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Best wildlife-themed jigsaw puzzles

Wildlife-themed puzzles are a lovely way to connect with nature, whether you're hiding from cold and wet weather, or just want to pass some time at home.

Young woman doing a puzzle at home
Published: August 6, 2022 at 7:00 am
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Jigsaw puzzles are a great for mindfulness, since they require focusing in on one thing and are very tactile. There’s also evidence that they can help improve memory and contribute towards preventing dementia. They are a good tool for developing skills in children, such as problem-solving and patience, whilst also educating them about the topic being puzzled over.

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Greater numbers of pieces don’t necessarily equate to increased difficulty, some smaller puzzles can have tricky colour gradients to work with or no flat edges to help you get started.

With winter fast approaching, we've been busy testing some out – and thoroughly enjoying doing so!

If you're interested more reviews, check out our guides to more wildlife-themed games, gifts for wildlife lovers and podcasts.


Night Reef 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle

An illustrator based in Hove in Sussex, Elena Essex combines bright and dazzling colours with wildlife in her four gorgeous 1000-piece puzzles for teenagers and adults (recommended for 14 years plus). Dive into the depths of the ocean with Night Reef (pictured), explore the stunning diversity of animal species with Rainbow Kingdom, puzzle over groovy fungi with Woodland Magic or attempt her circular puzzle with Bird Paradise.

She has also produced a world map jigsaw puzzle featuring animals and landmarks in her 300-piece puzzle for kids (recommended for 7 years plus). A full-size colour poster is included with each poster for help in completing the puzzle, and the puzzle box is made of recycled materials.

Marsh Owl 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle

Based in Rutland, Angela Harding is a renowned fine art painter and illustrator who specialises in lino prints. Her work will be particularly familiar to readers of the RSPB Birds book by Miranda Krestovnikoff, which is illustrated throughout by Harding, and The Salt Path and The Wild Silence by Raynor Winn, which both feature Harding’s artwork on their jackets.

As well as notebooks and tote bags, a number of jigsaw puzzles have been reproduced from her art prints, including Marsh Owl (pictured above), Look Out and Rose Cottage. Each one contains 500 or 1,000 pieces, is made from FSC materials and come with a handy reference poster.

RGB Animal Carnovsky 500-piece 3 pictures in 1 jigsaw puzzle

RGB Animal Carnovsky 500-piece 3 pictures in 1 jigsaw puzzle

I’m not gonna lie, this jigsaw puzzle hurt my brain, and my eyes! The three primary colours of red, yellow and blue make up three sets of illustrations by Carnovsky – who are an art and design duo called Francesco Rugi and Silvia Quintanilla and based in Milan, Italy. The colours occasionally overlap to produce greens, oranges and purples.

Trying to hold the three sets of illustrations in your head is quite difficult, so I focused on one illustration at time, and the associated patterns – the large and winding snake, the dodo, the turtle, and the puzzle came together gradually until it was finally a case of filling in the odd gap.

I was working on the ‘Animal’ puzzle, and two other themed jigsaw puzzles are also available: ‘Jungle’ and ‘Ocean’.

Cavallini & Co. 1000 Piece Vintage Puzzle, Mushrooms

Vintage Puzzle Fungi

This fungi puzzle features 22 vintage-inspired illustrations of mushrooms, or rather ‘Champignons’, all accompanied by a scientific name. The pieces come in a handsewn muslin bag, and packaged in a 10-inch tube.

Putting this jigsaw puzzle together actually meant working backwards. Instead of sorting out and fitting together the edge pieces first, and then working on the inside, it was much easier to do this puzzle vice versa, as all of the outside pieces are incredibly similar to each other. So instead I grouped the inside pieces by species, and worked outwards from there. A very satisfying jigsaw puzzle to do, and I learnt about features and scientifici names of the fungi too.

Zoology 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle

The ever-popular Wrendale designs featuring the characters by artist Hannah Dale can now be found on jigsaw puzzles! There are six in the range: ‘Country Set’, ‘A Dog's Life’, ‘Garden Birds’, ‘Zoology’ (pictured above), ‘Farmyard Friends’ and ‘Country Set Christmas’.

All of the six designs feature over 100 detailed illustrated illustrations along its theme (for example, penguins and elephants are amongst those featured in ‘Zoology’, long-tailed tits and goldfinches are amongst the species featured in ‘Garden Birds’), are made up of 1000-pieces, and when completed, the coloured border contains a verse inspired by the natural world. The packaging is plastic-free, and the jigsaw itself is sustainably sourced.

Read more reviews of Wrendale products in our gifts for wildlife lovers and wildlife-themed socks articles.

Amazing Insects Glow in the Dark 100-piece jigsaw puzzle

Aimed at children (and adults) aged five plus, this fabulous jigsaw puzzle is made up of 100 pieces (made from recycled materials) and features a range of colourful insects including beetles, grasshoppers and butterflies.

However, there’s an additional fun twist to this particular jigsaw puzzle! Turn off the lights and you'll discover that this puzzle actually glows in the dark! Bound to enthral any young naturalist, this is a lovely way to connect children with nature. Other wildlife-themed puzzles in this glow-in-the-dark series from Mudpuppy include Frogs & Lizards, In The Forest, Rainforest, Under The Sea and Dinosaur.

Nature reserve 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle

Illustrated by wildlife artist Pollyanna Pickering, this river nature reserve themed square jigsaw is rather lovely. The jigsaw features a beautiful river scene with a vibrant kingfisher in the foreground and other bird and wildlife species along the edge of the puzzle, making it an ideal gift for any bird lover.

At 1,000 pieces, the jigsaw is challenging enough to satisfy serious puzzle enthusiasts without being too daunting for the less experienced.

Accompanied with a useful illustration guide, this eco-friendly puzzle took an enjoyment couple of Sunday afternoons to complete. The edging and river sections can be a little tricky to piece together and took some patience to complete, but of course that’s part of the joy of doing a jigsaw puzzle.

Reviewed by Carys Matthews, group digital editor, BBC Countryfile and BBC Wildlife

Aquatic 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle

There are lots of contemporary jigsaw puzzle brands out there, designing beautiful and unusual jigsaws for adults. But there aren’t many with the high level of eco-credentials that Cloudberries has.

Firstly, the jigsaws themselves are made from recycled paper and board, and printed with vegetable-based inks. The boxes are sustainably sourced, and the shipping is carbon neutral – offset via Carbonfund.org. And separately to this, the company works in partnership with Eden Rainforest Projects to plant one tree for every puzzle sold in countries such as Indonesia, Nepal and Madagascar.

The designs are diverse and range from 500 to 2000 die-cut pieces that click together satisfyingly when you put them together. Some have simple colour block patterns (for the hardcore puzzlers), others a more specific design you can follow visually. Wildlife fans will love Aquatic (pictured above), Fauna, Whale, Hybrids, Shells and Rooster – all of which vary in difficulty but all of which are aimed at adults in their aesthetic. That’s not to say a determined teenager couldn’t tackle one though…

Reviewed by Tanya Jackson, acting group digital editor, BBC Wildlife and BBC Countryfile

Blooming Wolf 185-piece jigsaw puzzle

If you’re after something a bit different, try this colourful and absorbing 185-piecer. Like all Wentworth products, it’s UK-made (from sustainable sources) and includes the Victorian-inspired ‘whimsy’ pieces, shaped according to theme – so here, wolves, flowers and ornate spirals.

These aren’t your standard jigsaws. Aside from the obvious quality of the wooden pieces, they are a law unto themselves – middle pieces can have straight edges and no two are the same. I began mid-morning and emerged mid-afternoon – just the right level of taxing.

Reviewed by Sarah McPherson, features editor, BBC Wildlife


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Main image: Young woman doing a jigsaw puzzle. © The Good Brigade/Getty

Authors

Megan ShersbyEditorial and digital co-ordinator at BBC Wildlife Magazine, and countryfile.com
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