Animals in Alaska

Below you can find a complete list of Alaskan animals. We currently track 120 animals in United States (Alaska) and are adding more every day!

Alaska is the largest of the 50 states of the United States, located on the northwest border of Canada. Because of its proximity to the North Pole, during the winter months, there are parts of Alaska that do not have sunlight for two months. In summer, those same areas do not have a sunset for nearly three months. Alaska’s climate primarily ranges between subarctic and tundra.

Despite its harsh climate and strange daylight hours, Alaska has an abundance of native wildlife, both common and rare. The northernmost state is home to 112 species of mammals, several species of large and small rodents, 530 different types of birds, and lots of other kinds of strange and wonderful wild animals. There are even three separate shark species found in the waters off the coast of Alaska. In total, there are around 1100 vertebrate species that call Alaska home. Many of these animals are dangerous, and several others are endangered.

The Official State Animals of Alaska

The State animal of Alaska is the moose (Alces alces). Moose, whose name comes from a native word, is the largest of the deer family, and stands nearly eight feet tall at the top of their antlers. These antlers, which only grow on male moose, can reach up to six feet in width. These antlers fall off every year of a moose’s 15-20 year life span, providing a winter food source for squirrels and other rodents. Moose can weigh up to 1800 and are dangerous to humans.

Alaska also has a state bird, which is the Willow Ptarmigan. While this bird is also found in parts of Canada, Alaska is the only state where this bird is found. It is one of only a handful of state birds that can be legally hunted. It is also one of the only Alaskan birds which does not migrate south in the winter. It was designated the official bird even before Alaska was recognized as one of the now 50 states.

There is also a state marine mammal, the bowhead whale, and a state fish, the giant king salmon. They even have a state insect! That distinction goes to the four spot skimmer dragonfly.

Where To Find The Top Wild Animals in Alaska

While many species are confined to single areas, moose, birds, and Alaska’s rodent population, which includes beavers, lemmings, voles, squirrels, porcupines, and hamsters, can be found all across the inhabited parts of the state.

A large portion of the wildlife in Alaska can be found in Denali National Park and Preserve, located between Fairbanks and Anchorage. It is said to be the least expensive of the parks and also to be best because it is located in the interior of the state. Some of the most common animals to be spotted in Denali and the interior are:

  • Grizzly Bear – These bears are found all over the state. There is a larger subspecies found only on the Kodiak Islands that rival polar bears for size! These bears are extremely territorial and not at all afraid of humans. Unprovoked attacks are rare, but they do happen.
  • Dall Sheep – These cliff climbing sheep are found all over the mountains of Alaska. They are solid white with curved and curled horns. The distinctive ridged circles on their horns are caused by the noncontinuous growth patterns, which are seasonal each year. They can live as long as 20 years in the wild, though 12 years is more common.
  • Caribou – Caribou are a type of reindeer. They are most commonly called Porcupine Caribou, after the river that makes up part of their roaming grounds. During the summer, when mosquito populations are at their worst, caribou herds head onto the ice fields to avoid them. Though their numbers are still in the 10,000s, between 2010 and 2016, their population dropped by over 60 percent. The full reasons for this are unknown, though hunting undoubtedly was a partial factor.
  • Wolves – The howl of a wolf is fairly unmistakable. For the most part, wolves are wary of humans and stay away. That is a very good thing because wolf packs are efficient predators and have been known to kill wildlife herds without eating any of the kills. All modern dogs can be traced back to wolves.
  • Black Bear – There are about twice as many black bears in Alaska as any other bear. Unlike grizzlies, black bears are fairly docile and generally won’t attack unless they feel threatened. Their diet is mostly vegetarian.
  • Flying Squirrel – Unlike other squirrels, flying squirrels have excess skin and fur that is webbed between their front and hind limbs. These strange flaps combined with their light weight allow them to float between distant branches. Though these gliding rodents are about a foot long from their nose to the tip of their tail, they weigh less than five ounces!
  • Porcupine – These are Alaska’s second largest rodent, weighing in at nearly 15 pounds. Their diet consists of tree bark, buds and leaves. Their quills, successfully able to discourage all but a few predators, are often used by native tribes to adorn their traditional clothing.

There are several other state- and national parks in Alaska as well, all of which are recommended viewing locations for wildlife. Other places to see wildlife in Alaska include Chugach State Park, Katmai National Park, and Glacier Bay National Park.

The Most Dangerous Animals In Alaska Today

  • Moose – Though Moose are not predators they are one of Alaska’s most dangerous types of wildlife. Their immense height and weight, combined with their huge antlers and unpredictable nature, make them a serious danger to humans who happen upon one in the wild. These beasts can run up to 35 miles per hour.
  • Polar Bears – Polar Bears definitely are predators, and very dangerous ones. Because of the extreme conditions in which they live, encounters between humans and Polar Bears are thankfully rare, but these gigantic hypercarnivores are ferocious and deadly. They can grow as tall as 12 feet and weigh as much as a full ton.
  • Grizzly and Black Bears – Common throughout Alaska, both of these bears can be extremely dangerous. Grizzlies are very aggressive and territorial, while Black Bears will usually only attack if threatened or provoked, but avoiding both is recommended.
  • Wolves – This living ancestor of all modern dogs can weigh as much as 150 pounds. It is rare for wolf packs to attack people, but they are capable of decimating a small herd of other animals, and could be dangerous to a human under the right conditions.
  • Walrus – Walrus, who can live nearly 40 years, weigh more than twice as much as the largest recorded Polar Bear, and can grow up to 16 feet long. These strange and massive mammals have taken down small boats filled with people who got too close to their young.

Endangered Animals In Alaska

According to the IUCN Red List, the following are listed as vulnerable, threatened, or endangered.

  • Northern sea otter (Enhydra lutris kenyoni) – In the last 40 years, sea otter populations have declined by between 55-65 percent. This was after commercial harvesting in the early 1900s had reduced their numbers to the hundreds. Suspected causes of their dwindling numbers include oil spills and other pollution, increased predation by killer whales, becoming ensnared in fishing nets, and interference caused by various other human activities.
  • Polar bear (Ursus maritimus) – There are estimated to be about 4000 polar bears left in existence. The primary threat to them is habitat loss due to rising global temperatures. Polar bears require sea ice to survive and with melting polar ice caps on the rise, they are at risk of going extinct if nothing changes. Besides the melting ice, their dens are threatened by seismic survey practices.
  • Spectacled eider (Somateria fischeri) – It is not known exactly what is causing the eider populations to decline. Possible causes are hunting for feathers, ingestion of lead shot by the eiders themselves, and an increase in predators. Their numbers are currently being closely monitored and attempts are being made to do away with or at least reduce the use of ammunition containing toxic lead.
  • Short-tailed albatross (Phoebastria albatrus) – These large seabirds only breed in two island locations, one of which has active volcanic activity. This volcanic activity combined with poor fishing practices and years of being hunted for their feathers has resulted in dwindling populations. Little can be done about the volcano, however, hunting these albatross is now outlawed, and fishing practices have been changed to decrease the mortality rate.
  • Wood bison (Bison bison athabascae) – Only about 4000 Wood Bison remain, spread across seven wild herds. This bison has actually gone extinct within Alaska itself and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, in coordination with the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, has been working toward releasing a currently captive herd of Wood Bison back into Alaska once their numbers are high enough.

Alaskan Animals

Alaskan Malamute

Often used as sled dogs!

American Coonhound

Easygoing and people-friendly!

Ant

First evolved 100 million years ago!

Arctic Fox

Extremely thick winter fur!

Aurochs

Extinct ancestor of all domesticated cattle!

Barn Owl

Found everywhere around the world!

Bat

Detects prey using echolocation!

Bea-Tzu

The Bea-Tzu has a fast-growing coat

Beabull

An excellent companion for cats!

Bear

There are 8 different species!

Beaver

Builds a dam from sticks and leaves!

Beetle

There are more than 350,000 different species

Bird

Not all birds are able to fly!

Black Widow Spider

They typically prey on insects!

Brown Bear

A dominant predator in it's environment!

Bumblebee

The most common species of bee!

Butterfly

There are thought to be up 20,000 species!

Camel Cricket

The camel crickets that are found in the USA are light brown in color. They also have dark streaks all over their body.

Cat

First domesticated by the Ancient Egyptians!

Caterpillar

The larvae of a moth or butterfly!

Catfish

There are nearly 3,000 different species!

Chicken

First domesticated more than 10,000 years ago!

Cockroach

Dated to be around 300 million years old!

Cougar

Largest feline in North America

Cow

There are nearly 1.5 million worldwide!

Coyote

Also known as the Prairie Wolf!

Crab

There are 93 different crab groups

Crab Spider

Crab Spiders can mimic ants or bird droppings

Crane

Many are critically endangered species!

Deer

There are around 40 different species!

Dog

First domesticated in South-East Asia!

Doxle

Doxles have long floppy ears

Dragonfly

It's larvae are carnivorous!

Duck

Rows of tiny plates line their teeth!

Eagle

Has exceptional eyesight!

Earwig

There are nearly 2,000 different species!

Falcon

The fastest creatures on the planet!

Fly

There are more than 240,000 different species!

Fox

There are 12 different species in the world!

Frog

There are around 7,000 different species!

Glass Lizard

Can grow up to 4ft long!

Glow Worm

Found inhabiting dense woodland and caves!

Golden Pyrenees

Golden Pyrenees make great therapy dogs due to their intelligence and gentle nature.

Goose

There are 29 different species!

Grasshopper

There are 11,000 known species!

Grizzly Bear

Less than 10% make it into adulthood

Hamster

Able to run as quickly backwards as forwards!

Hare

Can reach speeds of over 40 mph!

Heron

Inhabits wetlands around the world!

Highland Cattle

Natively found in the Scottish Highlands!

Honey Bee

There are only 8 recognized species!

Horse

Has evolved over 50 million years!

Horsefly

Horseflies have been seen performing Immelmann turns, much like fighter jets.

Human

Thought to have orignated 200,000 years ago!

Insects

There are an estimated 30 million species!

Kingfisher

Inhabits wetlands and woodlands worldwide!

Ladybug

There are more than 5,000 species worldwide!

Liger

The offspring of a lion and tiger parents!

Lizard

There are around 5,000 different species!

Long-Eared Owl

Ear tufts make it look bigger!

Lynx

Live in dens in rocks and under ledges!

Mayfly

There are 2,500 known species worldwide!

Millipede

Some species have a poisonous bite!

Mink

The mink can swim up to 100 feet underwater.

Mole

Primarily hunts and feeds on Earthworms!

Mongrel

Has characteristics of two or more breeds!

Moorhen

Feeds on aquatic insects and water-spiders!

Moth

There are 250,000 different species!

Mountain Lion

Has no real natural predators!

Mouse

Found on every continent on Earth!

Mule

The offspring of a horse and donkey parents!

Newt

Able to regrow lost or damaged limbs!

North American Black Bear

Short claws make them good tree climbers!

Opossum

Thought to be immune to certain snake venom!

Otter

There are 13 different species worldwide

Panther

Prefers to hunt at night than during the day!

Pheasant

Females lay between 8 and 12 eggs per clutch!

Pig

Thought to have been domesticated in 9,000 BC!

Pika

Found in mountainous regions and rocky areas

Pike Fish

Apex freshwater predators with fearsome teeth!

Polar Bear

Could be extinct within the next 30 years!

Porcupine

There are 30 different species worldwide!

Prairie Rattlesnake

The striking distance of a prairie rattlesnake is 2/3rds the length of its body.

Puffin

Can remain in the water for up to 2 minutes!

Puma

Has longer back legs than front legs!

Quail

Inhabits woodland and forest areas worldwide!

Rabbit

There are more than 50 different species!

Raccoon

Known to wash their food before eating it!

Rat

Omnivores that eat anything!

Rattlesnake

It's venom digests it's prey before it even swallows it!

Reindeer

Also known as the Caribou

River Turtle

Inhabits freshwater habitats around the world!

Robin

There are more than 45 species in Australia alone!

Rodents

The capybara, the world’s largest rodent, likes to be in and around bodies of water. Because of this, the Catholic Church in South America decided that it was a fish, and people were allowed to eat it during Lent and First Fridays.

Saber-Toothed Tiger

Canines up to 7 inches long!

Salamander

There are more than 700 different species!

Salmon

Returns upstream every year to spawn

Seahorse

Males give birth to up to 1,000 offspring!

Shrimp

There are 2,000 different species worldwide!

Siberian Husky

Is adequately warm in sub-zero temperatures!

Skunk

Also known as the Polecat!

Snail

There are nearly 1,000 different species!

Snake

There are around 3,000 known species worldwide

Snorkie

Snorkies are known for their funny, attention-getting antics.

Spadefoot Toad

They spend most of their time underground!

Sparrow

There are 140 different species!

Squirrel

Small rodents found in woodlands worldwide!

Stick Insect

There are more than 3,000 different species!

Swan

Populations have been affected by pollution!

Torkie

The Torkie has a soft silky coat

Vulture

There are 30 different species worldwide!

Wasp

There are around 75,000 recognised species!

Weasel

The smallest carnivorous mammal in the world!

Wolf

Thought to date back more than 300,000 years!

Wolf Spider

Carnivorous arachnid that hunts its prey.

Wolverine

Releases a strong smelling musk in defence!

Wood Bison

The reintroduction of wood bison into Alaska is considered one of the world’s best conservation success stories.

Woodlouse

Actually a crustacean, not an insect!

Woodpecker

There are 200 different species!

Yoranian

These dogs are very intelligent and are great with children.

Alaskan Animals List

Animals in Alaska FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What kinds of animals live in Alaska?

Alaska is full of wild mammals, rodents, birds, bears, moose, and assorted other wildlife. They have many of the common species found elsewhere, such as ducks and beavers, but also many that are only found in or near Alaska, like the willow ptarmigan.

Which animal is only found in Alaska?

There are a few rare creatures that are only native to parts of Alaska. This includes the Islands Wolf, the Aleutian Cackling Goose, Kodiak River Otters, Prince of Wales (POW) Spruce Grouse, and the POW Flying Squirrel. Because of their rarity and rising temperatures due to climate change, all of these creatures could be at risk of going extinct.

What part of Alaska has the most wildlife?

Most of Alaska’s wildlife can be found in its National Parks. This is the best place to view them safely. Of the parks, Denali National Park and Preserve are said to be the best places to see native Alaskan species in the wild.

What dangerous animals are in Alaska?

There are several fierce predators common to Alaska, including wolves, polar, black, and grizzly bears, moose, and wolverines. Of these, moose and grizzlies are the most likely to encounter and attack a human.

Are kangaroos in Alaska?

Though kangaroos may travel through from time to time on airplanes and for fair exhibits, kangaroos are not native to Alaska. Kangaroos are found only in Australia.