Endemic Animals of Japan








Iriomote Cat
Iriomote Cat
The Iriomote cat lives only on the island of Iriomote, off Japan. A subspecies of the leopard cat, it is viewed by many biologists as a "living fossil," being not much changed from its primitive form. First described by Dr. Imaizumi of Tokyo’s National Science Museum in 1967, this wild cat is about the size of a domestic cat, and has the characteristic elongated body, low-slung build and short legs of a predator that forages in thick u ...
ndergrowth. These animals in the wild live for 7-8 years, and 8-9 in captivity, with the longest lifespan known in captivity to be 15 years.
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Iriomote Cat
Japanese Serow
Japanese Serow
Japanese serows are small goat-antelopes native to Japan. Their fur is whitish around the neck and on the body may be black, black with a dorsal white spot, dark brown, or whitish; the coat lightens in summer. The fur is very bushy, especially the tail. Both sexes have short, backward-curving horns and are difficult to distinguish by sight.
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Japanese Serow
Japanese Weasel
Japanese Weasel
Japanese weasels are small carnivorous mammals native to Japan. Their fur is orange-brown with darker markings on the head. The fur on the throat is usually white in color. Females in this species are smaller than males.
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Japanese Weasel
Japanese Badger
Japanese Badger
The Japanese badger is a member of the genus Meles that contains two more living species, the Asian badger, and the European badger. The Japanese badger is smaller than the other two species and it has a much browner coat; its facial markings are also less distinct. The upper coat has long gray-brown hair and ventral hair is short and black. The face has characteristic black-white stripes and the dark color is concentrated around the eyes. The ...
front feet are equipped with powerful digging claws.
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Japanese Badger
Habu
Habu
The Habu is a species of venomous pit viper native to Japan. It is slenderly built and gracefully proportioned with a large head. The crown of the head is covered with small scales. The Habu has a light olive or brown ground color, overlaid with elongated dark green or brownish blotches. The blotches have yellow edges, sometimes contain yellow spots, and frequently fuse to produce wavy stripes. The belly is whitish with dark coloring along the ...
edges.
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Habu
Japanese raccoon dog
Japanese raccoon dog
The Japanese raccoon dog, also known as the tanuki, is a species of canid endemic to Japan. It is one of two species in the genus Nyctereutes, alongside the common raccoon dog, which it was formerly thought to be a subspecies of. As the tanuki, the animal has been significant in Japanese folklore since ancient times. The legendary tanuki is reputed to be mischievous and jolly, a master of disguise and shapeshifting, but somewhat gullible and ...
absentminded. It is also a common theme in Japanese art, especially statuary.
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Japanese raccoon dog
Japanese giant salamander
Japanese giant salamander
The Japanese giant salamander is a species of salamander in the family Cryptobranchidae. The species is endemic to Japan, where it is known as Ōsanshōuo, literally meaning "giant salamander". With a length of up to 5 feet, it is the third-largest salamander in the world, only being surpassed by the very similar and closely related Chinese giant salamander and South China giant salamander . There are currently only five known members of the f ...
amily Cryptobranchidae: the Japanese, Chinese, and South China giant salamanders, an undescribed Andrias species from eastern China, and the hellbender . Japanese giant salamanders are widespread across rivers in southwestern Japan. When they coexist in a stream, the species frequently hybridizes with Chinese giant salamanders, which were introduced to the area. The Japanese giant salamander was first catalogued by Europeans when the resident physician of Dejima Island in Nagasaki, Philipp Franz von Siebold, captured an individual and shipped it back to Leiden in the Netherlands, in the 1820s. The species was designated as a special natural monument in 1951, and is federally protected.
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Japanese giant salamander
Green pheasant
Green pheasant
The green pheasant, also known as the Japanese green pheasant, is an omnivorous bird native to the Japanese archipelago, to which it is endemic. Some taxonomic authorities consider it a subspecies of the common pheasant, Phasianus colchicus. It is the national bird of Japan.
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Green pheasant
Japanese black bear
Japanese black bear
The Japanese black bear is a subspecies of the Asian black bear that lives on three main islands of Japan: Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu. There are said to be 10,000 black bears in Japan. The population of black bears on Shikoku and Kyushu may be endangered or extinct. There is a high price on bear parts in the black market, which threatens all bear populations in Japan. This particular species of bear are typically smaller with males only reaching ...
60–120 kilograms and females only weighing about 40–100 kilograms . Their body length is about 120–140 centimetres long.
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Japanese black bear
Amami rabbit
Amami rabbit
The Amami rabbit, or Amami no-kuro-usagi, also known as the Ryukyu rabbit is a dark-furred rabbit which is only found in Amami Ōshima and Toku-no-Shima, two small islands between southern Kyūshū and Okinawa in Kagoshima Prefecture in Japan. Often called a living fossil, the Amami rabbit is a living remnant of ancient rabbits that once lived on the Asian mainland, where they died out, remaining only on the two small Japanese islands where they li ...
ve today.
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Amami rabbit
Japanese river otter
Japanese river otter
The Japanese otter or Japanese river otter is an extinct species of otter formerly widespread in Japan.
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Japanese river otter
Japanese boar
Japanese boar
The Japanese boar, also known as the white-moustached pig, inoshishi, or yama kujira, is a subspecies of wild boar native to all of Japan, save for Hokkaido and the Ryukyu Islands.
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Japanese boar
Japanese tit
Japanese tit
The Japanese tit, also known as the Oriental tit, is a passerine bird which replaces the similar great tit in Japan and the Russian Far East beyond the Amur River, including the Kuril Islands. Until recently, this species was classified as a subspecies of great tit, but studies indicated that the two species coexist in the Russian Far East without intermingling or frequent hybridization.
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Japanese tit
Large Japanese field mouse
Large Japanese field mouse
The large Japanese field mouse is a nocturnal species of rodent in the family Muridae. It is endemic to Japan.
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Large Japanese field mouse
Japanese fire belly newt
Japanese fire belly newt
The Japanese fire belly newt is a species of newt in the family Salamandridae endemic to Japan. It is commonly confused with the Chinese fire belly newt due to similarities in coloring and size, and most newts sold as Japanese fire belly newts are likely to be the more commonly collected Chinese fire belly newt instead. It is extremely toxic - fatal within 6 hours - to humans and other animals.
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Japanese fire belly newt
Okinawa rail
Okinawa rail
The Okinawa rail is a species of bird in the rail family, Rallidae. It is endemic to Okinawa Island in Japan where it is known as the Yanbaru kuina . Its existence was only confirmed in 1978 and it was formally described in 1981 although unidentified rails had been recorded on the island since at least 1973 and local stories of a bird known as the agachi kumira may refer to this species. It is a medium-sized and almost flightless rail with short ...
wings and tail, olive-brown upperparts, black underparts with white bars and a red bill and legs. It occurs in subtropical moist forests and in neighboring habitats. It nests and feeds on the ground but usually roosts in trees. It is classified as an endangered species and is threatened by habitat loss and introduced predators.
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Okinawa rail
Japanese pond turtle
Japanese pond turtle
The Japanese pond turtle is a species of turtle in the family Geoemydidae endemic to Japan. Its Japanese name is nihon ishigame, Japanese stone turtle. Its population has decreased somewhat due to habitat loss, but it is not yet considered a threatened species.
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Japanese pond turtle
Copper pheasant
Copper pheasant
The copper pheasant or Soemmerring's pheasant is endemic to Japan. The scientific name commemorates the German scientist Samuel Thomas von Sömmerring.
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Copper pheasant
Mizuhopecten yessoensis
Mizuhopecten yessoensis
Mizuhopecten yessoensis is a species of scallop. Its name Yesso/Ezo refers to its being found north of Japan. They are marine bivalve mollusks in the family Pectinidae, the scallops. Its tissues are bioaccumulate algal yessotoxins and are studied extensively.
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Mizuhopecten yessoensis
Ovophis okinavensis
Ovophis okinavensis
Common names: Hime habu, Okinawa pitviper, Ovophis okinavensis is a venomous pitviper species found in the Ryukyu Islands of Japan. No subspecies are currently recognized.
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Ovophis okinavensis
Okinawa woodpecker
Okinawa woodpecker
The Okinawa woodpecker, is a woodpecker endemic to the Okinawa Prefecture of Japan. It was previously placed in the monotypic genus Sapheopipo. Other common names for this species are Noguchi's woodpecker, Okinawan woodpecker, Pryer's woodpecker and Ryukyu woodpecker. Some taxonomic authorities place this species in the monotypic genus Sapheopipo.
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Okinawa woodpecker
Japanese dormouse
Japanese dormouse
The Japanese dormouse is a species of rodent in the family Gliridae endemic to Japan. It is the only extant species within the genus Glirulus. Its natural habitat is temperate forests. In Japanese, it is called yamane . Among dormice, it has the special ability of running at great speed upside down, suspended from branches. Its main food is insects, berries, nectar, or pollen. It tends to inhabit arboreal nesting sites to avoid interspecific ...
competition with the small Japanese field mouse because of their sympatric relationship.
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Japanese dormouse
Protobothrops elegans
Protobothrops elegans
Protobothrops elegans is a venomous pitviper species endemic to Japan in the southern Ryukyu Islands. No subspecies are currently recognized. Common names include: elegant pitviper, Sakishima habu, and elegant tree viper.
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Protobothrops elegans
Ryukyu robin
Ryukyu robin
The Ryukyu robin is a bird endemic to the Ryūkyū Islands, of Japan. The Okinawa robin previously was considered a subspecies.
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Ryukyu robin
Izu thrush
Izu thrush
The Izu thrush or Izu Islands thrush is a bird of the thrush family native to Japan.
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Izu thrush
Owston's tit
Owston's tit
Owston's tit is a small passerine bird in the tit family Paridae that is endemic to the southern Izu Islands south of Japan.
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Owston's tit
Iriomote tit
Iriomote tit
The Iriomote tit is a small passerine bird in the tit family Paridae. It is endemic to the Yaeyama Islands which lie to the south west of Japan and to the east of Taiwan. Iriomote is the name of the largest island in the group.
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Iriomote tit
Iwo Jima rail
Iwo Jima rail
The Iwo Jima rail or white-browed crake was a rail native to the island of Iwo Jima. The last reported sightings were in 1924, and the species is believed to be extinct. It was a subspecies of the white-browed crake.
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Iwo Jima rail
Daito wren
Daito wren
The Daito wren is a controversial subspecies of the Eurasian wren. It is known only by the type specimen, a male collected in 1938 on Minami Daitō-jima, the main island of the Daito Archipelago east of Okinawa. Yamashina described the bird as a new subspecies after comparing it with 114 specimens from surrounding areas and under the impression that the Eurasian wren is a fairly sedentary bird, not liable to be drifted astray over long distances. ...
Its scientific name honors Yamashina's specimen collector, Hyojiri Orii.
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Daito wren
Lidth's jay
Lidth's jay
Lidth's jay or the Amami jay, is a passerine bird in the family Corvidae, native to Japan.
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Lidth's jay
Amami woodcock
Amami woodcock
The Amami woodcock is a medium-sized wader. It is slightly larger and longer-legged than Eurasian woodcock, and may be conspecific. This species is a restricted-range endemic found only in forests on two small islands of the Amami Islands chain in South Japan. Insofar as its habits are known, they are similar to Eurasian woodcock.
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Amami woodcock
Bonin white-eye
Bonin white-eye
The Bonin white-eye or meguro is a small songbird endemic to the Bonin Islands of Japan. It is the only species in the genus Apalopteron. Its taxonomic affinities were a long-standing mystery and it has been placed with the bulbuls, babblers and more recently with the honeyeaters, during which it was known as the Bonin honeyeater. Since 1995 it is known to be a white-eye in the family Zosteropidae, that is closely related to the golden white-eye ...
of the Marianas Islands. The Bonin white-eye has predominately yellow and green plumage and a conspicuous black triangular patch around the eye – the eye is also surrounded by a broken white ring. It was once found on all the major islands of the Bonin Islands but is now restricted to the islands of Hahajima. On that island group it is found in almost all the habitat types, native and human-modified, although it mostly breeds in native forest. Fruit is an important part of the diet, especially mulberries, as well as insects, but flowers, seeds, spiders and reptiles are taken as well. It feeds both in trees and on the ground, as it is more terrestrial that other white-eyes. Pairs of Bonin white-eyes form long-term pair bonds and remain together throughout the year. They nest in a cup-shaped nest into which usually two eggs are laid. Both parents are responsible for incubation and raising the chicks. The arrival of humans in the Bonin Islands resulted in the extinction of many of the native birds of the islands. The Bonin white-eye was affected by the changes that caused those extinctions, and has lost one subspecies and is no longer found on many of the islands groups of the Bonin Islands. The species is an important part of the ecology of the Bonin Islands, an important seed disperser for the native plants. It has proven to be somewhat resilient to competition from introduced warbling white-eyes, predation by introduced rats and cats, and habitat loss. The Bonin white-eye is evaluated as being "near threatened" by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
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Bonin white-eye
Bonin nankeen night heron
Bonin nankeen night heron
The Bonin nankeen night heron is an extinct subspecies of the nankeen night heron.
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Bonin nankeen night heron
Japanese green woodpecker
Japanese green woodpecker
Japanese green woodpecker or Japanese woodpecker is a medium-sized woodpecker similar and closely related to the European green woodpecker, but endemic to Japan.
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Japanese green woodpecker
Ryukyu kingfisher
Ryukyu kingfisher
The Ryukyu kingfisher is an enigmatic taxon of tree kingfisher. It is extinct and was only ever known from a single specimen. Its taxonomic status is doubtful; it is most likely a subspecies of the Guam kingfisher, which would make its scientific name Todiramphus cinnamomina miyakoensis. As the specimen is extant at the Yamashina Institute for Ornithology, the question could be resolved using DNA sequence analysis; at any rate, the Guam ...
kingfisher is almost certainly the closest relative of the Ryukyu bird. The IUCN considers this bird a subspecies and has hence struck it from its redlist.
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Ryukyu kingfisher
Amami thrush
Amami thrush
The Amami thrush is a member of the thrush family Turdidae. It is endemic to the islands of Amami Ōshima and Kakeroma island in the northern Nansei Islands of Japan.
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Amami thrush
Mukojima white-eye
Mukojima white-eye
The Mukojima white-eye, incorrectly known as the Mukojima honeyeater, is the extinct nominate subspecies of the Bonin white-eye . It occurred on Muko-jima and Nakodo-jima in the northern group of the Ogasawara Islands. The last record were specimens taken in January 1930 on Muko-jima; by then, the bird was already gone from Nakodo-jima. In 1941, the subspecies was found to have gone extinct in the meantime.
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Mukojima white-eye
Bannerman's shearwater
Bannerman's shearwater
Bannerman's shearwater is a seabird in the family Procellariidae formerly considered conspecific with Audubon's shearwater .
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Bannerman's shearwater
Anderson's crocodile newt
Anderson's crocodile newt
Anderson's crocodile newt, Anderson's newt, Ryukyu spiny newt, or Japanese warty newt is a species of salamander in the family Salamandridae found in the Ryukyu Islands of Japan, and, at least formerly, Mount Guanyin in northern Taiwan, where it is now believed to be extinct.
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Anderson's crocodile newt
Hida salamander
Hida salamander
The Hida salamander or Hondo salamander is a species of salamander in the family Hynobiidae, the Asiatic salamanders. It is endemic to central and western Honshu, Japan. It lives in deciduous, coniferous, and mixed forests, where it breeds in streams. These salamanders typically spawn from February to April, leading some to metamorphose in late September while others wait for the following year to do so after winter is over.
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Hida salamander
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