Animals you find on the Small Dolomites
In the Small Dolomites a great variety of animal species have adapted to live at different altitudes. The highest altitudes are characterized by walls and slopes of dolomite and their debris. This is where the chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra) thrives. The chamois is a very wary and shy animal, so it can be easily spotted from afar, but it is very difficult to see up close. The average adult weighs between 20 and 45 kilograms and is between 70 and 85 cm tall. The color of its fur changes according to season: in summer it is brown (red-brown), with a black stripe on its back; in winter it is dark brown on the back, while the cheeks and belly are white. The chamois is very agile and can easily and quickly climb big slopes and rock faces that are seemingly inaccessible.
In the mountains meadows and pastures the marmot (Marmota marmota) can be easily spotted. The marmot spends the night and the hottest hours of the day inside its den, which is usually underground. Marmots have two different kinds of dens: one for the summer and one for the winter. The summer dens have numerous entrances that are generally located on a lawn behind a rock or bush. These branch into an intricate system of tunnels at a depth of 30 to 90 centimeters, some of which function as latrines, others are dead ends and others lead to the actual den, where the animals usually rest. The winter dens, on the other hand, have only one entrance, with a corridor of 6 to 10 meters that leads straight to the room where the animals hibernate. The hibernation (October to April) is regulated by external factors such as temperature and light, as well as internal factors such as hormones.
The animal to be on the lookout for when hiking on the Small Dolomites is the viper (Vipera aspis), because it is dangerous. Vipers prefer to live in sunny areas rich in vegetation, such as woodlands, shrublands, or rocky areas. In summer, during the hottest hours, vipers hide in the vegetation where it is cooler, but they are more active in the morning and evening. In Spring and Fall, with cooler temperatures, vipers tend to spend a lot of time in the sun. This is when it is more likely to see them.
With a pair of binoculars bird lovers will have a chance to spot the Alpine Swift (Tachymarptis melba) in the summer, or the buzzard (Buteo buteo).