The Mediterranean’s second largest island is famed for its sandy beaches, however its rocky cliffs, rugged interior and many coastal lagoons are home to wild flowers, insects and birds.
Covering an area of 23,821 square kilometres, the semi-autonomous island of Sardinia is separated from mainland Italy by the Tyrrhenian Sea, part of the Mediterranean. Its coastline, which stretches for 1,849 kilometres in all, is generally high and rocky, consisting of many long and relatively straight stretches, with numerous headlands, a few wide and deep bays, many inlets and various offshore islands.
The island is home to several rare or uncommon mammals, some of which are endemic subspecies – such as: Mediterranean monk seal, Sarcidano horse, Giara horse, albino donkey, Sardinian wild cat, mouflon, Sardinian long-eared bat, Sardinian deer, fallow deer, Sardinian fox, Sardinian hare, wild boar, edible dormouse and European pine marten.
Rare amphibians found only on the island are Sardinian brook salamander, brown cave salamander, imperial cave salamander, Monte Albo cave salamander, Supramonte cave salamander and Sarrabus cave salamander; the Sardinian tree frog is found in Corsica too, and in the islands of the Tuscan archipelago. Among the reptiles worthy of note are Bedriaga's rock lizard, Tyrrhenian wall lizard and Fitzinger's algyroides – all endemic to Sardinia and Corsica. The island is inhabited by terrestrial tortoises and sea turtles such as Hermann's, spur-thighed, marginated and Nabeul tortoises, plus loggerhead and green sea turtles.
There are four endemic subspecies of birds: great spotted woodpecker, great tit, common chaffinch, and Eurasian jay, and Sardinia shares a further ten endemic subspecies of bird with neighbouring Corsica. Its long list of raptors includes griffon vulture, common buzzard, golden eagle, long-eared owl, western marsh harrier, peregrine falcon, European honey buzzard, Sardinian goshawk, Bonelli's eagle and Eleonora's falcon, which takes its name from Eleonor of Arborea, a national heroine who was an expert falconer. The many lagoons and coastal lakes are home to various wading birds, including the greater flamingo.
The island has also long been used for grazing flocks of indigenous Sardinian sheep. The Sardinian Anglo-Arab is a horse breed that was established in Sardinia, where it has been selectively bred for more than one hundred years.
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