Discover The 10 Largest Animals In Mississippi, and Where You’ll Find Them

Written by Hannah Ward
Published: August 21, 2022
© Tory Kallman/Shutterstock.com
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Located in the southeastern region of the United States, Mississippi is full of rich and diverse habitats. Mississippi has 44 miles of stunning coastline which means it’s home to some fascinating marine animals. Vast parts of the rest of the state are made up of lowlands and low hills, although uplands are in the northeast. However, many rivers run through the state – including the Mississippi River. Therefore, it’s no surprise that there is also an incredibly diverse range of animals that live there too. So join us as we discover 10 of the largest animals in Mississippi and where you’ll find them!

American Alligator

without a doubt one of the largest animals in Mississippi is the huge American alligator
Alligators typically live in swamps, streams, lakes, and rivers, where they hunt in and around the water.

©Matthew Field / Creative Commons

The first animal on the list is the American alligator, the Mississippi state reptile. Alligators are fearsome animals that typically reach lengths of almost 16 feet and weigh up to 1,230 pounds, although larger sizes often occur. Alligators are easily recognized with their dark olive green color, broad snout, and rows of sharp teeth. They typically live in swamps, streams, lakes, and rivers, where they hunt in and around the water. American alligators are apex predators and prey on fish, birds, snakes, turtles, and mammals of varying sizes. American alligators are widely distributed across the southeastern region of the U.S., and the same goes for Mississippi itself. They are found in every county in the state, but the highest populations are in the southeast.

Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake

Large eastern diamondback rattlesnake
Eastern diamondback rattlesnakes prefer to live in pine forests, flatwoods, and sandhills.

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There are six venomous snakes in Mississippi, and the largest is the eastern diamondback rattlesnake which reaches approximately 8 feet long. Eastern diamondback rattlesnakes have thick, heavy bodies which are brown or brownish yellow and overlaid with brown or black diamond markings with lighter centers. The diamonds then turn into crossbands towards the tail. Eastern diamondback rattlesnakes are highly venomous and have fangs approximately 1 inch long. They typically prey on small mammals and birds, which they ambush. Eastern diamondback rattlesnakes prefer to live in pine forests, flatwoods, and sandhills. However, they are also excellent swimmers and have been spotted miles away from land while swimming between barrier islands. In Mississippi, they are restricted to the counties in the state’s southern region.

Catfish

Blue Catfish
The largest catfish in Mississippi weighed 131 pounds!

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Catfish are some of the most widespread and diverse fish on every continent except Antarctica. Although there are around 3,000 species, the three most common in Mississippi are blue, channel, and flathead catfish. Catfish are found in virtually all of the major lakes in Mississippi and the Mississippi River itself. Catfish are typically brown, yellow, olive, or grey, and most have distinctive barbels on their face. Their sizes vary widely, but the Mississippi state record is an immense 131 pounds! Catfish also have a varied diet, including fish, snails, mollusks, small mammals, and even birds.

Broad-Headed Skink

Broadhead skink
Broad-headed skinks have distinctive triangular-shaped heads.

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These skinks are named for their wide jaws, which give their head a broad, triangular shape. They are usually brown or olive green; males have bright orange heads while females have light stripes down their back and tail. Broad-headed skinks are one of the largest skink species and commonly reach 13 inches long. They are semi-arboreal and often live in oak trees, while dead trees are particularly favored for nesting in. Broad-headed skinks mainly eat insects, although they sometimes prey on rodents and other small reptiles. Broad-headed skinks are endemic to the southeastern region of the United States and can be found in most woodland areas across Mississippi.

Turkey Vulture

Black Vulture vs Turkey Vulture - Turkey Vulture
Turkey vultures are easily recognized by their distinctive red head.

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As the most widespread of the New World vultures, turkey vultures are found right across Mississippi all year round in suitable habitats. Turkey vultures primarily feed on carrion, and as they rely heavily on their eyesight to spot prey, they tend to live in open habitats such as grasslands, deserts, and prairies. However, they usually lay their eggs in sheltered locations such as caves or burrows, although they don’t build a nest. Turkey vultures have dark brown or black plumage and bright red heads. They are large birds and have a wingspan of 5 to 6 feet.

American Black Bear

one of the largest animals in Mississippi is without a doubt the black bear which weighs around 550 pounds
Black bears can weigh up to 550 pounds.

©BGSmith/Shutterstock.com

One of the largest animals in Mississippi is the American black bear which can reach up to 550 pounds, with males being larger than females. They are endemic to North America and typically live in areas with thick vegetation – such as woodlands and mountainous regions at elevations between 1,300 and 9,800 feet. However, in Mississippi, they are commonly found near the Mississippi, Pascagoula, and Pearl rivers. American black bears are omnivorous and eat a mixture of grass, plant material, insects, fish, and deer fawns. Predators of American black bears across the U.S. include wolves, coyotes, and mountain lions.

Eastern Indigo Snake

Eastern Indigo Snake
The Eastern indigo snake may be non-venomous, but its ability to grow over nine feet in length makes it daunting.

The longest snake native to North America is the eastern indigo snake which can reach lengths of up to 9 feet. These snakes have glossy blueish-black scales which are smooth rather than keeled. They are not venomous and prey on rodents, small birds, lizards, frogs, and turtles. Eastern indigo snakes rarely bite, but when threatened, they hiss violently while flattening their neck and raising their tail. They prefer to live in areas with plenty of sandy soil – such as flatwoods, hammocks, and stream bottoms. In Mississippi, they are now restricted to the state’s southeastern region.

Black Drum

Pogonias Cromis Black drum atlantic ocean fish underwater close up portrait
Black drums can reach weights of 90 pounds.

©Andrea Izzotti/Shutterstock.com

Often found along its Gulf Coast, black drums are one of the largest fish in Mississippi and are a popular seafood. Black drums are the largest species in the drum fish family and often reach weights of around 90 pounds. Adults are usually black or grey, while juveniles have vertical black stripes on their bodies. Black drums are bottom feeders with strong teeth, which they use to crush the shells of oysters and crabs.

Bald Eagle

one of the largest animals in Mississippi is thr bald eagle which has a huge wingspan
Bald Eagles have a massive wingspan of more than 7 feet.

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As the national bird of the U.S., bald eagles are incredibly well known. They have distinctive dark brown plumage with a white head and tail. Bald eagles have an incredible wingspan of 5ft 11in and 7ft 7in and weigh almost 14 pounds. However, their size isn’t the only thing “large” about them, as they also build the biggest nests of any bird in the world. This is because they add new layers to it every year, and the largest can be around 20 feet deep and 9 feet wide. As sea eagles, bald eagles live near large bodies of water – particularly coastlines and lakes. Bald eagles are found right across Mississippi, but without a doubt, they thrive along its Gulf Coast.

Bottlenose Dolphin

one of the largest animals in Mississippi is the bottlenose dolphin
Bottlenose dolphins often live in the Mississippi Sound.

©Tory Kallman/Shutterstock.com

Incredibly, one of the largest mammals in Mississippi is the bottlenose dolphin, also the state water mammal. These incredible animals weigh between 330 and 1,400 pounds and are up to 13 feet long. Bottlenose dolphins are some of the most agile and acrobatic animals in the world and can leap around 20 feet into the air. They are widespread and live in warm and temperate seas almost everywhere in the world. Bottlenose dolphins, with a large population, can commonly be seen in the Mississippi Sound region.


The Featured Image

bottlenose dolphin jumping out of the water
On average, bottlenose dolphins live for fifty years.
© Tory Kallman/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

I have been writing professionally for several years with a focus on animals and wildlife. I love spending time in the outdoors and when not writing I can be found on the farm surrounded by horses, dogs, sheep, and pigs.

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