The Italian fauna is rich and varied, although the climatic vicissitudes, the deforestation of large areas, the spread of crops and hunting have made the distribution area of several species disappear or have reduced. Quaternary man knew the mammoth, the aurochs, the elk, the bison, the hippopotamus, the cave bear, the cave hyena, the gulo. The plains were beaten by elephants, oxen and wild horses. Sardinia also had two species of monkeys and potamochers; and a gnawing, the Prolagus corsicanus , seems to have lived on the island of Tavolara up to two centuries ago.
Currently, large mammals are not numerous and are rather closely localized. The ibex ( Capra ibex ), in prehistoric times spread all over the Alps and extended to the snow chains of central Europe, would have disappeared, if starting from 1816, laws had not been enacted to safeguard the individuals who survived in the massifs. mountainous areas of Gran Paradiso and Grivola. Today the Gran Paradiso National Park is home to around 3000 ibex.
Another beautiful alpine species is the chamois ( Rupicapra rupicapra ): it is still found in fairly large numbers throughout the Alps; but only in the Gran Paradiso National Park, strictly protected from hunting, does it thrive undisturbed. The chamois still extended over the Apennines, but now in the peninsula it is reduced to Abruzzo and precisely to the mountain group that extends between Opi, Civitella-Alfedena (Sulmona) and Settefrati (Caserta). Much more widespread is the roe deer ( Capreolus capreolus ), which, in addition to being quite abundant in Valtellina and in the Venetian Alps, lives, albeit scarce, the whole Tyrrhenian side from Tuscany to Sila, as well as the Gargano. As for the red deer ( Cervus elaphus) it is rare in the eastern Alps; Thanks to the protection, it remains indigenous in the Mesola wood near the mouth of the Po. Sardinian deer ( Cervus corsicanus ) are relatively abundant on the island. Exclusive to Sardinia are the fallow deer ( Dama dama ), which has now disappeared from the continent, and the characteristic mouflon ( ovis musimon ).
The most abundant of the large mammals living in the wild is the wild boar ( Sus scrofa ): exceptional towards the western borders of Piedmont and Liguria, it is found, often numerous, along the entire Tyrrhenian side from the Arno to Calabria and there is no shortage of in the Gargano and in Puglia; it is frequent in Sardinia, where it has a particular physiognomy.
According to GLOBALSCIENCELLC.COM, the bear is kept in the woods around the Brenta Group, in Val di Tovel and in Val di Genova (Bear of the Alps) and in the upper Sangro valley. The lynx ( Lynx lynx ), reduced to some localities in Piedmont, has become extremely rare. Wolves, at other times very widespread, remain in the central and southern Apennines and in Sicily; foxes are found everywhere and in the Alps they reach 2500 m. Scattered throughout the peninsula, but not very abundant especially in the southern provinces, is the badger, a lover of mountainous locations. As for wild cats ( Felis silvestris ), which must be well distinguished from those that have grown wild, they are rare everywhere except in the Maremma, the Gargano and Calabria; Sardinia also has some, but different from those of the continent (Felis ocreata ). Frankly alpine is the ermine ( Putorius ermineus ); the weasel ( Putorius nivalis ) is also found in the islands, where it is represented by particular forms; widespread on the continent is the polecat ( P. putorius ) ; the marten ( Mustela martes ) also lives in the islands, where the stone marten ( M. foina ) is missing . The otter ( Lutra lutra ), absent from the islands, is rare throughout the continent.
Also common in the islands is the hedgehog ( Erinaceus europaeus ); moles are lacking as much in Sicily as in Sardinia. Small insectivores are the shrews and crocidures, quite widespread and abundant; the very small Tuscan mustiolo ( Etruscan Pachyura ) lives from Tuscany to the southern provinces, as well as in Sardinia.
Among the Rosicanti there are purely alpine species: such the white hare ( Lepus variabilis ), the marmot ( Marmota marmota ) and the small snow country ( Arvicola nivalis ), which go in the areas between 3000-4000 m. of altitude. The porcupine ( Hystrix cristata ), on the contrary, is a southern species not uncommon in Sicily, rather rare on the continent, where it reaches as far as Tuscany. The common hare ( Lepus timidus ) is found throughout Italy and Sicily; Sardinia owns the L. mediterraneus , smaller; the wild rabbit ( Oryctolagus cuniculus) mainly inhabits the Val d’Aosta, the Tuscan archipelago, Sicily and Sardinia. The squirrel ( Sciurus vulgaris ) and the dormouse ( Myoxus glis ) constitute an arboreal population common to our woods: the second is also found in the two major islands. Also very common are the oak mouse ( Eliomys quercinus ) and the dormouse ( Muscardinus avellanarius ). Various species of mice and voles cause considerable damage in the inhabited areas and especially in the countryside.
Numerous species represent the group of Bats, among which the Vesperugo maurus is typically alpine.
A species of seal ( Pelagius monachus ) frequents our lonely and rocky beaches.
Birdlife is rich, varied and multiform: apart from those that occur exceptionally, Italy has about 400 different species of birds, but only a little more than a third are stationary. As exclusive to Italy we can consider the common sparrow ( Passer Italiae ) typical of the continent.