Discover the 7 Largest Animals in Michigan, and Where You’ll Find Them

Grey Wolf
© Holly Kuchera/

Written by Marisa Wilson

Updated: July 28, 2023

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Did you know that Michigan has some pretty large animals? Large mammals can be found throughout the state, from moose to black bears and grey wolves. Big cats aren’t uncommon either, and some are unique animals too.

Picture graph of the 7 Largest Animals in Michigan.
Michigan has several impressively large animals living within its borders.

If you’re an animal enthusiast, you’ll definitely want to check out these majestic creatures in their natural habitats. You’ll find out what big animals Michigan has to offer and where you may be able to catch a glimpse. So pack your binoculars and get ready for a wildlife adventure! 

1. Black Bear

Black Bear Population by State

Black bears are found in forested areas of Michigan, typically in more isolated parts of the forest.


Black bears are the largest land carnivore in Michigan. These bears are found in forested areas of the state and typically live in isolated areas. They are shy and often avoid contact with people. Black bears typically weigh 150-200 pounds but can weigh up to 600 pounds. They usually eat fruits, nuts, berries, insects, fish, small mammals, and carrion. If you find a black bear, leave it alone. Do not approach it, attempt to feed it, or offer it food. Black bears are afraid of humans and will not attack unless they feel threatened. They will also attack if they feel their cubs are in danger. You can safely see them at Oswald’s Bear Ranch in the upper part of the state. 

2. Moose

Moose Size Comparison - Moose in Field

Moose play an essential role in Michigans ecosystems.

©Michael Liggett/

Adult moose stand six to seven feet tall at the shoulder and can weigh up to 1,800 pounds. But despite their size, moose are excellent swimmers and can even swim underwater for short distances. Moose are also good runners and can reach speeds of up to 35 miles per hour. They are found in several locations like Michigan. Moose plays an essential role in their ecosystem. They help to redistribute nutrients in the environment through their eating habits. They help aerate the soil as they walk around looking for food. And their antlers act as shovels, helping to move snow around in winter. So, next time you see a moose, take a moment to appreciate everything they do to help keep our ecosystem healthy! You can find them near lakes or at parks like Van Riper State Park and Tahquamenon Falls State Park

3. Canada Lynx

Canada Lynx perched on the side of a tree.

Canada Lynx perched on the side of a tree.

©Evelyn D. Harrison/

Canada Lynx is a type of wild cat found in North America. In the United States, they are primarily found in the northern states, including Michigan. Canada Lynx are relatively small cats, with males weighing up to 30 pounds and females weighing up to 20 pounds. That may not be as big as a bear, but it is big for a cat. They have thick fur that is gray or brown in color, and they have black tufts of hair on their ears. Canada Lynx are shy animals that prefer to avoid humans. They are mainly active at night and spend most of their time in trees. Canada Lynx are an endangered species in the United States, and it is illegal to kill them; if you’re lucky, you might see one in Sanilac County, Michigan. 

4. Bobcat

Are bobcats dangerous - Bobcat

Bobcats are small relative to some other

big cats

, but are one of the largest animals found in Michigan.

©Victor Arita/

Bobcats are found all across North America, from Canada to Mexico. In the United States, they’re most commonly found in the southern and eastern states, including Michigan. Bobcats are relatively small cats, but not compared to a regular house kitty. Males weigh around 35 pounds, and females weigh up to 25 pounds. They have beautiful fur, primarily brown or reddish-brown, with black spots on their legs and belly. 

Bobcats are shy and elusive animals, and humans seldom see them. However, they play a vital role in controlling the rodent population and other small mammals. Bobcats are a conservation success story, and their populations have rebounded in recent years after being severely depleted by hunting and habitat loss. They are scattered throughout Michigan and hang on the outskirts of larger cities like Detroit.

5. Grey Wolf

A family of grey wolves in the forest.

Once common, there are an estimated 700 grey wolves left in the state of Michigan.

©AB Photographie/

Although rare to see, grey wolves are found in Michigan. These majestic creatures were once common throughout the state, but their population was significantly reduced by hunting and habitat loss. Today, grey wolves are making a comeback in Michigan thanks to efforts to protect them and restore their habitats. Here are some facts about grey wolves in Michigan: 

  • There are an estimated 700 grey wolves in Michigan. 
  • The majority of grey wolves in Michigan live in the Upper Peninsula. 
  • Grey wolves travel in packs and typically stay within their pack’s territory. 
  • Wolves are carnivores and primarily eat deer but will also eat smaller mammals like rabbits and rodents. 
  • Wolves help keep populations of deer and other prey animals in check. 

If you’re lucky enough to spot a grey wolf in the Upper Peninsula, Michigan, you’ll be able to witness the results of conservation efforts and enjoy seeing one of these fantastic animals.

6. White-Tailed Deer

deer population

In Michigan, white-tailed deer are a common sight despite their shy and elusive nature.

© Bock

In Michigan, white-tailed deer are a common sight. These shy and somewhat elusive creatures are often seen darting through forests or meadows in search of food. Although most of them are relatively small, a white-tailed deer can grow to be quite large. The male white-tailed, called bucks, can grow up to six feet and weigh up to three hundred pounds! 

However, they are also gentle creatures, often seen bonding with other members of their herd. In Michigan, white-tailed deer play a vital role in the food chain. The state’s forests and meadows are teeming with life thanks to them. Out of this whole list, this is the easiest to find. You can find them in all counties in Michigan. So, the next time you see a white-tailed deer, take a moment to admire its impressive size!

7. Gray Rat Snake

common snakes in georgia

Another example of the largest animals found in Michigan, gray rat snakes can grown to be 3-6 feet long!

©Gabbie Berry/

Gray rat snakes are not usually on people’s list of creatures to see in person. Unless, of course, you are fascinated with creatures that send others running for the hills. Gray rat snakes get their name from their gray color. They can also be brown or black. They have keeled scales, meaning they have a raised ridge down the center of each scale. 

These kinds of snakes can grow to be three to six feet long. The female is usually longer than the male. They like to live in woods, fields, and swamps. Gray Rat Snakes eat rodents, such as mice and rats. Gray Rat Snakes are non-venomous snakes. This means they will not poison you if they bite you. The bite could hurt and might make you bleed. If you see a Gray Rat Snake, it is best to leave it alone. If you’re lucky, you can find them in the Lower Peninsula; their numbers are dwindling.


Whether you’re exploring the Upper Peninsula or spending a day in one of Michigan’s many state parks, keep your eyes open for these animals. They may be harder to spot than some of Michigan’s other creatures, but they’re definitely worth a look. They also may not be as exciting as lions or tigers, but they are still pretty cool. 

Michigan is home to some fascinating creatures, so keep your eyes peeled on your next nature hike. And who knows? Maybe you’ll get to see one of the 700 grey wolves or the giant moose. After all, nature watching can be as exciting as you make it!

Summary of the 7 Largest Animals in Michigan

Name of AnimalSizeHabitat
Black Bear150-600 poundsForests
MooseUp to 1,800 poundsNear lakes and state parks
Canada Lynx20-30 poundsIn trees; nocturnal
Bobcat25-35 poundsWidespread
Grey Wolf120-150 poundsMostly in the Upper Peninsula
White-tailed Deer100-150 poundsForests and meadows
Gray Rat Snake3-6 feet longWoods, fields, and swamps

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About the Author

Creepy-crawly creatures enthrall Marisa. Aside from raising caterpillars, she has a collection of spiders as pets. The brown recluse is her favorite spider of all time. They're just misunderstood. You don't have to worry about squishing the creatures as her catching, and relocating abilities can safely move stray centipedes or snakes to a new location that's not your living room.

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