Indiana, known as the “Hoosier State,” is a midwestern state that is part of the Great Lakes Region. It borders Michigan to the north, Ohio to the east, Illinois to the west, and Kentucky to the South. Its major rivers are the Ohio River, Whitewater River, and Wabash River, which is the longest river east of the Mississippi.
Indiana has a varied topography that includes dense forests, grassland prairies, riverbanks, lakeshores, and rocky hills. Most of the land in Indiana is dedicated to farming. The principal crops are corn, soybeans, wheat, and dairy products. Indiana also has major population centers and many manufacturing industries are based there. It still has wild places, however, and they are home to a healthy population of native wildlife.
Wild Animals in Indiana
Indiana’s forest areas, rivers, and location on the Great Lakes have given it a wide variety of wildlife. It is home to common forest animals like black bears, coyotes, badgers, beavers, and cottontail rabbits. Its rodents include fox squirrels, gray squirrels, and groundhogs. Bison and white-tail deer roam the grasslands, and black bears have a small but stable population in the state.
It has 13 native bat species, including some of the rarest species like Rafineque’s big-eared bat (Corynorhinus rafinesquii), red bat (Lasiurus borealis), silver-haired bat (Lasionycteris noctivagans) and Indiana myotis (Myotis sodalis).
The state has its own native species, including the Allegheny woodrat and the eastern mole. Its strange reptiles and amphibians include the alligator snapping turtle, Blanding’s turtle, and eastern hog-nosed snake.
In the forests and wetlands, it is common to spot herons, ducks, geese, and other waterfowl. You will also hear the western chorus frog and the spring peeper, two frog species known for their charming springtime calls. Among its small mammals are the muskrat, opossum, and raccoon.
Birds native to Indiana include the ruffed grouse, wild turkey, bobwhite quail, and numerous songbirds. It also has one of the country’s rarest kingfishers, the belted kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon), which is the only kingfisher found in the state.
Indiana’s rivers and streams teem with northern pike, striped bass, muskie, gar, and walleye. It is home to the eastern hellbender, a salamander that is one of the rarest amphibians in the world. This salamander with a strange name is also the largest salamander species in North America.
The Official Animal of Indiana
It’s common for states to choose mammals as their official animals, but Indiana chose a bird. In 1933, Indiana adopted the cardinal as its state bird. Native to Indiana, the cardinal lives there year-round. This bright red songbird is also the state bird of Virginia and North Carolina.
Where To Find the Top Wild Animals in Indiana
Although it has a lot of farmland and large industrial cities, Indiana has many state parks and protected areas where its native wildlife thrives.
- Indiana Dunes State Park is a protected stretch of beach along the coast of Lake Michigan. The beach features sand dunes that soar as high as 200 feet. It is an excellent place to see shorebirds and native flowers that include many native orchid varieties.
- Prophetstown State Park is a wetlands and forest preserve on the shoreline of the Rock River. You are likely to see a muskrat, otter or beaver here. White-tail deer, rabbits and ducks also frequent the park.
- Oubache State Park, located along the Wabash River, is a camping area where you can see many animals, including a resident herd of bison in a protected enclosure.
- Tippecanoe River State Park is ideal for nature lovers. Bordering seven scenic miles of the Tippecanoe River, this park allows you to see frogs, newts, squirrels, raccoons, beavers and an enormous variety of waterfowl. Some of the rarest birds have been spotted here, including the swamp sparrow.
- Chain of Lakes State Park is home to nine large lakes and 25 miles of forested trails. It is a wonderful place to fish for Indiana’s native fish species like catfish, white bass and northern pike. You will also see amphibians, reptiles, white-tail deer, bobcats and many small rodents.
- Hovey Lake Fish and Wildlife Area lies between the Ohio and Wabash rivers in southwest Indiana. It is a 7,500-acre park with a lake, swampland and forested areas. It is a good place to see birds and fish. Muskrat dens and beaver dams dot the lakes, and many small mammals and rodents visit the streams to fish and get water.
The Most Dangerous Animals in Indiana Today
Most of Indiana’s animals are not dangerous. Any state with a high population of deer is likely to report many accidents involving deer and drivers. Despite the presence of black bears, bobcats, and coyotes, there have been no recorded attacks of these animals on humans.
Indiana has several snake species, but most of them are harmless to humans. Its venomous snakes are the cottonmouth, copperhead, and timber rattlesnake. These are its most dangerous animals.
Endangered Animals in Indiana
Indiana has over 150 species on its Species of Greatest Conservation Need list.
The list includes the following animals:
- Barn owl (Tyto alba)
- Allegheny woodrat (Neotoma magister)
- Eastern hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis)
- Eastern mud turtle (Kinosternon subrubrum)
- Plains pocket gopher (Geomys bursarius)
- Swamp rabbit (Sylvilagus aquaticus)
- Badger (Taxidea taxus )
As part of its Wildlife Action Plan, the state established the Indiana Nongame Wildlife Fund. Although it is managed by the state’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the fund does not get government money and relies on private donations.
According to the DNR, Indiana citizens have donated more than $13 million to help preserve the state’s endangered animals. The state also receives funding from the US Fish and Wildlife Service to help preserve its most endangered species.
Indiana, like many other states, has taken steps to conserve its natural resources. According to a survey by the Nature conservancy, 90% of Hoosiers of all political parties want the government to take more steps to preserve natural spaces, and 74% support the use of alternative energy sources.
Wildlife Is Alive and Well
The Hoosier State is home to an interesting mix of strange and common animals, including bats, bison, waterfowl, salamanders, and deer. Its beautiful state parks and wilderness areas are good places to see all these animals.
Indianian Animals List
Animals in Indiana FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
What is the apex predator in Indiana?
Coyotes are the state’s apex predators. A highly adaptable carnivore that lives in most states of the country, the coyote is the largest predator in Indiana. Indiana’s other predators are bobcats, gray foxes, and red foxes.
What is Indiana’s state mammal?
Indiana does not have a state mammal. Its official state animal is the cardinal.
Are there big cats in Indiana?
Indiana has bobcats. They are the only big cats in the state.
Does Indiana have cougars?
Indiana does not have a resident cougar population, but cougars sometimes cross over from neighboring states.