Animals in Texas

Home to 29 million people, Texas is one of the largest states in the country by both population and land mass. The colloquialism that ‘everything is bigger in Texas’ is fitting, as 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.

Dangerous Animals in Texas

Texas is a large state with abundant wildlife, so its not surprising it would have its fair share of venomous and dangerous creatures. The most dangerous animals in Texas include:

  • Snakes: Texas is home to several venomous snakes that include cottonmouths, copperheads, numerous rattlesnakes, and coral snakes. It is also home to some kingsnakes. Read about the poisonous snakes in Texas here. You can also learn about when snakes come out here.
  • Cattle: Yes, believe it or not, cattle lead to far more deadly incidents than most other animals
  • Alligators: The last fatal alligator attack happened in Texas in 2008, they are rare, but the state does have alligators.
  • Sharks: Texas has the longest barrier isalnd in the world and sharks are present in its waters. Great water sharks have recently been recorded outside Texas’ shores and bull sharks are also present.
  • Feral hogs: Feral hogs have causes fatalities in the past and can be dangerous.
  • Spiders: There are two species of venomous spiders in Texas; the black widow and the brown recluse. To read about spiders in Texas check out 10 Spiders in Texas or the largest spider in Texas.

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.

Mountains in Texas

Texas has more than 2,000 hills, peaks, and mountains. Most of its largest mountains can be found in West Texas in the Davis, Guadalupe, and Franklin Mountains can be found. The highest point in Texas is Guadalupe Peak, which rises to 8,751 feet above sea level.

In the mountains of Texas, you can find animals like black bears, mountain lions, porcupines, mule deer, barn owls, bobcats, elk, and more! For a complete look at some of the most incredible mountains in Texas, make sure to read ‘10 Breathtaking Mountains and Hikes in Texas.

Rivers in Texas

Texas is home to a number of rivers that flow across the state and often into the Gulf of Mexico. The largest rivers in Texas include the Red River, which is 1,360 miles in length and is heavy in salt. Another major river is the Brazos River, which stretches 1,280 miles from its headwaters in New Mexico.

The largest river in Texas is the Rio Grande which stretches 1,896 miles to the Gulf of Mexico. The rivers in Mexico support a number of unique species, such as the Brazos water snake.

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.

Read about:

Texan Animals

Armyworm

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

Black Witch Moth

Some folklore associate Black Witch Moths with bad luck (and even death!), while other associates them with good fortune.

Blue Catfish

It's a strong fighter when caught on a fishing line

Burrowing Owl

The burrowing owl lives in underground burrows

Cactus Moth

Cactus moths can cause serious damage to cacti in locations where they have no predators.

Cactus Mouse

In hot temperatures, they lower their metabolism and become inactive to reduce the amount of water they need to survive

Cat-Eyed Snake

Evidence indicates that females can delay fertilization and store sperm for later years to produce eggs even in the absence of contact with a male!

Checkered Garter Snake

It has the ability to expel a stinky liquid from its body as a way to make predators (and humans) retreat!

Coachwhip Snake

Coachwhip snakes pose little danger to people

Corn Snake

Corn snakes are partly arboreal and are excellent climbers.

Desert Kingsnake

The desert kingsnake rolls over and plays dead when it feels threatened.

Eastern Woodrat

The eastern woodrat mating ritual involves a potentially deadly fight between the male and female before reproduction begins!

Flea

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.

Gopher Snake

Gopher snakes can reach up to 9 feet long.

Grass Snake

Use acute hearing to hunt

Green Snake

There are two types of green snakes: smooth green snakes and rough green snakes

Harlequin Snake

Red touches yellow kills a fellow, red touches black a friend of Jack.

Harris Hawk

Their vision is eight times better than a human's

Jackrabbit

They can run as fast as 45 mph.

King Snake

King Snakes eat other types of snakes.

Kit Fox

The kit fox is the smallest canid in North America.

Massasauga

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

Mealybug

They have a symbiotic relationship with ants.

Mexican Eagle (Northern crested caracara)

The northern crested caracara mates for life with its partner

Mojave Rattlesnake

"The Mojave rattlesnake is the most venomous rattlesnake in the world."

Nilgai

Nilgai were hunted for their meat as far back as 8,000 years ago.

Orb Weaver

Females are about four times the size of males

Owl

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.

Ringed Kingfisher

Dives from perches to capture its prey!

Rooster

Will mate with the entire flock!

Seagull

Some gulls are capable of using tools

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.

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 Indigo Snake

Texas Indigo Snakes are known for chasing down, overpowering, and eating rattlesnakes.

Texas Night Snake

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

Texas Rat Snake

The Texas rat snake is one of the most common subspecies of the western rat snake in the wild.

Texas Spiny Lizard

They hold push-up competitions!

Western Blind Snake

Western blind snakes are flourescent in black light!

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.

Texan Animals List

Animals in Texas FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What waterfalls are in Texas?

Despite its large size, Texas isn’t home to a huge number of waterfalls. Some more notable waterfalls to visit include Gorman Falls, the Hamilton Pool Waterfall near Austin, and McKinney Falls.

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.

What aquariums are in Texas?

Texas is home to 16 different aquariums. Some of the best include the Texas State Aquarium in Corpus Christi, which is the 9th largest aquarium in the United States by tank size. In addition, entertainment options like Sea World San Antonio can be good spots to visit.