Rare and special animals and plants in the biosphere

With the Glöggli frog the father carries the spawn / © Andreas Meyer, karch


Alongside the species typical of the Alps and their foothills, Entlebuch is home to some special plants and animals. A number of these are extremely rare.

Midwife toad: the toad with the bell-like call

The amphibious midwife toad gets its nickname (the «Glögglifrosch») from its bell-like call that males use to attract females in the mating season. Entlebuch still supports some populations of this endangered species, which ranks as a beautiful nature conservation priority. Its call is not the only special thing about this toad; in contrast to many other animals, it is the father who looks after the young. The male wraps the egg string around his rear legs and only releases tadpoles into the water when they are ready to hatch. The animal takes advantage of spawning sites such as ponds and puddles as well as terrestrial habitats with multiple places to hide (such as clumps of branches). 

Large blue: butterfly with a trick

The large blue is a blue butterfly that lives in dry zones of Entlebuch, such as alpine pastures and grazing areas. It lays its eggs on leaves of the thyme plant, on which the caterpillar starts to feed. After a certain time, the caterpillars will drop and pretend to be young ants. The ants fall for this trick and take the caterpillar back to their nest, where they feed it like their own young – until the caterpillar pupates and flies the nest as a mature butterfly.



As the name indicates, the Pseudoblothrus thiebaudi is not a real scorpion but an arachnid closely related to scorpions and measuring just 2mm. The species was discovered in a Schrattenfluh cave in 1966 and documented for the first time by Max Vachon in 1969. The species is not found anywhere else in the world, making pseudoblothrus thiebaudi the only endemic species of the UNESCO Biosphere Entlebuch.

Black bog ants and moor rush: ice age relicts

Both the moor rush and the black bog ant are highly endangered species. Within Switzerland, they are almost exclusively found in the moorlands of Entlebuch. Both are relicts of the ice ages, survivors from an era when the now-extinct mammoth still roamed Switzerland. These species were far more widespread back then, given that they thrive in wet and cool habitats; today they have found a surrogate habitat in the wet and cool moors. The extremely rare moor rush draws botanists from all over Europe to Entlebuch.

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Black bog ant - A relict species from the ice age / © Wolfgang Münch

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Moor rush/ © Biopix.dk


Special lichens and mosses

Entlebuch also supports a surprisingly large biodiversity of small and lesser known creatures, as confirmed by the ‘biodiversity day’ first held in 2016. For example, some very rare lichen such as anaptychia ciliaris, reindeer lichen and chaenotheca cinerea are still found in the woodlands of Entlebuch. Bryum versicolor, which grows on sandy and gravelly alluvial plains of Entlebuch, is also an endangered Red List species.

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© Karl Bürgi-Meyer

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© Karl Bürgi-Meyer

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© Dr. Heike Hofmann