Animals of the Rhön are as remarkable as its plants. Big differences in elevation and a very diverse landscape provide a vast habitat for many bird species.
About 110 bird species are breeding here. Rare species are the Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea), raptors such as Honey Bussard (Pernis apivorus), Red Kite (Milvus milvus), Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) and Hobby (Falco subbuteo). One can only guess that Tengmalm's Owl (Aegolius funereus) and Pygmy Owl (Glaucidium passerinum) are breeding in the Rhön. The Nutcracker (Nucifraga caryocatactes) could be registered again as breeding bird. Rare breeding birds are, among others, Nightjar (Caprimulgus europaeus), Dipper (Cinclus cinclus), Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis), Common Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra) and Corncrake (Crex crex). In the highest ranges of the "Hohen Rhön", courtship sites of the very rare Black Grouse (Tetrao tetrix) can be found. These areas also represent the refuge for the rare Black Stork (Ciconia nigra). Furthermore, the Eagle Owl (Bubo bubo) and sometimes the Peregrine (Falco peregrinus) is foraging in the Rhön. The Raven (Corvus corax) also returned to the Rhön. Additionally, the high mountain ranges are resting sites for many migratory birds.
Extensively used open meadows of the Upper Rhön provide the habitat for many rare and endangered butterflies and other insect species. For instance, Papilio machaon, Melanargia galathea and Parnassius apollo can still be found here. Deer and wild boars are wide spread because they like the numerous woods and hedges. The same applies to predators such as fox (vulpes vulpes), badgers (Meles meles), marten (Martes foina, Martes martes), polecat (Putorius putorius), big weasel (Mustela erminea) and small weasel (Mustela nivalis) which find favourable living conditions in boulders and stone walls. Single occurrences of moufflon (Ovis musimon) can be found in Thuringia.
The rest of mammals in the area are small mammals:
The following amphibians can be found:
As for snakes and lizards Anguis gragilis, Lacerta agilis and Lacerta vivipara exist. The latter can be found especially on the meadows of the Upper Rhön. On suitable sites also Vipera berus, Coronella austriaca and - more rare - Natrix natrix can be found.
Fresh mountainous creeks count as trout region. Apart from the umbrella species trout (Salmo truta), Cottus spp., Thymallus thymallus and Anguilla anguilla occur. Also, crawfish and mussels can still be found. Water birds are rare because the Rhön has only few lakes.
Reference: Die Rhön, Landschaft und Geschichte - Eine Kurzinformation, Gerhilde Kramm, Schriftenreihe des Rhönklubs e.V.