Animals in Arkansas



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 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 wolves, but attacks on humans are rare. The most dangerous animals to humans are the state’s poisonous snakes and spiders.

Snakes: Arkansas has 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.

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.

Arkansan Animals

Armyworm

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

Eastern Fence Lizard

Females are usually larger than males.

Groundhog (Woodchuck)

They whistle to each other to warn of approaching danger!

Mealybug

They have a symbiotic relationship with ants.

Orb Weaver

Females are about four times the size of males

Polyphemus moth

The Polyphemus moth doesn’t eat.

Arkansan Animals List

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.