Located in northwestern Europe, the Netherlands’ total land area is 33,500 km2 (12,900 sq mi).
Although a relatively small country, the Netherlands features a vast landscape, including grassy dunes, coastal lowlands, beaches, etc.
The nation is an artificially created land, and half lies at or below sea level.
Officially divided into two portions, the west and north contain low and flat lands, while the east and south include hills.
Despite its relatively small size, the Netherlands is home to many species, big and small.
These animals are either native to the country or were introduced decades ago.
An additional category of animals in the Netherlands is animals that face endangerment threats from natural sources or human activities.
This article will cover some of the endangered species in the Netherlands and the threats they face.
Here are some of the animals that face endangerment in the Netherlands:
5. European Eel
The European eel (Anguilla anguilla) is a species of eel found in several parts of Europe, including the Netherlands.
Despite the eel’s abundance in some parts of Europe, its population in the Netherlands has declined and is now critically endangered.
However, several conservation methods are underway to protect this population and keep them from going extinct.
Like other eels, European eels have an elongated body with gill openings on both sides.
However, as they get older, they grow longer and slimmer.
The fish are called “glass eels” as they grow larger and translucent.
After this stage, they grow out of their “translucent” phase and get a yellowish-brown color.
At this point, they leave their birthplace and do not return until they have a metallic sheen and large eyes and then spawn and die.
One of the primary threats the European eel faces in the Netherlands is overfishing, as it is a part of traditional dishes that date centuries back.
Another threat this species faces is habitat loss caused by the construction of dams and other water management infrastructure, which disrupt their natural migration path.
Efforts are being made to reverse the decline of the European eel in the Netherlands.
One of the main strategies being employed is the implementation of fishing quotas.
Other strategies include education of the public and restoration of degraded habitats.
4. Common Hamster
The common hamster, also known as the European hamster, is a small, burrowing rodent native to Europe, including the Netherlands.
Historically, many treated the species as pests and used them for their fur.
At the time, the number of these hamsters in the wild was too numerous to count, but their population has steadily declined.
Also called the black-bellied hamster, black fur covers the common hamster’s stomach and part of its chest region.
This hamster has a brown coat with white patches on other parts of its body.
Like other hamsters, the common hamster has short limbs and is so small that it weighs between 7.8–16.2 ounces.
The common hamster is nocturnal and eats root vegetables, seeds, legumes, etc.
One of the primary causes of the decline of the common hamster in the Netherlands is habitat loss.
Its preferred habitats face threats from development, urbanization, and changes in agricultural practices.
This species’ preferred habitats include meadows and grasslands, but urbanization and agriculture have caused these habitats to deplete.
Other threats to this hamster population in the Netherlands include predation, reduced genetic diversity, loss of food plants, etc.
3. European Mink
The European mink, Mustela lutreola, is a tiny, semi-aquatic mammal once widely distributed across Europe.
However, this species now appear on the IUCN list of critically endangered animals, with only an undersized population in the wild, some of which inhabit the Netherlands.
Their population has declined across Europe for over a century, and they are extinct in some countries.
Like other members of the Mustela genus, the European mink has an elongated body and short limbs.
This mink species resembles ferrets because of their stocky build and short ears.
Males measure 14.7–16.9 inches in body length, while females measure 13.9–15.7 inches.
Despite being thick, the European mink’s fur is short, and the feel and color of its fur vary with the seasons.
The destruction and loss of habitat are the primary contributors to decreasing the European mink population in the Netherlands.
Their preferred habitats are degraded and lost due to human activities, including land use change, water pollution, dam building, and other water management infrastructure.
Another factor causing the decline of the European mink population in the Netherlands is competition and predation by non-native American mink.
Apart from competing for resources, the American mink carries a deadly virus affecting the European mink.
2. North Atlantic Right Whale
The North Atlantic right whale, Eubalaena glacialis, is a large marine mammal facing extinction.
As the name implies, the North Atlantic right whale inhabits parts of the North Atlantic.
The species was once found in abundance in the waters off the coast of the Netherlands, but their population has declined rapidly over the last century.
Also called the “black right whale,” the North Atlantic right whale is a baleen whale that weighs as much as 150,000 pounds and reaches over 50 feet.
Unlike other whales, this species does not have a dorsal fin on its back, and the easiest way to recognize it is by its black body and v-shaped snout.
The North Atlantic right whale’s head also has callosities– knobby and white patches of rough skin that are used to identify specific whales.
Although commercial whaling has been prohibited worldwide since 1986, the long history of hunting has left a permanent mark on the North Atlantic right whale population.
The Netherlands’ declining population of North Atlantic right whales is also a result of climate change.
The warming of the oceans is affecting the distribution of the species’ primary food source, zooplankton.
This, in turn, is causing changes in North Atlantic right whales’ feeding and breeding behaviors and is reducing their ability to reproduce successfully.
1. Spotted Eagle
Otherwise called the “greater” spotted eagle or Clanga clanga, the spotted eagle is a large bird of prey found in Europe, Asia, and some parts of Africa.
This eagle is migratory, and its location depends on whether it is breeding season.
Through migration, spotted eagles entered the Netherlands, but the country’s population has declined over the years.
As its alternative name suggests, the spotted eagle weighs up to four pounds.
Adult spotted eagles have dark brown feathers with streaks of white.
Despite weighing more than other eagles in their family, these eagles have relatively small heads, but their wingspan can be over six feet.
One of the primary factors contributing to the decline of the spotted eagle in the Netherlands is habitat loss.
Another factor contributing to the loss of the spotted eagle in the Netherlands is direct persecution.
The species is sometimes seen as a threat to livestock, particularly poultry, and is illegally hunted and poisoned in some areas.