year.

Selected species of mammals from Kuwait:

  • Red fox

Red fox (Vulpes vulpes) have a wide distribution range worldwide, it is found in all continents and different environments which indicate high adaptability for this species. Nevertheless, and despite its adaptation, the numbers and distribution of this species have diminished very rapidly in the last few decades. The main reason for that is the habitat loss and destruction of native vegetation, which causes in turn, the loss of food resources for this animal (See Plate 9, appendix).

  • Wagner’s gerbil
  • Cheesman’s gerbil
  • Libyan jird
  • Sundevall’s jird
  • Lesser jerboa

The lesser jerboas (Jaculus jaculus), family Dipodidae, are rodents of mouse or rat size inhabiting the Great Palearctic Desert and arid plains of Asia and northern Africa.  It is one of the most adaptable rodent species found in Kuwait’s deserts. The records show that it inhabits a variety of habitats with various degrees of vegetation cover throughout the country. It was noticed in recent years that lesser jerboa’s numbers are declining in line with habitat degradation in Kuwait (See Plate 10, appendix).

  • Naked-bellied tomb bat
  • Long-eared hedgehog

The Long-eared hedgehog (Hemeichinus auritus), is widely distributed in different habitats worldwide. This animal is omnivorous, which means it feeds on any available food resources, such as, insects, lizards, small birds, mice, snakes, and plant materials. Its small size (weigh less than 500 gm) makes it vulnerable to habitat damage and human disturbance (See Plate 11, appendix).

  • Wild cat
  • House or Black rat
  • Kuhl’s pipistrelle bat
Reptiles and Amphibians

There are over 40 species of reptiles and amphibians recorded in the dry areas of Kuwait. There are no specific studies that show the current status of different reptiles, but as with the other faunal species, their distribution is minimized and restricted to remote areas with minimum human interference.

Selected species of reptiles and amphibians from Kuwait:

  • Spiny-tailed lizard (Dhub)

Spiny-tailed lizard (Uromastix microlepis) is very common in Arabian deserts and Kuwait. This species is one of the largest species of the genus with a total length of up to 76 cm. The spiny-tailed lizard is easily recognized by the relatively short and heavily spined tail that gives the species its common name (See Plate 12, appendix).

  • Jayakar’s sand boa
  • Green toad
  • Loggerhead turtle
  • Green turtle
  • Arabian rear-fanged snake
  • Hissing sand snake
  • Rat snake
  • Leaf-nosed snake
  • Black desert corbra
  • Arabian cobra
  • Pallid agama
  • Blue-throated agama

Blue-throated agama (Trapelus ruderatus) is a ground-dwelling species, associated with low shrubs on the fringe of sandy dunes in arid areas and in sandy desert areas. It can be found perching on bushes. It is not found in modified areas with introduced non-native plant species. In Kuwait, it is only found in protected areas where shrubs are available (See Plate 13, appendix).

  • Sand gecko
  • Stone gecko
  • Rock gecko
  • Fringe-toed sand lizard
  • Lacertid lizard
  • Short-nosed lizard
  • Slender sand skink
  • Sand skink
  • Desert Monitor (Wurral)
  • Horned viper

The Arabian horned viper (Cerastes gasperettii) is found in loose sand dunes and gravel wadis close to the sand. It has also been recorded from dry salt marshes. In Arabia, it is found on a sand substrate over rock, or hard earth. Both hornless and horn-bearing specimens are known in this species (See Plate 14, appendix).

Appendix (Wildlife photos)