Animals in Tennessee

There are fantastic opportunities to see rare, strange, and native animals in their native habitats at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, numerous state parks, wildlife management areas, and zoos in Tennessee. There are more than 75 species of mammals, including many native ones, in the state, including black bears, elk, cougars, and bobcats. You may also see strange creatures, like the American beaver, American mink, and big brown bats.

The Official Animal of Tennessee

The raccoon is the official wild animal of Tennessee. Besides Tennessee, these furry creatures live in many other areas globally, including North America, Europe, and Japan. These mammals are often considered strange because of the unique black circles around their eyes.

Tennessee has two official state fish. The official sports fish is the smallmouth bass. In addition to Tennessee, smallmouth bass can be found in many U.S. states and Canada.

The official commercial fish of Tennessee is the channel catfish. Catfish live on every continent in the world, except Antarctica. It is considered commercial fish because they are raised on farms in the state and shipped worldwide.

The official horse of Tennessee is the Tennessee walking horse. This breed was developed in the center part of Tennessee about 1790.

Tennesse has three state insects. They are the lightning bug, ladybug, and honey bee. The zebra swallowtail is the state butterfly.

The state amphibian is the Tennessee cave salamander. The IUCN lists this species as threatened because of habitat destruction.

Where To Find The Top Wild Animals in Tennessee

Tennessee’s state and national parks are great places to see wild mammals, insects, and reptiles in Tennessee. Over 84 areas have been set aside in the state as natural areas, and they can be great places to see wildlife, including black bears, badgers, cougars, deer, and bobcats. Most wild creatures in Tennessee are not dangerous. Many species of hawks can be found in Tennessee too.

Another great option is to go to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. While you may see some badger and bobcat tracks if you go hiking, there are unique opportunities at this park to see rare creatures. Wildlife officials estimate that there are two bears per square mile of this park. In addition, you may see other creatures, including white-tailed deer, black bears, raccoons, wild turkeys, and woodchucks.

Many species of spiders can also be found in the state of Tennessee.

Besides the Great Smoky Mountains, other places you may want to see wild animals include:

Top Zoos in Tennessee

A great way to see wild creatures in Tennessee is to visit zoos. You are likely to see creatures from nearby, like bobcats and badgers, along with ones from far away, like penguins and zebras. You can see rare ones that are hard to see in the wild by visiting zoos. Consider visiting these zoos where you can see a variety of creatures from mammals to rodents:

In addition to zoos, Tennessee is also home to a number of world-class aquariums including Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga and Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies.

The Most Dangerous Animals in Tennessee Today

The most dangerous animal in Tennessee today is the dog. Approximately 292 dog bite claims each year.

Most snakes in Tennessee are beneficial, but four species of snakes are venomous. They are the timber rattlesnake, pygmy rattlesnake, cottonmouth, and copperhead. Ratsnakes can be found in Tennessee, but they are not venomous.

People can have deadly encounters with black widows and brown recluse spiders.

Endangered Animals in Tennessee

While there are many common wild animals in Tennessee, there are others that are endangered. Be sure to do everything that you can to help protect the approximately 70 species of endangered animals that live in the state. Endangered animals living in Tennessee include:

  • Piping plovers – This small gray-and-white bird migrates through the state occasionally on its route from the Great Lakes Region to the Gulf Coast.
  • Freshwater mussels – At least six species of freshwater mussels that live along the Tennessee River are endangered.
  • Pygmy madtom – The pygmy madtom is a rare fish, which is the smallest member of the catfish family.
  • Indiana bats – These small mammals live in caves.
  • Gray bats – These mammals that measure about 5 inches in length and have an 11-inch wingspan live in caves are endemic to the U.S.
  • Carolina Northern flying squirrel – These endangered rodents grow to be about 12-inches long. These rodents live on the highest peaks of the Appalachian Mountains. These rodents eat lichen, fruit, and nuts.
  • Obey crayfish – This endangered animal is so rare that it only lives in Tennessee. While there are 78 species of crayfish living in Tennessee, this one may soon go extinct because of polluted water runoff.

Read about:

Tennessean Animals

Albino (Amelanistic) Corn Snake

Albino corn snakes great beginner snakes.


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

Corn Snake

Corn snakes are partly arboreal and are excellent climbers.

De Kay’s Brown Snake

They have specialized jaws for removing snails from shells.

Eastern Fence Lizard

Females are usually larger than males.

Eastern Glass Lizard

When the glass lizard loses its tail it can grow another one. But the new tail lacks the markings of the old one and is usually shorter.

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.

Groundhog (Woodchuck)

They whistle to each other to warn of approaching danger!


They can run as fast as 45 mph.

King Snake

King Snakes eat other types of snakes.


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.

Rat Snakes

Rat snakes are constrictors from the Colubridae family of snakes.

Red-Shouldered Hawk

Red-Shouldered Hawks reuse the same nesting area each year.


Will mate with the entire flock!

Smokybrown Cockroach

Has up to 45 eggs per egg case

Southern Black Racer

These snakes live underground, beneath piles of leaf litter or in thickets, and they are expert swimmers.

Tennessean Animals List

Animals in Tennessee FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What Kind of Animals Live in Tennessee?

Many different types of animals live in Tennessee. Depending on where you are, you may see bobcats, bears, red-and-gray foxes, coyotes, elk and deer. You may also see a variety of farm animals, like cows, pigs and horses. You may also find animals, like dogs and cats, living inside Tennessee homes.

What is the Most Dangerous Animal in Tennessee?

The most dangerous animal living in Tennessee is the dog because of the number of dog bites. There are also four species of snake and two species of venomous spiders

Are There Wolves in Tennessee?

No, there are no wolves in Tennessee. Historically, the only wolf to have lived in Tennessee is the red wolf. You may be able to see wolves in Tennessee zoos.

Are Grizzly Bears in Tennessee?

No, there are no grizzly bears outside of zoos in Tennessee. The black bear is the only known bear species in the state.