Animals in Arkansas

Updated: November 13, 2022
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Arkansas is a southern state with a population of about 3 million. It borders Texas and Oklahoma to the east, Louisiana to the south, and Mississippi and Tennessee to the west.

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.

Snakes: Arkansas has copperhead snakes, timber rattlesnakes, and the western banded rattlesnake.
Spiders: Arkansas is home to the venomous brown recluse spider.

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.

Read about:

Arkansan Animals

Albino (Amelanistic) Corn Snake

Albino corn snakes great beginner snakes.

American Eel

Don't eat raw eel! Their blood is poisonous to humans when consumed raw.

Armyworm

They are so named because they "march" in armies of worms from one crop to another in search of food

Corn Snake

Corn snakes are partly arboreal and are excellent climbers.

De Kay’s Brown Snake

They have specialized jaws for removing snails from shells.

Eastern Fence Lizard

Females are usually larger than males.

Eastern Glass Lizard

When the glass lizard loses its tail it can grow another one. But the new tail lacks the markings of the old one and is usually shorter.

Eastern Hognose Snake

Eastern hognose snakes are venomous, but only to frogs and toads.

Eastern Woodrat

The eastern woodrat mating ritual involves a potentially deadly fight between the male and female before reproduction begins!

Flea

Adult fleas can jump up to 7 inches in the air

Fox Squirrel

Although it is a tree squirrel, it spends most of its time on the ground.

Giant Desert Centipede

They are the largest centipede in North America

Groundhog (Woodchuck)

They whistle to each other to warn of approaching danger!

Jackrabbit

They can run as fast as 45 mph.

Mealybug

They have a symbiotic relationship with ants.

Orb Weaver

Females are about four times the size of males

Owl

The owl can rotate its head some 270 degrees

Polyphemus moth

The Polyphemus moth doesn’t eat.

Rat Snakes

Rat snakes are constrictors from the Colubridae family of snakes.

Red-Bellied Woodpecker

Red-Bellied Woodpeckers will often steal the nests of other birds.

Red-Shouldered Hawk

Red-Shouldered Hawks reuse the same nesting area each year.

Rooster

Will mate with the entire flock!

Rough Earth Snake

It has a pointed snout that is uses to burrow into moist soil.

Smokybrown Cockroach

Has up to 45 eggs per egg case

Southern Black Racer

These snakes live underground, beneath piles of leaf litter or in thickets, and they are expert swimmers.

Texas Rat Snake

The Texas rat snake is one of the most common subspecies of the western rat snake in the wild.

Western Diamondback Rattlesnake

They replace their fangs 2-4 times per year!

Western Rat Snake

Western rat snakes have special scales on their belly that help them climb up trees.

Arkansan Animals List

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About the Author

AZ Animals is a growing team of animals experts, researchers, farmers, conservationists, writers, editors, and -- of course -- pet owners who have come together to help you better understand the animal kingdom and how we interact.

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.