Discover The 8 Largest Animals In Arizona, and Where You’ll Find Them

Written by Volia Nikaci
Published: August 5, 2022
Image Credit Nagel Photography/
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The species of wildlife that live in Arizona are as diverse as the habitats they inhabit. Arizona is full of surprises, as the land’s geography changes so much depending on where you are. After all, where else can you go to find desert landscapes, high mountains, and plateaus? Would you like to learn more about the amazing wildlife in “The Grand Canyon State”? Let’s explore all there is to know about the 8 largest animals in Arizona.

1. Javelina

In Arizona, javelinas can be found in a variety of habitats from the desert floor to an elevation of over 7,000 feet.

Dennis W Donohue/

Javelina, also known as a collared peccary, is a hoofed mammal that belongs to the New World pig family. These wild boar-like creatures are fairly common in the southwest. The adult javelina can reach lengths of 3 to 4 feet, heights of 2 feet, and weights of 35 to 55 pounds. The males of this species are larger than the females. Approximately half of the state of Arizona is home to javelina, including the outskirts of the Phoenix area, much of Tucson, and occasionally as far north as Flagstaff as well.

2. Coyote

Arizona is home to many coyotes in both rural and urban areas.

Derek R. Audette/

It is not uncommon for humans to mistake coyotes for small to medium-sized dogs in Arizona. This can be attributed to the fact that they possess a long, bushy tail with a black tip, pointed ears, and narrow, pointed faces. The presence of coyotes in the state is widespread, regardless of whether you live in the city or in rural areas. The most frequent time for them to be observed is either at night or close to sunrise. It is not uncommon for coyotes to reach a length of 24 inches to 36 inches and a height of 24 inches. Depending on the size, they can weigh between 30 and 50 pounds.

3. Mexican Wolf

Wolf quiz
The Mexican wolves are also known as ‘Lobos’ or ‘El Lobo’ which means ‘wolf’ in Spanish.

Nagel Photography/

Mexican wolves (Canis lupus baileyi) are the rarest and most genetically distinct subspecies of grey wolves in North America. An average wolf weighs about 50 – 80 pounds and measures about 5 feet from nose to tail. They also stand between 28 and 32 inches tall at the shoulder. In the mid-1970s, Americans wiped these wolves out, leaving just a handful of them in zoos. Today, they are found in southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico due to conservation efforts.

4. Bighorn Sheep

Male bighorn sheep ram with large horns on a cliff.
The bighorn sheep are easily recognized by their large horns, which weigh up to 30 pounds on the males.

Georgia Evans/

Bighorn sheep are named for their enormous horns that make them easy to identify. Male sheep known as rams have large spiral horns that continue to grow throughout their lives. The horns of female sheep, usually called ewes, are straighter and can reach 10 inches in length. According to estimates, Arizona’s bighorn population consists of both desert and Rocky Mountain races. A desert bighorn’s adult weight ranges from 150 to 200 pounds, while the female’s weight ranges from 100 to 125 pounds. The Rocky Mountain bighorn rams tend to be heavier, with an adult weighing between 160 and 250 pounds and occasionally even more than 300 pounds.

5. Bobcat

Exotic Pet Ownership Bobcat
Bobcats (Lynx rufus) are easiest to identify owing to their short bob-tails, which are 2 to 8 inches long.

Jack Bell Photography/

In Arizona, bobcats can be found at all elevations. They are especially found in the Sonoran desert, rimrock, and chaparral regions, as well as in suburban areas with abundant food sources. The average weight of a bobcat is between 15 and 30 pounds. As a general rule, the males are much bigger than the females. It is estimated that their body length ranges from 20 to 50 inches. Despite the fact that bobcats do not appear to be among the largest animals in Arizona, they are still quite intimidating animals! The fact of the matter is that they often ambush their prey by remaining motionless for some time before leaping on it.

The next animal on our list is one of the largest animals in Arizona whose path you might not want to cross.

6. Black Bear

Arizona’s only bear species is the black bear, which is one of the smallest species of bear in the world.

Diane Krauss / Creative Commons

Even though black bears are among the smallest bear species in the world, they are not small animals. The black bear can be found in many different habitats in Arizona. These include wild forests, woodlands, grasslands, and riverbank areas, mostly at elevations between 4,500 and 10,000 feet. The bears in Arizona weigh between 125 and 400 pounds, and the males tend to be larger than the females. Overall, taking into account their massive size, these bears are definitely one of the largest animals in Arizona!

7. Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron, isolated on white background.
Great blue herons are large, tall birds with long necks and a black stripe above their eyes.

There is no doubt that the Great blue heron is a big bird. The size of this bird ranges from 45 to 54 inches in height and has a wingspan ranging from 66 to 79 inches. In terms of weight, it weighs between four and eight pounds. As a general rule, great blue herons are most commonly seen along the edges of rivers, lakes, and wetlands in Arizona. A good way to identify one is by looking for a large bird that has legs trailing behind it directly behind the bird and a neck that is shaped like the letter “S.”

8. Rattlesnake

rattlesnakes in california
There are 13 species of rattlesnakes in Arizona, and each of them has its own characteristics.

Ryan M. Bolton/

A rattlesnake is definitely one of those animals that we wouldn’t want to mess with in the wild. As a general rule, rattlesnakes are more active in open areas such as north Scottsdale, Gold Canyon, and other areas with plenty of open spaces in the Phoenix area. There are currently 13 different species of rattlesnakes in Arizona. The size of these animals really varies from one to another. It is important to note, however, that the majority of rattlesnakes only reach a length of 3-6 feet. In regards to the striking range of a rattlesnake, it is about a third of the length of its body. That’s usually about 12-16 inches in most cases. So make sure you do your best to avoid one of the largest animals in Arizona that can strike you from afar.

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About the Author

Volia Nikaci is a copywriter and content editor with a passion and expertise in SEO content creation, branding, and marketing. She has a background in Broadcast Journalism & Political Science from CUNY Brooklyn College.