Wildlife on the Tour du Mont Blanc: Mammals

Ibex. Mammals in the Alps.

A lot of hikers like to know which mammals they might see while hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc, because spotting wildlife is always an exciting moment. Whether it’s a majestic ibex on a mountain cliff, a fluffy marmot bathing in the sun or a red squirrel scurrying up a tree, a wildlife sighting always adds something magical to your hike. So, here’s a list of mammal species in our region, hopefully you’ll get to see some!   

Ungulates (hoofed animals)

The most iconic mammals are the majestic Alpine ibex and agile chamois, but there are two other ungulates you might spot on the Tour du Mont Blanc: the massive red deer, and the much smaller roe deer. 

·         Alpine ibex – Capra ibex

·         Chamois – Rupicapra rupicapra

·         Red deer – Cervus elaphus

·         Roe deer – Capreolus capreolus

Read more about ungulates here:

chamois mammal in the Alps
Note the distincitve black and white facial pattern of a Chamois. Photo by Nico Schaerer at Switzerland Tourism.


Alpine marmots and red squirrels are both members of the squirrel family, but you’ll find them in very different habitats. While marmots live in alpine meadows, red squirrels live in forests.


·         Alpine marmot – Marmota marmota

·         Red squirrel – Sciurus vulgaris

Read more about alpine marmots here: 

Marmot mammal in the Alps.
An Alpine marmot looks out for danger before leaving the safety of it’s burrow. Photo by Nico Schaerer at Switzerland Tourism


Although various shades of brown in summer, mountain hares turn white for winter, giving them a perfect camouflage in our snowy mountains and making them incredibly difficult for predators (or hikers) to spot.

·         Mountain hare – Lepus timidus

Read more about the incredible adaptions of mountain hares to life in the mountains

white mountain hare. Mammals in the Alps.
Mountan Hare in winter. Photo by Switzerland Tourism


·         Red fox – Vulpes vulpes


·         Wild boar – Sus scrofa


·         European badger – Meles meles


Members of the weasel family are quick and active predators with a long and slim body. The stoat is a particularly iconic species due its incredible change in colour over winter.


·         Stoat – Mustela erminea

·         Stone marten – Martes foina

·         European pine marten – Martes martes

·         Common weasel – Mustela nivalis

Read more about why stoats change colour in winter

Insectivorous mammals

Hedgehogs, moles and shrews are all small insectivorous mammals that can be found in this region.

Moles live in underground tunnels, so you are not very likely to see one above ground. However, molehills (where moles have pushed earth from their tunnels to the surface) are clear signs of their presence.   

Shrews are small insect eating mammals which look a bit like long-nosed mice, but they are closer related to moles and hedgehogs.

Some species: 

·         European hedgehog – Erinaceus europaeus

·         European mole – Talpa europaea

·         Mediterranean water shrew – Neomys anomalus

·         Eurasian water shrew – Neomys fodiens

·         Alpine shrew – Sorex alpinus

·         Common shrew – Sorex araneus

Read more about how shrews survive winter in tunnels underneath the snow

Small rodents

There are many small rodents around, like dormice, wood mice and voles. The cute looking dormice are mainly nocturnal and are known for their long hibernation. Voles look a bit like mice, but they are a quite different: they have short tails, small ears and small eyes.

Some species:

·         Garden dormouse – Eliomys quercinus

·         Wood mouse – Apodemus sylvaticus

·         Bank vole – Clethrionomys glareolus

·         Common vole – Microtus arvalis

·         Field vole – Microtus agrestis

·         European snow vole – Microtus nivalis

Read about how voles have an active life underneath the snow in winter and how dormice hibernate

Simone van Velzen

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