The state of Oregon in the United States has an incredible variety of different biomes, from mountains to deserts to areas of thick forest. This is part of the reason why the state is home to such a varied collection of wildlife. Along with the 139 species of mammals in the state, there are four species of mammals native to Oregon and not found anywhere else. These four include Baird’s shrew, the Pacific shrew, Cama’s pocket gopher, and the red tree vole.
Some of the most well-known animals in Oregon include elk, black bears, burrowing owls, gray wolves, and beavers.
The Official Animal of Oregon
In 1969, the American beaver (Castor canadensis) became the official animal of the state of Oregon. Of course, the beaver is a common sight in the state. But these mammals also serve a specific purpose in helping the environment. Their habitat includes rivers, streams, and lakes where they build intricate dams. These dams slow down water flow which creates floodplains and ponds. These new floodplains and ponds serve as habitats for other animals. Also, beaver dams cut down on excessive soil erosion that can harm the environment.
Additionally, the official nickname for Oregon is The Beaver State, as these creatures have always been vital for the commerce and development of this territory. When Oregon was first being settled, the trade of beaver fur was the most profitable industry for the local economy. As time went on and beaver fur went out of fashion, these animals still maintain a place of importance in the Oregonian identity.
Where to Find the Top Wild Animals in Oregon
A lot of the wildlife in Oregon resides near the Willamette River. Some of the mammals visitors can see on this river include beavers, black-tailed deer, minks, and otters. A variety of fish are native to the Willamette River including rainbow trout, walleye, crappie, and catfish among many others.
The desert region of Oregon is home to a lot of well-known wild animals as well. A few of the mammals living there include mule deer, cottontail rabbits, elks, red foxes, and cougars. Some of the birds that inhabit the desert include yellow warblers, sage grouse, quail, swallows, and western meadowlarks. Desert rodents include the Ord’s kangaroo rat, canyon mouse, and the California vole.
The Oregon forests are full of wildlife such as the black bear, coyote, western toad, Douglas squirrel, mountain lion, hoary bat, western rattlesnake, and the northern spotted owl just to name a few!
You may spot some of these animals as you hike one of the many breathtaking mountains of Oregon from the Cascade mountain range. Some recommended locations in Oregon to observe wildlife include:
- Silver Falls State Park
- Oswald West State Park
- Sarah Helmick State Park
- Champoeg State Park
- Harris Beach State Park
- Clearwater Park
Where to Visit Zoos in Oregon
Visiting zoos in the state of Oregon is a great way to see native wildlife and other strange and interesting animals that are not native to the state. Many local species are also protected due to the destruction of their habitat by humans, so they are best encountered in a setting where they’ve been raised in captivity. Below you can find a list of all the best Oregonian zoos:
Oregon’s Largest Animal
American bison may no longer roam the plains freely in Oregon as they once did before the land was settled, but they are still a popular farm animal in the state. Bison ranches can be found all across the state of Oregon. These massive creatures are not easily contained by a fence, and some estimates claim as many as 2,000 escaped bison could be grazing throughout Oregon’s forests surrounding the base of the Wallowa mountains.
Bison can stand up to 6 feet tall and measure over 12 feet in length. On average bison weigh around 1,000 to 2,000 lbs depending on their gender, and their calves can weigh up to 70 lbs after birth. This makes them not only the biggest creatures in Oregon but the largest land mammals in the United States.
The Most Dangerous Animals in Oregon Today
Just like any other state, Oregon has its share of dangerous wildlife and fierce predators. Anyone visiting the state should be aware of them and remember to treat all animals with respect. Check out the most dangerous animals in Oregon today.
- Mountain lions also called cougars are found throughout the state of Oregon but are especially plentiful in the Blue Mountains. These agile predators grow to three feet tall and males can weigh up to 220 pounds. Mountain lions are apt to move away from humans and hide to avoid an encounter. But they can become aggressive especially when humans approach their cubs or their den. These are strong, fast animals with the power to seriously injure a human. However, death is the rarest result of an encounter with a mountain lion. In fact, only one death due to a mountain lion attack has been recorded in the past 20 years.
- Western rattlesnakes are also on the list of dangerous animals living in Oregon. They are venomous and can grow as long as five feet. As predators, their venom is powerful enough to kill their prey of rodents and amphibians. But it is not deadly to most healthy humans. In some cases, the snake doesn’t release venom when it bites a human. This is a strange occurrence called a dry bite. This snake knows it can’t eat a human, so it doesn’t want to waste its venom. Makes good sense! However, this snake’s bite is painful and does require medical treatment.
- Black widow spiders are also dangerous animals living in Oregon. These are venomous spiders that live around people in the basements or garages of homes. A bite from this spider can affect a person’s nervous system causing fever, tremors, sweating, and other symptoms. Fortunately, the amount of venom released isn’t enough to kill a human, but a black widow spider bite does require medical attention. In 2018, there were a little over 1,000 black widow spider bites reported with no resulting deaths. Bites from this spider usually occur when someone reaches into a dark corner of a basement or garage and accidentally disturbs the spider’s web. Otherwise, this arachnid stays hidden from view most of the time.
Endangered Animals in Oregon
Oregon endangered (or vulnerable) animals include:
- Oregon silverspot butterfly – Since 1980, there’s been a decrease in the population of this rust brown butterfly with its distinctive silver spots. Its population has decreased due to habitat destruction.
- Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly – This black butterfly has a memorable orange and white checkered pattern on its wings. Its population has been decreasing due to the loss of habitat.
- Short-tailed Albatross (Vulnerable) – This seabird with a strange, curved beak and huge wingspan is categorized as vulnerable. These birds become entangled in commercial fishing nets and die as a result. This has greatly decreased their population.
- Lost River Sucker – This fish was first categorized as endangered in 1988. Water pollution and loss of habitat are both reasons for the decrease in population.
- Oregon Giant Earthworm – One of the rarest earthworms, the Oregon Giant earthworm is usually found in the Willamette Valley. Habitat loss is the reason for their decrease in population.
Rarest Animal in Oregon
The Oregonian creature to suffer the most from the exponentially increasing human population of the region is most likely the Canada Lynx. These incredibly evasive and shy felines do all they can to avoid human interaction in the area, as their habitat in the area has been utterly devastated by the local logging industry. While their numbers are not as concerning in their namesake Canada, these lynxes have only been seen in Oregon a handful of times in the past 30 years.
Native Plants in Oregon
The state of Oregon features dense evergreen and mixed forests, semi-arid shrublands, and high deserts! The state is home to a wide variety of plants. Some native plants in Oregon include bigleaf maple, Oregon grape, and canyon gooseberry, among others.
One specialized breed of blackberry, known as the marionberry, is grown almost exclusively in Oregon. The harvesting season of July and August is a great time to taste these delicious local delicacies in the form of some famous marionberry syrup or jam.
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Oregonian Animals List
- Admiral Butterfly
- Anna’s Hummingbird
- Blue Belly Lizard
- Bull Trout
- California Kingsnake
- Cinnamon Bear
- Common Yellowthroat
- Dire Wolf
- Dungeness Crab
- Kokanee Salmon
- MacGillivray’s Warbler
- Milk Snake
- Mountain Beaver
- Ocean Perch
- Orb Weaver
- Pink Salmon
- Polyphemus Moth
- Rat Snakes
- Rufous Hummingbird
- Sandhill Crane
- Smallmouth Bass
- Smokybrown Cockroach
- Swallowtail Butterfly
- White Sturgeon
- Yellowish Cuckoo Bumblebee (formerly Fernald’s Cuckoo Bumblebee)
Animals in Oregon FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
What kind of animals does Oregon have?
Oregon has a variety of mammals, fish, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. Some of its most well-known animals include elk, beavers, black bear, mountain lions, otters, hoary bats, Pacific shrew, brush rabbits, western toads, coastal tailed frogs, western painted turtles and western rattlesnakes and quail.
The burrowing owl is another notable wild animal in Oregon. Oftentimes, these owls live in burrows and tunnels created by ground squirrels. Of course, if none are available, these owls are experts at burrowing their own tunnels. These owls are unique in that they move around during the daytime.
What kind of dangerous animals live in Oregon?
Dangerous animals living in Oregon include mountain lions, western rattlesnakes, and black widow spiders. Fortunately, death is the rarest result of a human’s encounter with any of these animals.
What spiders are in Oregon?
Oregon is home to dozens of spider species, with a difference in species between its coastal regions and the eastern half of the state. Spiders in the state include mouse spiders, western black widows, giant crab spiders, giant house spiders, and long-palped ant mimic sac spiders.
What is the most common animal in Oregon?
The most common animal living in Oregon is the American beaver. Beavers are the biggest rodents in North America. Scientists estimate the population of the beaver in Oregon at between 10 and 50 million.
Do sharks live off the coast of Oregon?
Yes, there are sharks off the Oregon Coast. Shark attacks are very rare, but they do happen. Check out 7 Oregon areas with the most shark attacks.