The Republic of Malta consists of a series of islands off the southern coast of Sicily. Its climate is subtropical and the terrain is arid and hilly. In the hills there are wooded areas and natural caverns that provide ideal places for animals seeking dens for their habitat.
The seas surrounding Malta are home to many fish and mammals that thrive in such relatively calm and moderately warm waters. It is not surprising, then, that dolphins are commonly seen off Malta's shores; specifically the Atlantic dolphin, the bottle-nosed dolphin and the gray dolphin
endemic to Malta. Related mammals like the long-finned pilot whale and the false killer whale
can also be spotted from Malta's rocky beaches.
Further inland, in Malta's leafier plains and foothills, insects such as the Maltese ruby tiger moth thrive. Where such delicate insects abound, preying lizards cannot be far behind. The Maltese wall lizard and four of its subspecies are unique to Malta, in fact.
Overhead, an amazing number and variety of bats have made Malta their home. The natural caves and shadier wooded areas in the hills provide ideal refuge for these creatures dormant in the sunlight hours. The lesser horseshoe bat
, greater mouse-eared bat, noctule
, kuhl's pipistrelle, common pipistrelle
and gray big-eared bat are among those whose squeals can be heard when darkness approaches.
At the top of Malta's animal chain the least weasel
and cross fox prey on smaller land animals sharing their space.
Most of the islands in the archipelago that is Malta are uninhabited and thus provide a great opportunity to study the natural interplay of so many species in Malta's food chain, all in a compact and manageable area. Students of this fascinating drama of nature will also enjoy Malta itself as a welcoming and lovely host country.