Indiana is a stunning state in the United States that is best known for being one of eight states to make up the Great Lakes Region. There are approximately 35,673 miles of river in Indiana that provide some fascinating and diverse habitats.
Indiana is home to hundreds of different species of animals, which vary massively in size and shape. In fact, some of them can reach incredible sizes, so join us as we discover the largest animals in Indiana!
9. Timber Rattlesnake
The first animal on the list is the largest of the four venomous snakes in Indiana – the timber rattlesnake. Timber rattlesnakes are usually 3 to 5 feet long with yellowish brown bodies and black and brown crossband markings. They typically prefer to live in thick forest regions but pregnant females tend to prefer rock outcrops where they can bask in the sun – called “basking knolls”. These snakes are generally considered to be the most dangerous snakes in Indiana due to the large amounts of highly potent venom that they possess. Luckily, this is somewhat outweighed by their calm manner and long winter brumation period. Timber rattlesnakes are only found in a few areas of Indiana – including the counties of Brown, Monroe, Morgan, Jackson, Lawrence, and Washington.
8. Lake Trout
One of the largest animals in Indiana is the lake trout which can reach 50 inches long and up to 102 pounds. They have grey to greenish grey colored bodies with lighter undersides and cream or yellow colored spots on them. Lake trout are freshwater fish native to North America where they typically live in deep, cold lakes. Their diet depends on their age as juveniles tend to feed on small invertebrates while adult prey on small fish and crustaceans. Lake trout are popular with anglers and they can be found in lakes right across Indiana.
7. Whooping Crane
As the tallest bird in North America, it’s not surprising that the whooping crane makes it to the list of largest animals in Indiana. Whooping cranes have a wingspan of 6ft 7in to 7ft 5in and stand anywhere up to a huge 5ft tall. They are white birds with distinctive black tips on their wings and red-crowned heads. Whooping cranes have a loud, whooping call that can often be heard from miles away. They live around shallow wetland areas which are suitable for foraging. Whooping cranes tend to nest on the ground near marshes where they raise 1 or 2 chicks every year. Whooping cranes are endangered species but one of the best places to see them in Indiana is Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area in Linton.
6. White-Tailed Deer
The only species of deer native to Indiana are white-tailed deer, which average 100-300 pounds, with males being larger and heavier than females. White-tailed deer are reddish brown during the spring and summer but they turn greyish brown through the fall and winter months. Their most distinctive feature is the white patch on the underside of their tail. White-tailed deer are highly adaptable and live in a wide range of habitats, although prairies and forests are particularly favored. They are herbivorous animals and are browsers rather than grazers – moving around and picking at grass, leaves, plants, fruit, and corn. White-tailed deer are found all across Indiana with the population estimated to be increasing steadily.
5. Blue Catfish
One of the largest animals in Indiana is the blue catfish which can weigh up to a whopping 150 pounds with a length of almost 4 feet. The largest blue catfish in Indiana weighed 104 pounds and was caught in the Ohio River. Although these catfish often occur in freshwater, they have the ability to survive in brackish water which means they are sometimes found in coastal regions too. Blue catfish have a voracious appetite and eat virtually any fish that they can catch, regardless of species. They also prey on crabs, mussels, crawfish, frogs, and insects. In Indiana, these fish are mainly only found in lakes, rivers, and large streams. Some of the popular places to find them include Wabash River and Ohio River.
4. Cicada Killer Wasp
Also known as the cicada hawk, the cicada killer wasp is a large species of wasp found in Indiana. These huge wasps can reach 2 inches long and are reddish brown with yellow stripes and brown wings. Cicada killer wasps are solitary animals which help to distinguish them from the smaller yet similar-looking hornets and yellow jackets. They are both very social animals. Cicada killer wasps are named because the females catch and kill cicadas. Once caught they are carried back to the burrow by the female who then lays eggs on them. As the eggs hatch, the cicadas become food for the resulting larvae. Cicada killer wasps nest on the ground where they burrow into sandy or loose soil. In Indiana, they are often found nesting near residential areas – such as on sidewalks, yards, and patios.
3. Bald Eagle
The largest bird in Indiana is the massive bald eagle which has a wingspan of approximately 7ft. Bald eagles are easily distinguished by their dark plumage, white heads and tails. They are sea eagles and live around large areas of water – particularly near large lakes and coastlines where there is plenty of fish. Prey is seized straight from the water using their talons. Bald eagles are perhaps best known for creating the largest nests of any animal in the world. They don’t build new nests every year, but simply add more to them. Nests are built in trees and the largest nests can be up to 20 feet deep and 9 feet wide. Bald eagles are common in Indiana all year round and some of the best places to see them include Lake Monroe and Salamonie Lake.
2. Eastern Rat Snake
The longest snake in Indiana is the eastern rat snake which often reaches lengths of up to 6 feet. However, the longest recorded was a massive 7ft 6in long. Eastern rat snakes, also known as black rat snakes, are typically a shiny black color with a white chin and throat. They are not venomous and mainly prey on rodents, frogs, lizards, and birds, although they are also known to prey on chickens too. Eastern rat snakes are highly adaptable and live in a wide variety of habitats – including farmland, grasslands, and forests. They are common across Indiana and are found in any suitable habitat – even in residential areas!
The largest animal in Indiana is the American bison which has a staggering 6ft 5in shoulder height. Bulls are larger than females and the heaviest amongst them can reach 2,500 pounds. They are herbivores and live in huge herds in open and semi-open habitats such as grasslands and prairies. Bison were originally hunted to extinction in Indiana in the 1830s. However, in 2016 the Nature Conservancy reintroduced 23 bison to the state. Now, these bison can be seen roaming wild at the Kankakee Sands Nature Preserve where the herd is steadily growing in numbers.
Summary of the 9 Largest Animals in Indiana
|Name of Animal||Size||Habitat|
|Bison||6’5″ at shoulders; 2,500+ lbs.||Grasslands and prairies|
|Eastern Rat Snake||6+ feet long||Widespread, including farmland, grasslands, and forests|
|Bald Eagle||7’7″ wingspan; 6.6-14 lbs.||Near large bodies of water|
|Cicada Killer Wasp||up to 2″ long||Burrow into sandy or loose soil|
|Blue Catfish||up to 5’5″ long; up to 150 lbs.||Lakes, reservoirs, rivers, and large streams|
|White-tailed Deer||100-300 lbs.||Favor forests and prairies, but widespread|
|Whooping Crane||4’1″-5’3″ tall; 7’7″ wingspan||Shallow wetland areas|
|Lake Trout||up to 50″ long; 102 lbs.||Deep, cold lakes|
|Timber Rattlesnake||3-5 ft. long||Thick forest regions or rocky outcrops|
The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/Jillian Cooper
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