Number of Native Species in Canada

Canada has seven thousand species of native plants and vertebrate animals. Over half of these are flowering plants, which number four thousand species.

Among vertebrate animals, fish form the most diverse group in the country, accounting for about half of Canada's animal species. Birds make up another large species group.

The country has nearly two hundred different species of mammals. But only a small number of reptile and amphibian species can survive in Canada's cold climate.

Indeed, for all types of animals and plants, just a small proportion of the world's species live in Canada. Despite its massive size and varied geography, Canada has far fewer species than many other nations. The low diversity of species is due to the country's harsh climate and its history of heavy glaciation during ice ages.

Number of species of native plants and vertebrate animals in Canada.
Category Species Totals
Vertebrate Animals
Mammals 197
Birds 456
Reptiles 42
Amphibians 47
Fishes 707
Total Vertebrate Animals 1,449
Flowering plants (angiosperms) 4,068
Conifers (gymnosperms) 40
Ferns 212
Mosses 976
Liverworts 287
Total Plants 5,583

These numbers of plants and animals native to Canada include recently extinct species and wild species that now only survive in captivity. The number of fish species includes all freshwater, but not all marine species.

Not in the totals are exotic or invasive species of plants and animals introduced to Canada from other countries. Non-native livestock and cultivated plants are also not part of the species totals.

How Many Animal Species Live in Canada

Taking a more detailed look at the groups of Canada's animals shows that rodents make up the country's largest category, accounting for one-third of mammal species. Another one-fifth of mammal species live in the oceans.

Among reptiles, snakes are most numerous. Amphibians include almost as many species of salamanders as frogs and toads.

Number of Canadian animal species.
Category Species
Carnivores 27
Hoofed Mammals 11
Bats 19
Rabbits, Hares, Pikas 7
Rodents 66
Shrews, Moles 26
Opossum 1
Whales, Porpoises, Dolphins 28
Seals, Sealions, Walrus 12
Lizards 6
Snakes 26
Turtles 10
Frogs, Toads 26
Salamanders 21

Animal Categories Explained

  • Carnivores, animals that eat meat, range from wolves to weasels. The group contains bears, wildcats, foxes, marten, otters, skunks, raccoon and wolverine.
  • Hoofed mammals include caribou, elk, deer, moose, pronghorn, sheep, mountain goat, muskox and bison.
  • Rodents include rats and mice, plus voles, lemmings, squirrels, chipmunks, gophers, marmots, porcupine and beaver.

NatureServe. 2009. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life. Version 7.1.

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