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

Written by Volia Schubiger
Updated: June 6, 2023
© Rejean Bedard/
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Known as “The Natural State,” Arkansas has a range of climates associated with it due to its geographic location. There are six distinct geographic regions that make up the area. There are many different types of landscapes naturally occurring in the state, from the mountainous Ozarks region in the north to the swampy delta region in the east and the forest-covered Timberlands region in the southwest. Considering how diverse the land in this state is, you can expect some pretty exciting wildlife to live here. Let’s find out all about the 8 largest animals in Arkansas and where you can find them in the state!

1. Rocky Mountain Bull Elk 

Bull Elk bugling for does.
The antlers of an elk can grow more than an inch a day during the summer.

©Wesley Aston/

Male elk can weigh well over 700 pounds, making them one of the largest mammals in North America. Females tend to weigh less than their male counterparts, with an average weight of about 500 pounds. Antlers are unique to the male elk compared to other deer species, such as reindeer. This is the easiest way to tell the difference between males and females. The Boxley Valley is a spectacular place to visit if you are looking for a chance to view the elk safely. In North Central Arkansas, you can see elk roaming freely at several different locations around the Buffalo National River, which is one of the best wildlife viewing areas in the state. Elk is definitely one of the largest animals in Arkansas worth trying to spot!

2. Black Bear

Florida black bear
Over 3,000 black bears are estimated to live in Arkansas.

©Roger Epps/

The bear population in Arkansas is on the rise once again. It is estimated that there are over 3,000 black bears in the state. Arkansas is home to the American black bear (ursus americanus). Black bears are fast runners and excellent climbers despite being the smallest bear species in America. A male black bear typically weighs 130 to 500 pounds, while a female weighs 90 to 350 pounds. An adult black bear stands five to seven feet tall when standing upright and three feet tall when on all fours. Forests, rocky areas, and secluded areas are the most common habitats for bears in the state. Their habitats are mainly found in the Ozark Highlands, Ouachita National Forest, and lower White River basins.

3. Bobcat

Bobcats are widespread in Arkansas, and their numbers are stable.

©Victor Arita/

In North America, bobcats range across nearly all of the U.S., including Arkansas. As one of the most well-known members of the state’s wildlife, the bobcat is known to have a stable population that can be found throughout the state. Their average weight is 15 to 20 pounds, but they can weigh up to 40 pounds. Compared to house cats, they are roughly twice the size. Their short tails have a black tip above and a white tip below. Throughout Arkansas, bobcats are found in a variety of habitats. Woodlands are their favorite habitat, but they can also be found in swamps, deserts, and rugged mountains.

4. Alligator

Gator from Lakeland Florida
 Since the Federal Endangered Species Act was implemented in Arkansas twenty years ago, the number of alligators has increased tremendously.

© Pankratov

There have been alligators in Arkansas for thousands of years. The American alligator inhabits the southern coastal plains of the United States. American alligators typically grow to about 15 feet in length, weighing up to 1,000 pounds. It is estimated that females will reach a maximum height of 9 feet. These alligators are most commonly found in shallow water marshes and swamps in Arkansas. They are one of the largest animals in Arkansas and can be pretty dangerous if you’re not careful!

5. Red Wolf

Rarest animal – Red wolf
Red wolves historically roamed over the southern United States,


There was once a red wolf population in Arkansas. In the past, they were found throughout the state. Unfortunately, hunting has led to the species becoming extinct in the state. A red wolf is a medium-sized animal in between a gray wolf and a coyote. They stand about 26 inches tall at the shoulder and are about four feet long. It is estimated that red wolves weigh between 45 and 90 pounds, with males weighing about 60 pounds and females about 50 pounds. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List, Red Wolves are classified as “critically endangered” under the Endangered Species Act.

6. Bald Eagle

Largest Eagles in the World: American Bald Eagle
Bald eagles nest along the banks of rivers and lakes throughout Arkansas.

©Dennis W Donohue/

In recent years, bald eagles have been spotted all over Arkansas. This is excellent news for the species since it was once considered endangered in the state. Bald eagle females are roughly 25% larger than males, unlike many other animal species. It is estimated that female bald eagles weigh about 10 to 15 pounds, whereas males weigh about 6 to 9 pounds. Their wingspan ranges from 5.5 to 8 feet, and their height ranges from 28 to 38 inches. You’re best off going near bodies of water if you want to see bald eagles. Since eagles hunt for fish near water, they spend a lot of time near water. Check out Lake Ouachita State Park, Lake Dardanelle, or Lake Catherine State Park.

7. Barred Owl

Most Dangerous Birds
These beautiful owls are fairly common in Arkansas, but they can be difficult to see because their feathers blend in with the trees.

©Jim Cumming/

The barred owl also called the hoot owl, is an unthreatened, nocturnal owl found in Arkansas. In terms of size, the barred owl is quite a large owl. It stands 16 to 23 inches tall and has a wingspan of 38 to 44 inches. Despite being active during the day, barred owls are mostly nocturnal hunters. They usually nest in tree cavities in forests, so listen carefully for their unique calls to find them. These are definitely one of the largest animals in Arkansas when you take into account many of the other bird species in the state.

8. Alligator Gar

The alligator gar (Atractosteus spatula) is a ray-finned euryhaline fish related to the bowfin in the infraclass Holostei.
Alligator gars are the largest freshwater fish species found in Arkansas.


Arkansas’s largest fish is the alligator gar, the largest gar species in the world. In fact, it is capable of growing up to 8 feet in length and weighing more than 300 pounds. It is well known that alligator gars are found in Arkansas along the state’s largest rivers, including the Arkansas, Ouachita, Red, and White Rivers. As well as backwaters and pools connected to large rivers in the Delta region, oxbow lakes seem to be the favorite habitats for this species. This is definitely one of the largest animals in Arkansas that you can find swimming in the waters.

Summary of The 8 Largest Animals In Arkansas

1Rocky Mountain Bull Elk 500 – 700 pounds
2Black Bear90 – 500 pounds
3Bobcat15 – 40 pounds
4AlligatorUp to 1,000 pounds
5Red Wolf45 – 90 pounds
6Bald Eagle6 – 15 pounds
7Barred Owl1.3 – 2.5 pounds
8Alligator Gar300 pounds

The Featured Image

Red Wolf
The Red Wolf is critically endangered according to the IUCN Red List.
© Rejean Bedard/

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About the Author

Volia Schubiger is a freelance copywriter and content editor with a passion and expertise in content creation, branding, and marketing. She has a background in Broadcast Journalism & Political Science from CUNY Brooklyn College. When she's not writing she loves traveling, perusing used book stores, and hanging out with her other half.

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