Kansas is a midwestern state that borders Missouri to the east, Colorado to the west, Oklahoma to the south, and Nebraska to the north. The terrain is mostly flat land with a few gently rolling hills, but there are some rocky cliffs and dense forests in the eastern part of the state. Nicknamed the “Sunflower State,” Kansas has four distinct seasons, with hot, humid summers and severely cold winters. Its major rivers are the Missouri River, Smoky Hill River, and Arkansas River.
More than 90% of Kansas’s land is dedicated to farming. The principal farm product is wheat, but Kansas also farms soybeans, cotton, corn, and sheep. Its non-farmed areas are a mix of short and tall grass prairies.
Wild Animals in Kansas
Beavers are also native to the state. After being hunted almost to extinction, beavers now have a healthy population in the state. You can see beavers and beaver dams on almost any stream in Kansas.
The Official Animal of Kansas
The state’s official animal is the bison (Bison bison). This huge beast was once extinct in the state, but it has been successfully reintroduced in recent years.
Where to Find the Top Wild Animals in Kansas
Although most of Kansas is farmland, the state has some wild areas and conservation projects that have helped conserve its unique ecosystems. Kansas has 28 state parks and several wildlife conservation areas.
- The Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve protects 11,000 acres of tallgrass prairie. Tallgrass prairie once covered 150 million acres of North America, and it was the primary grazing ground for bison and other native animals. Fewer than 4% of the country’s remaining prairies are tallgrass, and most of the remaining tallgrass is in Kansas. The preserve is the “last stand” for this important ecosystem. It is an ideal place to see bison, owls, eastern meadowlarks, coyotes, badgers and bobcats.
- Quivira National Wildlife Refuge is a large preserve that protects 34 wetlands areas, extensive marshland and 13,000 acres of sand dunes covered with prairie grasses. Another 1,500 acres are wooded. It is considered a wetlands preserve of international importance. More than 340 bird species have been spotted at Quivira. You can see some of the country’s rarest shorebirds, including whooping cranes, snowy plovers, least terns, American white pelicans, and Swainson’s hawks. It’s also a good place to see butterflies, dragonflies, muskrats and raccoons. White-tail deer frequently visit the streams inside the refuge. If you’re looking for rodents, you can spot squirrels, eastern wood rats and pocket gophers.
- The American Birding Association has named Cimarron National Grassland as one of the top 100 places for birding in the U.S. The American Bird Conservancy named it a Globally Important Bird Area. The Cimarron Grassland includes 110,000 acres of short prairie grasses. Cliffs, rivers and lakes punctuate the long, grassy stretches. It is a good place for wildlife watching, and it is one of the best places to see lesser prairie chickens. The Grassland is also an important breeding site for long-billed curlews, vesper sparrows, mountain plovers and golden eagles. You may also see elk, antelopes, coyotes and small mammals. It’s also common to see reptiles and amphibians, including the spadefoot toad, Great Plains toads, ornate box turtle and northern earless lizard.
Under the Conservation Reserve Program, some Kansas ranchers and farmers have created refuges for lesser prairie chickens. Some of them allow visits by bird watchers who want to see some of the rarest birds in the world.
The Most Dangerous Animals in Kansas Today
Although Kansas has some fierce predators, these animals are not dangerous to humans. The most dangerous animals you’ll find are snakes, spiders, and insects.
- Spiders: Kansas has black widow spiders, hobo spiders and brown recluse spiders.
- Snakes: Copperheads and prairie rattlesnakes both live in Kansas.
- Ticks: These disease-carrying parasites live in the wooded areas of Kansas. They are dangerous because of the diseases they carry. It’s common to find them on domestic and wild animals.
The lesser prairie chicken is a native wild bird that is critically endangered in Kansas, New Mexico, and Texas, which are its native states. A member of the grouse family, this striped, lovely bird was once abundant in the country’s prairies. The conversion of farmland has reduced its numbers by more than 90%.
The state’s Conservation Reserve Program has converted thousands of acres of cropland into native grasses to help save lesser prairie chickens. While this effort has increased their populations, the bird remains endangered.
Kansas has other endangered animals, including:
- Eastern spotted skunk (Spilogate putorius)
- Gray bat (Myotis grisescens)
- Pallid sturgeon (Scaphirhynchus albus)
- Least tern (Sterna antiallarum)
- Whooping crane (Grus americana)
- Mucket mussel (Actinonaias ligamentina)
- Cave salamander (Eurycea lucifuga)
- Strecker’s chorus frog (Pseudacris)
Bison and Sunflowers
Kansas has a wide variety of animals that range from large bison to medium-sized mammals and tiny rodents. Although much of the state is farmland, it still has wild, unspoiled areas, including grasslands and wetlands ecosystems that are unique in the world.
Kansan Animals List
Animals in Kansas FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
What animals live in Kansas?
The most common wild animals include forest creatures like deer, beavers, raccoons, opossums, and rodents. Its largest predators are coyotes, bobcats, and foxes. Kansas has a small but stable population of American bison. The state has a high number of birds, including migratory birds who stop there on their way south. Kansas does not have many strange or exotic animals.
What is the Kansas state mammal?
The bison is Kansas’s official state mammal.
Are there wolves in Kansas?
There are no wolves in Kansas. The last confirmed report of a gray wolf in the state was in 2012.
What animal is endangered in Kansas?
The lesser prairie chicken is one of the rarest birds in the world. It is native to Kansas, New Mexico, and Texas, and it is critically endangered in all those states.
Black bears once lived in Kansas, but they are now extinct in the state. Occasionally, black bears may wander into Kansas from neighboring states, but there is no resident population of them.
Why is Kansas called the “Sunflower State”?
That’s not a strange nickname when you consider that Kansas is a major producer of crop sunflowers. These crop sunflowers are not the same as the wild sunflower (Helianthus annuus) that is the official state flower.