Discover The 7 Largest Animals In New York, and Where You’ll Find Them

Written by Kyle Glatz
Published: September 5, 2022
© Michael Liggett/
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New York State is a lot more than the Big Apple and its other cities. In fact, the state is rather diverse in terms of its environment. You’ll find beaches and mountainous areas along with deep rivers and vast lakes in this state. As a result, it’s possible to see many different types of animals living within New York’s borders. However, we’re only going to focus on the largest animals in New York in this article.

The 7 Largest Animals in New York

It’s hard to imagine many large creatures wandering around a place as metropolitan as New York. Yet, you have to remember that over 80 percent of this state is rural. As such, you can find big fish, insects, mammals, and others. Today, we’re going to discover seven different types of the largest animals in New York and show you where they can be found!

1. Great White Shark

Great White shark breaching
The Great white shark can be up to 26 feet.

©Jayaprasanna T.L/

Scientific NameSizeLocation
Carcharodon carcharias18-26 feetTemperate coastal waters and the open ocean.

The great white shark is the biggest fish in New York if you count saltwater fish caught off the coast of the state. That would also make it one of the largest animals in New York overall. These sharks rarely come close to the shore, but a few occasions have seen them off the coast of Jones Beach and Southampton.

The great white shark is usually found in temperate coastal waters, so it’s not that surprising to find them along the coast of the U.S. However, they are not exactly common. Yet, they can measure over 20 feet long and weigh several thousand pounds.

In fact, the largest one caught off the coast of New York weighed 3,450 lbs when it was caught in 1986. Meanwhile, the largest freshwater fish in New York is the lake sturgeon.

2. Mute Swan

mute swan in calm water
The mute swan is the heaviest of the swimming birds in New York.


Scientific NameSizeLocation
Cygnus olor6 -7.5 ft wingspanUsually found in the southeast part of New York, especially on Long Island. They live near ponds and lakes.

The mute swan is the largest bird in New York State. This bird has a wingspan of over 7 feet at its longest and can weigh upwards of 25 pounds. However, it also has a bad reputation as an invasive species. It was first brought to the U.S. in the 1800s, and releases of this bird into the wild has allowed its numbers to grow.

You will find these birds mostly in the lower Hudson Valley and Long Island. Yet, there is also a population of these birds that live near Lake Ontario. Mute swans are mostly white as adults with black faces and orange bills. They’re easy to spot, but they aren’t very vocal like other breeds. They eat several pounds of vegetation per day, mostly submerged aquatic plants.

3. Moose

What do moose eat
Moose are scary animals with incredible size.


Scientific NameSizeLocation
Alces alces7-10 feetMostly found in the northeastern portion of the state, where they live in the Adirondack Mountains and boreal forests.

One of the scariest and largest animals in New York is the moose. Moose is located in the northeastern parts of New York in the Adirondack Mountains, near the borders with Massachusetts and Vermont. These animals can measure 10 feet long, stand six feet tall at the shoulders, and weigh over 1,000 pounds.

Moose can kill humans if they are defending their territory. It’s best to admire these creatures from afar.

4. Black Rat Snake

Closeup of a black rat snakes face
Black rat snakes are found throughout New York.

©Nancy Bauer/

Scientific NameSizeLocation
Pantherophis alleghaniensis6-8 feetPrefer to live in forests, fields, and close to human settlements with lots of prey.

The black rat snake is a common name applied to many snakes. In New York, you’ll find the Pantherophis alleghaniensis, a snake that can measure over 7 feet and push the boundaries of 8 feet in length.

Black rat snakes are found throughout much of New York. However, they prefer to live in forests, in fields with vegetation, and close to buildings. Human settlements often attract rats, mice, and other creatures that the snakes consume. Don’t worry, though. This snake is not venomous and rarely bites people.

5. Eastern Hellbender

An Eastern Hellbender with the frills of skin along the sides of the body that allow it to take in oxygen, clearly visible.
The eastern hellbender can measure up to 2.5 feet long!


Scientific NameSizeLocation
Cryptobranchus alleganiensis1-2.5 feetSouth and Southwestern New York in the Susquehanna and Allegheny River drainages

The eastern hellbender is a rather rare salamander in New York. In fact, it’s typically only found in the Susquehanna and Allegheny Rivers along with their tributaries. It enjoys spending time in running water while hiding under logs, rocks, and other obstructions in the water for protection.

The eastern hellbender is the largest salamander in the Americas, measuring between 1 and 2.5 feet long. It is usually dark, like olive brown or black, making them hard to see at the bottom of streams and rivers.

6. Cecropia Moth

A female cecropia moth is landing on a branch. The wings are grayish brown and each one has a kidney-shaped red spot with a white center.
The Cecropia moth is a nocturnal insect.

©Cathy Keifer/

Scientific NameSizeLocation
Hyalophora cecropia5-7 inchesMay be found in the Adirondack Mountains in the late spring.

The Cecropia silk moth is the largest insect in the state of New York, measuring up to 7 inches in wingspan. It is mostly seen in the Adirondack Mountains in late spring after emerging from its cocoon.

This moth has brown and black wings, ruddy bodies, and stripes of tan, white, and red on its wings in gorgeous patterns. It is a nocturnal creature that may be drawn to certain areas by light, so it can be seen fluttering around streetlights.

7. Dark Fishing Spider

dark fishing spider
The dark fishing spider uses its speed to hunt prey.


Scientific NameSizeLocation
Dolomedes tenebrosus3.5-4.5 inchesFound in wooded areas and tall vegetation near bodies of water as well as on the water.

The dark fishing spider is a creature with very long legs. While it’s not high on the list of the largest animals in New York, it’s certainly one of the most frightening to encounter. It is very fast and can traverse water with ease while hunting prey.

Dark fishing spiders are often seen in wooded areas in bodies of water. They may rest on trees or simply hunt for prey along the ground. Their bite, while moderately painful, is rarely given and is not dangerous to people.

Now that we’ve covered the largest animals in New York and where you’ll find them, you should have a good idea of the big animals that share this state with humans. You’ll certainly have to go beyond the city limits to see most of them, but it’s good to know what kinds of big creatures await you in the rural parts of this state.  

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Moose Size Comparison - Moose in Field
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About the Author

I'm a freelance writer with 8 years of experience. I've written in a variety of niches such as managed service providers, animals, and retail distribution. I graduated from Rowan University in 2014 . When I'm not working, I enjoy playing video games, reading, and writing for fun.

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