Wildlife

If you want to see Slovenian animal kingdom Kočevska region is definitely the right destination for you. Here you can watch some of special animal sorts. Here is home of brown bear, owl Kozača and lnyx. Also there are some of unique sorts of wild animals.

Brown bear
(Ursos Arctos)

Bear is our largest predator. Its diverse omnivorous menu depends on the season – it includes everything from plants, carcass to wild boar that bear catches easily in the time of the frozen snow. It has a very well developed smell and hearing while its sight is poor. It is active during the day and night. It can run with the speed of 50 kilometers per hour and is a good swimmer. Younger and lighter bears are also great climbers. It is a solitary animal except during mating which takes place from the middle of May to early July. Its gestation time is between 7 to 9 months. Female whelps cubs during the winter. It is a common misconception that it hibernates during the winter. In fact its physical processes slow down, bodily temperature drops for 2 degrees Celsius, heart rate and metabolism are diminished. Because bear does not eat, drink or defecate during this period, body starts to accumulate poisons, especially urine. When this happens body does not remove nitrogen by urine but rebuilds it in its proteins. Spending winter in the den is probably an adjustment to lack of food and whelping babies which are not capable of thermal regulation. Bear belongs to vulnerable species. It has been on the red list of endangered species since 1993. It does not have any natural predators and its maximal lifespan (in captivity) is up to 40 years. There is hundreds of bears in Kočevsko region.


Ural owl

Ural owl (strix uralensis) is a bird of prey which measures between 50 and 59 centimeters. Compared to tawny owl it has a much longer tail, smaller eyes and brighter yellow gray feathers. Females are much bigger than males. Its menu predominantly consists of voles, squirrels, shrews and smaller birds. It inhabits beech forests where old trees which represent her primary choice for nesting can be found in abundance. It can act protectively and dangerously if an intruder approaches her nest – in case of attack it is recommended to protect ones eyes. The main threat to this wonderful bird’s existence is cutting down old, big trees which are indispensable part of its habitat.


Wolf

The gray wolf (canis lupus) is the largest member of canine family. Its characteristics are yellow brown fur and distinctive long fangs which – beside its keen smell and hearing – come in very handy for hunting down the prey and satisfying its daily need for meat consumption which totals up to 5 kilograms. It is an opportunistic and very flexible predator but not picky at all – it predominantly hunts down game but we can also find carcass and even some plants on its menu.The wolf pack can travel up to 70 kilometers at once while in search for food. Wolves usually hunt together and mostly target animals in bad shape which eventually become too tired due to wolves’ fast running. Wolf’s lifestyle is very interesting and points at its strong family instinct. Only alpha male and female mate together and remain strongly connected throughout the process of raising up their young ones. Pack consists of between 2 to 20 members (besides alpha couple these are usually their offspring or relatives) which collaborate in hunting and guarding the territory. Luckily, wolf lived through possible extinction it faced as a species in Slovenia during late 1960’s. Current living specimens in Slovenia represent a rare autochthonous population of wolves in Europe which is of great importance for preservation of this mighty animal on our continent.


Lynx

It is classified as a predator that lies in wait. It predominantly inhabits lowland and mountain forests, especially alder-beech forests. It relies on its sight and hearing when hunting. We recognize lynx by its characteristic ears with hairy point. Its diet consists of game, deer, wild boar, chamois, rabbit, badger, wild cat and domestic animals among which we can find cats, dogs and even sheep. They mate in February and March and live a solitary life in this period of time. Its gestation period is between 70 and 74 days and it whelps from 2 to 3 cubs. Lynx’s lifespan is from 14 to 17 years. Even though it does not have any natural predators, lynx goes out of wolf’s way when it comes to territory. There is little chance to meet lynx in its natural environment as they are very rare and timid animals. Despite the efforts and new settlement, the population decreased due to inbreeding. Lynx is on the red list of endangered species.


Chamois

On the walls and rocks above river Kolpa you may observ the troops of chamoises. It does not belong to endangered species of animals. It is a common target of hunters. They mostly eat grass and tree bark. They live up to 24 years of age.


Wild hog

This cautious and intelligent animal is classified as a mammal and is active during the night. It has very well developed sense organs – especially keen smell. It inhabits broad-leaf and mixed forests. It is omnivorous – most of its menu consists of roots, fruits and non-vertebrates dug out of the ground. It also likes carcass. Boars and younger animals make herds, which count between 10 to 30 animals in our region. Grown up, solitary living males approach them only during mating – in the time between November and January. Its gestation period is between 108 and 120 days. Female whelps 10 baby boars but only 8 can survive because mother has merely 8 teats. Its life span is between 8 and 10 years. Its greatest threat are wolves, especially in high snow. Due to frozen snow which poses a difficulty to wild boar’s movement it can also be attacked by bear. Because of increase in Slovenian and also other European populations it is not among endangered species.


Mysterious world of birds

In this region, there is more then 60 sorts of birds. 15 of this sorts are on the red list of endangered species of birds are living. Most of sorts of birds can be watched in spring, in august and september you may watch them getting ready for winter sleep. At that time all birds search for warmer place to live. Most common sorts are prosnik, kanja, mlakarica duck and other similar species.


White-tailed eagle

With its size between 69 to 91 centimeters it belongs to our largest birds of prey. Its capability of taking advantage of air flow makes it a very skillful flier. It predominantly hunts fish, but also preys on foxes, rabbits, young deer and carcass. Its nesting period takes place in the first half of the year. In March the female lays 1 to 3 eggs. Incubation time is between 36 and 42 days while taking care of offspring takes between 80 and 90 days. Chicks leave the nest in the first half of June. White-tailed eagle is very picky when it comes to choosing its nest location. It prefers areas without human presence as it is very sensitive to any type of interruptions. During the incubation period its main threat are nest predators, nature photographers and others, who interfere with their habitat. This species is very few in number. On the list of endangered species it is categorized as vulnerable. There is about 5 known couples of white-tailed eagle in Slovenia, the first noted nest was by Lake Reško which was equipped with supervision cameras and a winter feeding station supplied with carcass. The main purpose of the project was ensuring peace and limiting access to white-tailed eagle nesting and feeding habitat by Lake Reško.


Dormouse

In history, people belived that dormouse is an animal of devil itself. They live up to 5 years of age. Because of its culinary delight feature they end their life earlier. People use their fat for making cure in form of creams and similar. They are often common food for martens, owls and other predators.


Red fox

It is our most common predator that inhabits forests, fields and suburban areas. It is a night animal but can be seen in the daytime during spring and winter as well. It rests in the fox’s den which it digs out by itself. It is a good swimmer, fast runner and makes long jumps (3-4 meters). It is omnivorous – most of its diet consists of rodents but also rabbits, birds, fish, frogs, insects, carcass and fruit. It mates in the time between January and March. Its gestation period is between 52 to 53 days. It whelps 1 to 10 (usually 4 to 7) naked and blind cubs. Cubs leave the den when they are between 4 and 5 weeks old and become independent at the age of 5 months. Fox is the main carrier of rabies and can infect other mammals and humans. It has many predators such as wolves, lynxes and eagles – its lifespan is about 12 years. Horned owl and goshawk predominantly pose danger to cubs. Red fox is not among endangered species.


Buck

Buck is the largest even-toed ungulate that can measure above 2 meters and weight up to 250 kilograms. It is usually active in twilight and during the night. It has a good sight, hearing and smell. It is a great runner, jumper and swimmer. Its main predator is wolf. Males proudly display their majestic, branched horns which fall off every year and grow bigger and more branched over again. Their growth is regulated by hormone testosterone – the reason behind why females (does) do not develop horns.  They inhabit forests that spread up to treeline. Older animals and young bucks live in smaller herds while does and offspring live in bigger ones. In the daytime they slowly chew on grass, herbs, sprouts and fruits. During the winter they also chew on branches and bark which causes damage to trees. Males leave the herd in September when the time of mating begins. They display their power with mighty voice and try to win as many does as possible in mutual altercations. Does usually give birth to one calf. In the wintertime females form a herd together with calves and males make their own herds or live a life of solitude until the next mating.