There are a whole host of wildlife, plantlife and birdlife living in Devon, which is no surprise considering the two National Parks, two coastlines and abundance of rural and coastal spaces. Here are some of Devon’s famous wild residents that you might come across during your visit.

Dartmoor ponies

ponies on dartmoor

Perhaps Devon’s most well known wildlife are the Dartmoor ponies. The purebred ones, also known as Heritage Ponies, are single coloured with long flowing manes and tails. There are a couple of different types of ponies on the moor now. All of them are now bred on the moor and although they can be seen ambling about, they are wild – so do not approach them if you see them.

Dartmoor ponies are hardy and have coats that make them easily adapted to living on the harsh wildlife of the moor. In fact, there have been records of them living there since 1012!

Exmoor Ponies

You can’t mention the Dartmoor Ponies without talking about their friends on Exmoor. Much like the ponies on Dartmoor, Exmoor Ponies are one of Britain’s native breeds and, again, like those on Dartmoor, there are a number of managed herds that live across the moor and run wild. The colourings of an Exmoor Pony differ from the Dartmoor ones as they range from dun to bay or dark brown, with lighter colours on their eyes and nose and a dark brown or black tail. They are an ancient breed having been reported to live on the moor since humans began inhabiting it, they even appear in the Doomesday book, however, in recent years they have become an endangered species.

Exmoor’s Red Deer

It isn’t just the ponies that are iconic, Red Deer have also lived on Exmoor since prehistoric times. There are about three thousand of them living on the moor these days and are one of the largest wild animals that can be found in England. They’re easily recognisable because of their size and colour – you’ll spot them at the Holnicote Estate where there is a herd of around 300. If you want to catch sight of a couple, be sure to hang around Webbers Post and Cloutsham Fields, just remember to keep a safe distance and try not to disturb them. Always stay on the paths and don’t approach the deer if you see them.



Devon has a couple of different otter colonies – which you might expect from the county that brought you Tarka the Otter. The novel written by Henry Williamson is based in north Devon and the Tarka Trail follows the same route of Tarka’s journey. There are a couple of otter families that can be spotted around the biosphere, Braunton and Okehampton. You can also spot otters at Cricklepit Mill, in the south of Devon, there are also otters at various animal attractions in Devon in case you don’t manage to spot one in the wild. If you happen to be in Devon though over the late May Bank Holiday, keep your eyes peeled as it is World Otter Day on 30th May.


Otters aren’t the only creature that live in Devon’s waters, so do Beavers. England’s first wild breeding population of beavers were reintroduced to Devon’s River Otter a couple of years ago and have been thriving ever since.

Since the beavers have been back in the region, they have helped with flood reduction and improved water quality and have supported other creatures, including voles, fish, birds and insects which would have otherwise been endangered.

Wild Boar

Wild Boar sightings are becoming much more frequent in North Devon – back in 2005, around 100 wild boars were released near South Molton in the north of the county. While they have a reputation for being quite scary, wild boar are actually shy and tend to hide away, so you might not be able to spot them, but if you want to have a go, make sure to head to Exmoor.


One of the most common marine animals that can be seen in Devon is the seal – they tend to hang around places in the English Riviera and South Devon, there’s even one that likes to frequent the River Dart! You can also see them in and around Lundy Island in North Devon.


puffinsLundy Island (which actually means Puffin Island!) is home to Devon’s Puffin population as well as a host of other bird life and marine animals. For most of the year, puffins live out at sea, but they return to land during breeding season, so if you want to catch sight of one, make sure to visit Lundy Island between the months of March and August. If you happen to be on or approaching the island, you might be lucky enough to spot a puffling (a baby puffin) or two if you’re quiet.

Have you ever seen any of these wild residents of Devon? If you are out in the wilderness, make sure to leave the area exactly as you found it and to take any litter etc with you when you leave. Also remember to be quiet and respectful of the animals around you and don’t feed or approach them. If you manage to get a photo of Devon’s wildlife, be sure to tag us on Instagram.