Fauna and Flora of the Ojców National Park in Poland Ojcowski

The fauna and flora of Ojców National Park in Poland is diverse and rich, with numerous common species and relics from prehistoric times. The flora, which includes deciduous forests and xerophilous species, blends with unique forest groupings. The diverse and abundant fauna includes bats, ungulates, predatory mammals, and birds of prey, among others. Amphibians, reptiles, and fish find their home in the water bodies, while a wide range of invertebrates, from bright earthworms to wolf spiders, contribute to the park’s biological richness.

Flora of Ojców

The vegetation of the Ojców National Park is mainly composed of species commonly found in Central Europe, Northern Europe, and Asia. These plants are most abundant in the Prądnik Valley and are part of the deciduous forest vegetation or integrated into typical forest habitats, such as beech, hornbeam, and pedunculate oak. Among the approximately 50 mountain species present in the park, there are firs, hollies, and millers, as well as glandular lilies, among others. Rare plants in this group include the woolly chamomile that grows in the Zachwyt Valley. In the maple forests on the slopes of Chełmowa Góra and on the rocky massif of Czyżówka, a rare fern species called common maidenhair grows.

Aciano (Centaurea mollis Waldst & Kit)

Xerophilous species are also found in the park, approximately 200, including the so-called "pontics," which mainly grow in steppe areas around the Black Sea from the north and west. Some typical representatives of steppe flora are broom grass, which grows in clusters in places like the Jonaszówka rock at the mouth of the Sąspowskie Valley and Crown Mountain opposite the Krakow Gate, and the dwarf cherry, found in Grodzisko, Ojców, and Prądnik Korzkiewski. Also notable are the talk aster, which grows in the park in a single place in the village of Grodzisko, and early thyme, whose only habitat in Poland is in Ojców National Park.

Wildflowers of Ojców National Park in Poland

From the warming period of the Holocene, known as the optimum, the wild tulip has survived to this day, for example, in the Sąspowskie Valley, and the alpine landscapes that cover the slopes of Castle Mountain.

Forest Groupings

Within the various vegetation groupings of Ojców National Park, forests (1631.61 ha) and shrubs that extend over fragments of the summits, steep slopes, and fragmented areas near streams occupy most of the territory. Among these forest groupings, the deciduous forests of various species, known as gradós, stand out. On the northern slopes, there is the Carpathian beech (a subendemic mountain community of that region), while near the rocks with southern exposure grow the orchid beech forests (known as rock beech forests). Small areas of mountain maple forests are also found on shady slopes with northern and northeastern exposure. In the valley bottoms, fragments of riparian forests, meadows that have developed as secondary communities (mainly of rustic grasses), and areas of pink buttercup can be found. The south-facing slopes are covered with flowering xerophilous grasslands and thermophilous shrubs, while the steep rocky walls are occupied by pioneer meadows with pale fescue.

The coexistence of these diverse forest communities, rocky meadows, semi-natural meadows, and xerophilous grasslands in such a small area of the park is one of the most distinctive features of its landscape. Additionally, other systematic groups in Ojców National Park also stand out for their species richness.

Fauna of Ojców

The Fauna and Flora of Ojców National Park in Poland

The varied fauna of this area has evolved as a result of long-term climatic changes during the Quaternary, especially in the Holocene. It is estimated that around 11,000 animal species currently inhabit the area of the Park and its surroundings, of which more than 8,000 have been identified to date. Vertebrates are the best-studied groups, along with invertebrates like snails, beetles, and wingless insects. The fauna of Ojców National Park, which includes many mountain and steppe species, has been of interest since the mid-19th century, with numerous studies dedicated to it.


Bats are the animal group most associated with Ojców National Park, even represented in the Park’s emblem. Of the 26 types of bats living in Poland, 21 have been recorded in the Ojców National Park area, with 19 of them hibernating.

Bats of Ojców National Park

Since 1952, there has been a dramatic decline in the bat population that lasted about 20 years, most notably in the Park among species that hibernate in caves. Since the 1990s, there has been an increase in the number of bats hibernating in the caves of Ojców National Park, especially the lesser horseshoe bat, which is the most numerous species here. In 2023, more than 1,000 bats were recorded in the inventoried caves. Most bats hibernate in the Ciemna Cave, and the greatest diversity of species has been observed in the Łokietka Cave (11 species). To date, breeding colonies of four species have been observed: the lesser horseshoe bat, the brown long-eared bat, the whiskered bat, and Brandt’s bat.

In addition to bats, common mammal species of the country are also found in Ojców National Park, which are remnants of the forest fauna that once populated Poland’s forests. Ungulates are represented by roe deer (about 150 individuals) and wild boar, whose population varies from several dozen to more than 100 individuals due to migrations. In 2008, deer arrived in the Park and established themselves. Among predatory species, the fox is the most common (about 20 individuals), followed by the badger, while rarer species include the European mink, the weasel, and the pine marten. Raccoons, a species of Asian origin, can also be found in the Park. In 2019, a camera trap recorded the presence of a wolf, probably a migratory individual. Additionally, the European hare and rodents such as the squirrel, forest mouse, common mole, as well as dormice and the fat dormouse are found here. Until the 1980s, the American mink, a species native to North America, was recorded along the Prądnik and Sąspówka rivers. In 1985, beavers from Lake Suwałki were introduced, and their descendants still live on the banks of Prądnik and Sąspówka.


To date, 162 bird species have been recorded in Ojców National Park, but only about 100 of them can be considered part of the resident population in this area, including 99 species that nest here. Most of the birds find their home in the forests.

Owls of Ojców National Park, Poland

Among the diurnal birds of prey present here are the goshawk, sparrowhawk, buzzard, honey buzzard, and occasionally the booted eagle and martial eagle, while among the nocturnal birds are the scops owl and the long-eared owl. The snowy owl, the largest of our owls, is sometimes sighted here. The name of one of the rocks in Ojców, called Rocío del Búho (Puchaczowa), suggests the previous presence of this owl in the area. Other birds that can be found here include four species of pigeons: the collared dove, the mistle thrush, the wagtail, and the warblers, as well as numerous species of songbirds, such as the blackbird, thrush, six species of tits, the chaffinch, the siskin, and the ortolan bunting.

In Ojców National Park, there are eight species of woodpeckers, among which the black woodpecker, green woodpecker, and great spotted woodpecker stand out, as well as the rare middle spotted woodpecker and lesser spotted woodpecker. During the winter, the brambling, redwing, and northern finch spend the season here. Among the rare but characteristic birds of the Ojców forests are the firecrest, the wren, and four species of warblers, including the white-throated warbler and the common warbler.

The limestone cliffs are the natural habitat of various bird species, including rooks, swifts, falcons, and even starlings. In the 19th century, the presence of the alpine thrush (rock thrush) was mentioned in Ojców.

Over the waters, we find the dipper and the kingfisher, species typical of mountain streams, as well as the kingfisher, related to this environment and uncommon in the Park. Since 1976, the occasional visit of the black stork has been observed (in 1990, this bird nested in Ojców National Park).

Amphibians and Reptiles

Amphibians and reptiles are two groups of vertebrate animals. They share the characteristic of having a body temperature that varies according to their environment, but they differ in many other features. Amphibians have bare and moist skin, while reptiles have dry and scaly skin. All amphibians have some relation to water, as they lay their eggs in it and go through a juvenile stage as tadpoles, which breathe through gills. Therefore, they are usually easier to find in spring during the breeding season, congregating in shallow bodies of water that warm up quickly. In contrast, the development of reptiles does not depend on water.

In the small space of Ojców National Park, there are seven species of amphibians and five of reptiles. Amphibians include species listed in Annex II of the EU Habitats Directive, such as the great crested newt and the natterjack toad, as well as species protected only at the national level, such as the common toad, different species of frogs, the common frog, and the painted frog.

As for reptiles, we find the slow worm, the viviparous lizard, the asp viper, the grass snake, and the dice snake. Reptiles prefer warmth and can be found mainly on very sunny slopes with drought-resistant vegetation, in rocky areas, but also in deciduous forests and humid environments. However, in Ojców National Park, there are no mountain species among the amphibians and reptiles.


In Poland, there are around 120 species of fish, of which 82 live in freshwater, and 35% of these species are introduced. Currently, seven species have been recorded in the waters of Ojców National Park: the brook trout inhabiting the Prądnik and Sąspówka, the lamprey, protected by national law, in extremely low numbers in the Prądnik, while in the ponds in Pieskowa Skala, the carp, a species listed in Annex II of the EU Habitats Directive, as well as the pike, perch, crucian carp, gudgeon, and an introduced species, the silver carp. Since 2012, brook trout have also been bred in the ponds in Ojców. Previously, an introduced species, the rainbow trout, was bred in these ponds. Since the 1970s, the presence of the brook minnow has not been confirmed, while the white-finned barbel, which is protected and listed in Annex II of the EU Habitats Directive, probably became extinct in Ojców National Park, most likely in the 1960s, although it is still found in the Prądnik below the Park’s boundary. The cause may be the large number of dams in the Prądnik that hinder the movement of this species, as well as the large number of predatory trout that easily consume it. The trout came from restocking and probably never existed naturally in Ojców National Park. The ponds in Pieskowa Skala are restocked by locals, outside the control of Ojców National Park.


The most numerous animal group in the Park and its surroundings are the invertebrates. More than 7,000 species have been identified here to date. Most of them have a wide range of distribution, but species with extreme needs, such as mountain species, relics of the cold tundra era, and xerophilous species, which arrived here during the warming of the climate in the so-called Holocene climatic optimum, are also found. Mountain species are generally concentrated on Chełmowa Mountain, in the valley bottoms and ravines, as well as near shaded rocks. Meanwhile, xerophilous species prefer the slopes with southern and southwestern exposure, such as the Widow’s Rocks, Grodzisko, Panieńskie, or the Krzyżowa Rock in Maszyce.

Terrestrial Species of Interest

  • Shiny earthworm (Eisenia lucens): has a dark red striped body and lives in decaying wood. When irritated, it produces mucus that glows in the dark. It is a mountain species.
  • Blue slug: a navy blue slug that lives in shady forests with decaying logs. It is a mountain species.
  • Four-toothed harvestman of Bielany: the largest harvestman in Europe, navy blue and similar to a centipede. It lives in shady and humid forests, sometimes forming large groups.
  • Meta menardi cave spider: a large reddish-brown spider that lives in cave entrances and basements. In Ojców, it is most commonly seen at the entrance to the Dark Cave. In autumn, females build large white cocoons suspended from a thread. In these cocoons, hundreds of small spiders hatch and hunt prey, mainly insects, in their web. Although venomous, it poses no danger to humans. No bites from this spider have been recorded in Ojców National Park.
  • Steppe wolf spider Atypus muralis: also known as the Polish tarantula, lives in sunny grasslands in Ojców, forming colonies and building ground hunting traps called "cuffs." It ambushes insects from its trap and drags them inside when disturbed. It then covers the hole.
  • Porrhomma egeria: a small yellowish spider, the only troglobiont arachnid in the Polish fauna, exclusively adapted to living in caves. One of its adaptations to cave life is the loss of dark body color and reduction of the eyes, unnecessary in a dark environment.
  • Golden-chested aquatic snail: the largest nosed snail in Poland, with a shiny black body with small light yellow spots. It is found on lime in the Prądnik, from which it feeds.
  • Blue butterfly (Czerończyk nieparek): a species associated with wet meadows, with predominantly orange wings on the upper side. The larvae feed on sorrel and are found in the Sąspowska Valley. Species of the EU Habitats Directive, listed in Annexes II and IV.
  • Bush cicada (Cicadetta cerdaniensis): previously called "Cycadetta montana" in Ojców, has a less loud song than its southern relatives. Therefore, it is difficult to hear, even in the meadows where it lives. The larvae develop for several years in the soil, feeding on the sap of plant roots.
  • Big-eared grasshopper (Ledra aurita): an insect with two ear-shaped appendages on its thorax. It has been sighted several times since the 19th century and lives in deciduous forests and hazel thickets.

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