Animals in Texas

Home to 29 million people, Texas is the largest state in the country. Known as the place where everything is big, it encompasses more than 260,000 square miles of terrain that varies from mountain forests to extensive coastline.

Texas has more than 800 different habitat types. This greatly diverse terrain gives rise to a tremendous variety of native and endemic wildlife. The list of Texas’s native and introduced animals includes 540 species of bird and 142 species of mammals, amphibians, and other animals.

Texas is proud to call itself “the battiest state in the nation.” It is home to 32 of the 47 species of bats native to the U.S.

Texas’s big predators include wolves, cougars, and ocelots. Among its rodents are pocket gophers, tree squirrels, porcupines, and nutria.

The state’s wooded areas are home to common forest mammals like bobcats, badgers, and black bears. Its birds include kestrels, owls, and eagles. In the mountain areas, you’ll find river otters, flying squirrels and red-shouldered hawks. The arid desert stretches are home to many of the world’s rarest amphibians and reptiles. The nine-banded armadillo, Texas rat snake and short-lined skink lizard are some of the weird critters you will find there.

Texas is home to the Northern black-bellied whistling duck, the Gulf stone crab and the Texas blind salamander.

Texas has over 350 miles of coastline. This includes South Padre Island, which is the world’s largest barrier island. The shoreline is home to many marine animals, including fiddler crabs, roseate spoonbills, alligators and sea turtles.

The Official Animal of Texas

Texas has three official state animals.

  • Nine-banded armadillo: This strange, nocturnal animal (Dasypus novemcinctus) inhabits forests, grasslands and dry scrub deserts. It is the most widespread of the armadillo species and is listed as “least concern” for conservation status.
  • Texas longhorn: This breed of cattle is famous for its long horns that can extend more than 2 feet across. Once a popular breed in Texas, longhorns fell out of popularity in the early 1900s. They were saved from extinction when biologists from the U.S. Forest Service established longhorn sanctuaries in Texas. Today, you can see them at various nature preserves throughout the state.
  • Mexican free-tailed bat: Sometimes called the Brazilian free-tailed bat, this medium-sized bat (Tadarida brasiliensis) is native to the Americas. Mexican free-tailed bats are abundant in North America, Central America and parts of South America.

Where To Find The Top Wild Animals in Texas

Texas has many activities devoted to birding and wildlife watching.

Bird City Texas is a statewide program that encourages birders of all levels and in all parts of the state to create bird sanctuaries and feeding spaces. Wildlife and birding tours frequently take visitors to places where they can see egrets, tanagers, whooping cranes, kingfishers, green parakeets, chachalacas, elf owls and many of the country’s rarest birds.

With more than 20 million roosting Mexican free-tailed bats, Bracken Cave Preserve, near San Antonio, is the largest bat colony in the world. Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin is the country’s largest urban bat colony. There are many official bat watching sites in the state. There are many other places to see bats in Texas, including Clarity Tunnel in Caprock Canyons State Park and the Ecker James River Bat Cave Preserve.

Some of Texas’s bats include the Mexican long-nosed bat (Leptonycteris nivalis), big brown bat (Eptesicus fuscus), Western mastiff bat (Eumops perotis) and Southern yellow bat (Lasiurus ega).

Sea Turtle, Inc., is a sea turtle rescue in South Padre Island that was originally formed to preserve the Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle. The sanctuary now has a hatchling release program that is open to the public.

Prairie Dog Town is a sanctuary for black-tailed prairie dogs (Cynomys ludovicianus) that was established in 1936 by a Lubbock, Texas, man who was worried that nearby atomic poisoning would kill the rodents. The city has maintained the sanctuary ever since. Prairie dogs are considered a keystone species, meaning that many members of the same ecosystem depend on them for the proper ecological balance.

Tiger Creek Animal Sanctuary in Tyler, Texas, is a sanctuary for exotic big cats that were bought as pets and then abandoned, abused or neglected.

Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge is an ideal place to see birds and wildlife while hiking, swimming and biking.

What Wild Animals Can You Find in Texas?

You can find almost any type of animal you’re looking for. The list includes animals that are hard to see in other states, including alligators, sea turtles and dolphins. It has some weird animals like the ghost-faced bat and the Texas horned lizard.

Texas is known for its big ranches. In fact, it has more cattle than any other state.

One of the rarest animals in Texas is the ringtail. Ringtails are about the size of a cat and have long, raccoon-like tails. These nocturnal animals are excellent at catching mice, and they were called “miner’s cats” because many miners adopted them as pets. The ringtails helped clear the mines of rats, and the miners kept the ringtails safe. Today, it is illegal to keep a wild ringtail as a pet.

Are There Any Animals That Are Only Found in Texas?

Texas has some strange animals that you’ll only find here:

  • Black-tailed jack rabbit (Lepus californicus).
  • Texas horned lizard.
  • Lightning whelk.
  • Black-tailed prairie dog.

Big on Nature

Texas is a big state with an abundance of animals. All the most common animals you find in most states live here, and so do some of the rarest species in the world. From the common to the strange, there is tremendous diversity here. National parks, animal sanctuaries, and wildlife tours are the best ways to see these weird and wonderful critters.

Texan Animals

Armyworm

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

Texan Animals List

Animals in Texas FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What Kind of Animals Live in Texas?

Many people think of dry scrub desert when they think of Texas, but the state has a varied terrain with many different ecosystems.

You can find common forest mammals like bears, rodents and badgers in the woods. The scrublands are home to strange lizards, and the coastlines teem with sea turtles, whales, sharks and sport fish. Armadillos, bats and longhorn cattle are all weird but iconic Texan animals. Most animals that live in other states also live in Texas.

What Wild Animals Can You Find in Texas?

You can find almost any type of animal you’re looking for. The list includes animals that are hard to see in other states, including alligators, sea turtles and dolphins. It has some weird animals like the ghost-faced bat and the Texas horned lizard.

Texas is known for its big ranches. In fact, it has more cattle than any other state.

One of the rarest animals in Texas is the ringtail. Ringtails are about the size of a cat and have long, raccoon-like tails. These nocturnal animals are excellent at catching mice, and they were called “miner’s cats” because many miners adopted them as pets. The ringtails helped clear the mines of rats, and the miners kept the ringtails safe. Today, it is illegal to keep a wild ringtail as a pet.

Are There Any Animals That Are Only Found in Texas?

Texas has some strange animals that you’ll only find here:

  • Black-tailed jack rabbit (Lepus californicus).
  • Texas horned lizard.
  • Lightning whelk.
  • Black-tailed prairie dog.