Arkansas calls itself “the Natural State,” and it’s easy to see why. Bordered by the Ozark Mountains on one side and the Ouachita Mountains on another, it has breathtaking mountain vistas, deep valleys, and rushing mountain streams. Arkansas has densely forested timberlands and fertile lowlands known for their rich black soil. The lower part of the state is on the Mississippi Delta and the Gulf of Mexico, and its wetlands include cypress swamps, headwater swamps, and slope wetlands.
Although its weather is often described as subtropical, Arkansas has four distinct seasons. It has hot, humid summers, cool falls, dry springs, and snowy winters.
Wild Animals in Arkansas
The state’s low population density, varied topography, and wild landscapes have allowed many native species to thrive here. Arkansas’s mountains and forests are excellent places to see birds and wildlife. There are 400 native bird species and more than 150 butterfly and moth species. You can spot great blue herons, snowy owls, ruby-throated hummingbirds, white ibis, golden-crowned kinglets, and four species of the oriole. Arkansas is home to the red-cockaded woodpecker, one of the rarest endangered birds.
Arkansas has 16 native bat species, including the endangered Rafinesque’s big-eared bat, the hoary bat, and Seminole bat. Many of its animals include mammals and rodents common to most forested states.
Arkansas’s predators include coyotes, gray foxes, red foxes, and bobcats. Among its rodents are 12 mouse species, ground squirrels and the southern flying squirrel. Its small mammals include river otters, shrews, pocket gophers, cottontail rabbits and opossums.
Arkansas has some strange mammals like the nine-banded armadillo and the eastern woodrat. It also has strange rodents you will only find here like the thirteen-lined ground squirrel, the southern bog lemming and the Texas deer mouse.
The state is home to two species of skunk, the eastern spotted skunk and the striped skunk, and several shrew species.
Reptiles and amphibians include the most common types, but they also include some weird species like prairie lizards, Texas horned lizards, bull snakes, eastern garter snakes and Gulf crayfish. Arkansas also has alligators, turtles and geckos.
Elk were once hunted to extinction, but conservation efforts have reintroduced them to the area surrounding the Buffalo National River in northwest Arkansas. Black bears have also retuned to the state after years of absence.
The Official Animal of Arkansas
Arkansas’s official animal is the white-tail deer. This deer is abundant in the state, and game hunting is an important part of the state’s economy. The other popular game animal is the elk.
The state bird is the mockingbird, and the state tree is the pine tree.
Where To Find the Top Wild Animals in Arkansas
- Pinnacle Mountain State Park is a large state park that is also a Trail of Tears National Historic Site. It has 15 miles of hiking and biking trails and river walks. It is an excellent place to see some of the state’s rarest butterflies, moths and birds.
- The Delta Rivers Nature Center, established in 2001, was the state’s first nature center. It displays fish and aquatic animals in a natural setting that duplicates river bottom habitats.
- Hot Springs National Park includes 47 natural thermal springs, 30 miles of hiking trails and a hot water cascade. It is one of the best places to camp in Arkansas and an excellent place to view wildlife and birds.
- Lake Chicot State Park is a protected area surrounding the 20-mile-long Lake Chicot, the largest natural lake in the state.
- Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge is a 459-acre sanctuary for abused and abandoned big cats. The refuge is accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries as an ethical animal tourism destination.
The Most Dangerous Animals in Arkansas Today
Some Arkansans joke that the most dangerous animals in their state are careless, armed game hunters. Jokes aside, Arkansas has some dangerous animals, including alligators and bears, but attacks on humans are rare. The most dangerous animals to humans are the state’s poisonous snakes and spiders.
Endangered Animals in Arkansas
Arkansas has 32 threatened and endangered species. They include:
- Ozark big-eared bat (Corynorhinus tonswendii ingens)
- Ozark cave fish (Troglichthys rosae)
- Ozark hellbender (Crypotbranchus alleganiensis bishop)
- Curtis pearly mussel (Epioblasma curtisi)
- Ivory-billed woodpecker (Campephilus principalis)
- Rattlesnake-master borer moth (Papaipema eryngi)
The Ozark hellbender is a strange animal with an equally weird name. One of the rarest species, this endangered salamander only lives in the mountain streams of the Ozarks. The states of Missouri and Arkansas are working together to preserve the hellbender.
The rattlesnake-master borer moth is one of the rarest moths. It exists in only five states, including Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, North Carolina and Oklahoma. The moth gets its strange name from its dependence on the rattlesnake-master, a prairie plant that is its only food source.
Other Animals in Arkansas
Animals Are Wild in the Natural State
Arkansas is a state with varying landscapes and a large variety of both weird and common animals. It is an excellent place to see animals in their natural state.
More Articles Related to Arkansas
- extinct animals that lived in Arkansas.
- the amazing waterfalls in Arkansas.
- the best fishing spots in Arkansas this summer.
- the best national parks in Arkansas.
- the types of hawks in Arkansas.
Arkansan Animals List
- Albino (Amelanistic) Corn Snake
- American Eel
- Banded Water Snake
- Corn Snake
- De Kay’s Brown Snake
- Eastern Fence Lizard
- Eastern Glass Lizard
- Eastern Hognose Snake
- Eastern Woodrat
- Fox Squirrel
- Giant Desert Centipede
- Groundhog (Woodchuck)
- Milk Snake
- Orb Weaver
- Polyphemus moth
- Rat Snakes
- Red-Bellied Woodpecker
- Red-Shouldered Hawk
- Rough Earth Snake
- Rough Green Snake
- Smokybrown Cockroach
- Southern Black Racer
- Texas Rat Snake
- Western Diamondback Rattlesnake
- Western Rat Snake
Animals in Arkansas FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
What animal is Arkansas known for?
Arkansas was once nicknamed “the Bear State,” but black bears almost became extinct from overhunting. Today, black bears have been successfully reintroduced and have a stable population in the state.
What animal predators are in Arkansas?
Arkansas’s biggest predators are alligators, wolves and bobcats.
What is the largest animal in Arkansas?
Alligators, elks and black bears are the biggest animals in the state.
What animals are in northwest Arkansas?
Elk are the main animals you’ll see in northwest Arkansas. They live mostly along the Buffalo National River, and you can see large herds of these magnificent animals grazing there.
The Boxley Valley has a large mill pond that is home to water turtles and trumpet swans. Big Piney Wildlife Management Area is home to bald eagles and other rare birds.