Texas, nicknamed the Lone Star State, has no shortage of wild animals that call it home. Many of them play vital roles in the state’s ecosystem, and some pose serious risk to people. In this article we give you some examples of wild animals in Texas, but broken down into 5 different categories including native, endangered, and invasive.
Let’s have a look!
Examples of wild animals in Texas
There are a number of common animals in Texas, but they don’t play the same role. Some are native to the state, while others are invasive and cause real harm to the ecosystem. There are certain animals that are dangerous to humans, and others have reached endangered species status.
1. Native animals in Texas
Texas has several wildlife life species that are native to the Lone Star state. Many of them pose little harm to people.
Texas Rat Snake
Scientific name: Elaphe obsoleta lindheimeri
This non venomous rat snake can be found all over the state of Texas, and have been found as far as Louisiana and Arkansas. They can reach as long as six feet, and can act aggressive towards humans. However, their bites are relatively harmless.
Northern Black-bellied Whistling Duck
Scientific name: Dendrocygna autumnalis
These animals thrive in the warm climates of Texas and Mexico, and in recent years their numbers have been rapidly increasing. They prefer to nest on the ground near shallow water such as ponds. In northern areas they sometimes move further south for the winter.
Western Ribbon Snake
Scientific name: Thamnophis proximus
This type of garter snake is common in western regions like Texas, Mexico, and Central America. These snakes can be recognized by their three stripes. They are harmless snakes that only reach about 30 inches long.
2. Dangerous animals in Texas
There are a number of dangerous animals that can be found in the state of Texas. Most of them are deadly and should be avoided at all costs.
Scientific name: Crotalus atrox
This snake species is one of the most dangerous for humans, and responsible for the most snake bites in the United States. It’s extremely venomous and can reach up to 72 inches long. In total, there are at least 10 species of rattlesnakes found in the state of Texas. Among these are the western diamondback, the Mojave rattlesnake, the prairie rattlesnake, and the desert rattlesnake to name a few.
Scientific name: Alligator mississippiensis
The American Alligator is a massive reptile native to the Southern U.S. While they are commonly associated with Florida or Louisiana, these creatures are just as likely to be found in Texas. They can reach over eight feet long and weigh half a ton.
Scientific name: Puma concolor
Cougars are one of the most widespread mammals in the country, and can be found from Canada to Texas and South America. Attacks by cougars aren’t common, but there have been instances of them going after lone hikers.
3. Endangered animals in Texas
Some of the animal species that call Texas home are endangered, and may be extinct in the near future. While there are efforts to protect these animals, they still face several threats.
Scientific name: Mustela nigripes
The black footed ferret is a small mammal native to North America that is currently endangered. While populations are increasing, ferrets newly introduced to the wild are more at risk for predator attacks.
Scientific name: Leopardus pardalis albescens
These medium sized wild cats are easily recognizable for their spotted coat and ringed tail. They are nocturnal and spend the night hunting small rodents and other animals. The subspecies of Ocelot found in Texas is federally endangered, and under a thousand are thought to still be in the wild.
Scientific name: Grus americana
This crane, named after the whooping noise it makes, is one of only two crane species native to North America. There are only about five hundred that have survived thanks to conservation efforts. The Whooping Crane is the tallest and rarest bird in North America
4. Invasive animals in Texas
Texas suffers from several invasive species that have wreaked havoc on the state’s natural wildlife and ecosystem. There have been attempts to eradicate these species, but no permanent solutions have been found yet.
Scientific name: Sus scrofa
Feral hogs have caused a lot of damage in Texas, and it is estimated that around two million can currently be found in the state. These invasive species can also pose a threat to humans as they have been known to attack without being provoked.
Scientific name: Cyprinus carpio
Texas waters are full of more than one kind of invasive Asian carp. They can harm the state’s fisheries and disrupt the natural food chain. Some carp species have even been known to jump out of the water and hit people or land in their boats.
5. Texas state animals
Texas has decided that there isn’t just one animal that should represent the state, but instead there are eight of them. All of the state animals are the Northern Mockingbird, the Nine-banded Armadillo, the Texas Longhorn, the Mexican Free-Tailed Bat, the Blue Lacy, the Texas Horned Lizard, the Monarch Butterfly, and Guadalupe Bass.
Scientific name: Dasypus novemcinctus
The nine-banded Armadillo became the small state mammal in 1995. It earned the title after an elementary school’s mock election tied the armadillo with the longhorn for state mammal. The longhorn subsequently became the large state mammal.
This armadillo species is the only one native to North America, and can even be found up north in Oklahoma. They’ve gained a reputation in Texas for wandering in front of cars.
Scientific name: Bos taurus taurus
This cattle species became popular in Texas in the late 1800s during cattle drives. Ten million longhorns were driven from Mexico and into Texas during the Civil War. Their horns can reach seven feet long from one tip to the other.
Longhorns became the state’s large mammal at the same time the nine-banded armadillo became the state’s small mammal.
Scientific name: Mimus polyglottos
The Northern Mockingbird is quite common in Texas, and officially became the state bird in 1927. It was nominated when the General Federation of Women’s Clubs suggested each state select a bird to represent them. Governor Dan Moody approved this measure and Texas became the first state to select a bird mascot.
Summary of Texas’s wild animals
Texas has a diverse range of wildlife, and many of these species are even used to represent what the state is all about. There are some invasive animal species that can harm the ecosystem, but many of the creatures that call Texas home play an important role.