Animals in Kansas

Updated: November 18, 2022
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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

Kansas has most of the animals common to other U.S. states. Its many bird species include bluebirds, red-tailed hawks, great blue herons, bald eagles, and great horned owls.

Its predators include coyotes, bobcats, and foxes. Some of its small mammals are prairie dogs, opossums, muskrats, cottontail rabbits, and raccoons.

Rodents native to Kansas include mice, pocket gophers, and groundhogs. One strange fact about Kansas is that it only has one species of squirrel, the eastern fox squirrel.

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.

Endangered 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.

Read about:

Kansan Animals

American Eel

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


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

Burrowing Owl

The burrowing owl lives in underground burrows

Common Yellowthroat

The Common Yellowthroat stays close to the ground and uses stealth to survive!

De Kay’s Brown Snake

They have specialized jaws for removing snails from shells.


Their long tales could have been used as a whip!

Eastern Hognose Snake

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


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

Grass Snake

Use acute hearing to hunt

Groundhog (Woodchuck)

They whistle to each other to warn of approaching danger!

Kentucky Warbler

The Kentucky Warbler appears to wear bright yellow cat-eye glasses!

King Snake

King Snakes eat other types of snakes.


The name “Massasauga” comes from the Chippewa language, meaning “Great River Mouth”.


They have a symbiotic relationship with ants.

Orb Weaver

Females are about four times the size of males


The owl can rotate its head some 270 degrees

Polyphemus moth

The Polyphemus moth doesn’t eat.

Prairie Chicken

They inflate their orange neck patches during their mating displays

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.


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

Smooth Earthsnake

Valeria Biddle Blaney (1828-1900) collected the first specimen in Maryland.

Texas Garter Snake

If you handle one of the snakes, it will defensively emit a foul-smelling musk that can get on your hands and other surfaces and permeate your home.

Texas Night Snake

The Texas night snake has vertical pupils to help it see better at night.

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.

Kansan 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 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. Many snake species, including garter snakes, live in Kansas. 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.

What national and state parks are in Kansas?

Kansas is home to a number of parks that include National Historic Sites, National Preserves, and Kansas State Parks. A few options include the Fort Larned National Historic Site, Tallgrass National Preserve, and Kanopolis State Park.

What spiders live in Kansas?

Some of the most common spiders in Kansas include:

  • Black-footed yellow sac spider
  • Garden ghost spider
  • Bark crab spider
  • Labyrinth orb weaver
  • Texas brown tarantula
  • Dotted wolf spider
  • Flimsy dome spider
  • Puritan pirate spider
  • Prairie jumping spider
  • Quasi-social cobweb spider