The Asturcon is the mythical beast of the Sueve. The Asturcon is the renowned indigenous pony breed of Asturias, first mentioned in Roman texts dating from 80 BC, in which it is referredto as a "war horse". In the Sueve range they exist in a semi-wildstate, living on rough forage unpalatable to other livestock, and ideally adapted to the difficult terrain. These characteristics have made them sought after as work-horses as well as war-horses, and they have been sold on agricultural markets across Spain, and as far a field as Ireland. They have been used in the mines of Asturias, and for pulling carriages in Paris. By the end of the 1970s the Asturcon was on the verge of extinction, but it has been brought back from the brink by dedicated organisations and farmers. The Asturcon owns a special place in the Asturian culture and psyche.
Fallow deer were introduced to the Sueve in 1960as hunting stock, and can frequently be seen grazing along side farm animals in the pastures. The males can weigh up to 100kg, and have unmistakeably large antlers, which they lose in May and grow back intime for the autumn mating season. Fallow deer have no natural predators on the Sueve (the wolf having disappeared last century), and their unchecked growth in numbers can cause problems with farming livelihoods and the overall ecology of the area. Tree buds form a part of their diet, which is cited as a factor in the lack of regeneration in the yew forests of the Sueve.
As well as Asturcon ponies and fallow deer, the Sueve is home to thefox, pine marten, genet, badger, roe deer, wild boar (which are very numerous, and also hunted), hedgehog, water vole, mole, red squirrel,the lesser white-toothed shrew, weasel, dormouse, and three speciesof bat.
There is a sizeable colony of approximately 20 to 30 griffon vultures inthe Sueve, and Egyptian vultures can be seen in the air (although they are not resident in the Sueve itself but in the surrounding hills). Other birds worthy of note are the golden oriole, common buzzard, peregrine falcon, sparrow hawk,short-toed eagle, hen harrier, barn owl, little owl, jay, alpine chough, and the bullfinch.
Some of the most commonly seen animals of the Sueve are the small lizards of the Lacertagenus, darting into cover as people approach. Other reptiles include the slow worm, the eye-catching European green lizard, the harmless Coronella austriaca snake, the harmless grass snake, and the common adder.
To read more about the Sueve mountains, click on the chapter headings at the top of this page.