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Arctic fox
The Icelandic Arctic fox is its own species after years of isolation

Are there any dangerous animals in Iceland? Not really, the island is thankfully free of large predators. The only native mammal in Iceland is the Arctic fox, which due to its isolation in Iceland for 10000 years is now its own species called Alopex lagopus fuliginosus. They are not likely to go near you in most places, but there are a few in the West Fjords that have learnt to trust humans. In most cases, you are not in any real danger of meeting dangerous animals but we have put together a list of animals you might want to look out for though.

Polar bears

Polar bears are not native to Iceland, despite what the souvenir shops might want you to believe. They do sometimes swim or float on icebergs to the country, but they are usually shot within a few hours – so it is not a hospitable place for them.


Before 1970 there were almost no wasps in Iceland. The reason? It was simply too cold. Since then four species of wasp have been found in Iceland, but it seems that one of them has died out, to the joy of all kinds of wasp-haters.


There are no snakes in Iceland unless you count earthworms as tiny snakes.

Arctic terns

Arctic tern
An Arctic tern possibly protecting its nest.

These beautiful migratory birds nest all around Iceland, and it is best to keep well away from their nesting sites since they are fiercely protective and will not hesitate to try and peck your head and face with their sharp beak.


For the longest time dogs were mostly banned in Reykjavík. You could own sheepdogs and that was about it. At some point, the rules were changed, and now you can get special permission to own a dog from the city. However, four species of dogs are completely banned in Iceland: Pit Bull Terrier/Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Fila Brasileiro. Toso Inu and Dogo Argentino.


This is how a mink looks like.

Minks were imported to Iceland in the early 20th century for fur farming but, as is wont to do, quite a few managed to escape, and they have lived a reasonably happy life here. They are not popular with many Icelanders though, and everyone is allowed to kill them with impunity. Animal welfare laws dictate, though, that it must be done humanely.

Unless you stumble upon a wasps nest, a polar bear or possibly an Arctic tern colony, you should not have any trouble in Icelandic nature.

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