Visitors can meet all four members of the deer family in Jotunheimen. Roaming moose may be seen high in the mountains during the summer. Red deer live in the forest area towards Jotunheimen, and they sometimes migrate up into the high mountains during the summer. During recent years, a population of red deer has established itself on the southern side of Gjende lake. Roe deer can be seen sporadically around the fringes of the protected area.
Reindeer are good at taking advantage of the plant life in the high mountains, and they are the only animals that can utilize the nutrients found in lichen, which ensures their survival throughout the winter. The reindeer that are currently found in the eastern parts of Jotunheimen are domesticated reindeer. Jotunheimen’s wild reindeer populations are found in the Hurrungane mountains and further west of the national park. Jotunheimen has been a reindeer habitat for a long time, and a lot of reindeer hunting and trapping has taken place in these wild, mountainous areas.
Learn more about the wild reindeer
Of the four large predators, wolverines are the ones that visitors most often meet or see traces of in Jotunheimen. Agile and strong, wolverines roam around the mountains hunting and scavenging. They are loners that have huge territories.
Lynx are active at night and prefer the forest as their hunting ground. They are very shy and not easy to catch a glimpse of. Lynx are more common in the forests outside Jotunheimen, but their tracks can occasionally be seen in Jotunheimen and Utladalen.
The two other large predators, wolves and bears, were a lot more prevalent in the past.
There are permanent populations of small predators such as pine martens, mink, red foxes, stoats and weasels. The red fox has largely taken over the territories of the very rare Arctic fox. Mink are experts at catching fish and are an introduced species in Norwegian nature. Keep an eye on the trout you catch as the mink won’t think twice about stealing it from you!
These tiny little fellows have been here just as long as the reindeer, wolverines and Arctic foxes. Every now and again, a lemming year occurs. Lemmings are everywhere in the mountains during a lemming year. This means that other prey in the mountains pretty much get a year off.
There are also many other species of small rodents in the national park, such as field voles, tundra voles and bank voles. One of the distinctive features of the mountain ecosystem is the cyclic fluctuations found in small rodent populations. These small mammals make up a considerable part of the nutrition that many other animal and bird species higher up the food chain require. These fluctuations affect the populations of many of the species that are found in the mountain ecosystem. Large populations of small rodents provide good conditions and more food for predators and birds of prey. During such years, ptarmigan have an easier time and are able to produce many more chicks. This is how ptarmigan populations can increase after good small rodent years, just like they can decrease after years where small rodent populations have been poor.
Mountain trout, salmon and sea trout
There are many fishing lakes in the eastern parts of the national park. The trout is the dominant species here, and the mountain lakes that lie high up in the mountains have to be restocked in order to maintain fish populations. The fish grow very slowly in these mountain lakes due to the very short growing season, but there are still many fish of a good quality and size.
In Utladalen, both salmon and sea trout swim up the River Utla to the Avdalsfossen waterfall. Mountain trout can be found further up in the river.
Fishing licenses can be purchased at inatur.no and at various tourist information offices and tourist cabins.