Discover The 7 Largest Animals In Rhode Island, and Where You’ll Find Them

Black Bears - bear fishing

Written by Kyle Glatz

Updated: July 10, 2023

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Rhode Island may be the smallest state in the United States, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t home to some amazing wildlife. You won’t find incredibly large creatures like alligators here. Yet, you can still find some sizable creatures within this state’s borders. Today, we will examine seven of the largest animals in Rhode Island. You’ll learn what animals are living here and how big they can get!

What Are The 7 Largest Animals in Rhode Island?

Let’s set some boundaries on the largest animals in Rhode Island before we delve into the list. For one thing, we’re only going to consider creatures that live in the state, not those found miles off its coasts. For another thing, we’re going to examine many different types of animals.

Picture graph of the 7 Largest Animals in Rhode Island
Each of these animals is the largest of its kind in the Ocean State.

That’s why our list is going to include things such as spiders, fish, and mammals that live in the state and not just a general size comparison free-for-all. Now that we have some parameters let’s get to the list!

1. Northern Pike


The northern pike is the largest freshwater fish on Rhodes island.


Scientific NameSizeLocation
Esox lucius16-22 inches in lengthLakes, reservoirs, and streams

The northern pike is the largest freshwater fish in Rhode Island. They average 22 inches in length and weigh a few pounds. However, the largest ones caught in the state have measured over 40 inches and weighed 35 pounds.

These fish are not native to the state, but they were introduced to the area starting in the 1960s. The northern pike is found in many lakes, reservoirs, and streams now, but they are still growing.

Although this is the largest fish in the state, many large sharks can be found just off the coast. In fact, tiger sharks weighing several hundred pounds have been caught in the waters off Block Island in the past.

2. Mute Swan

Mute Swan on the River Orwell

Mute swans have a wingspan of close to 8 feet.

©Millie Bond – Copyright A-Z Animals

Scientific NameSizeLocation
Cygnus olor6-7.9 feet wingspanLives in marshes and ponds near coastal areas.

The mute swan is a large, beautiful bird that is found in many parts of Rhode Island. This bird measures up to 5 feet long in body length and has a wingspan that can reach over 7 feet long.

Mute swans can be found in and around lakes, ponds, and marshes in Rhode Island, often in the coastal areas. They have a pronounced S-shaped neck, white feathers, orange bills, and a black face and nostrils.

Although it’s tempting to get close to them for a picture opportunity, these birds are known for being fairly aggressive when they are near their nests. Not only do they scare off humans, but they also chase away other birds.

3. Black Bear

Black bears

Black bears on Rhodes island are the biggest mammals.


Scientific NameSizeLocation
Ursus americanus5 to 6 feet in lengthFound in forests near the border with Massachusetts and Connecticut.

The American black bear is very rare in Rhode Island, but it’s believed that a dozen or so bears have made this state their home. Most times when they are seen, it is wandering black bears looking for food rather than a stable population.

Nevertheless, they are being seen with increased frequency, so we’re considering them among the largest animals in Rhode Island and certainly the biggest mammal. They can reach 6 feet in length and stand 3 feet high on all fours. They can weigh over 500 pounds and stand on their hind legs to tower over people.

Stay away from black bears and report all sightings you may witness. They can easily kill a human.  

4. Black Rat Snake

Closeup of a black rat snakes face

Black rat snakes can reach a maximum length of up to 8 feet!

©Nancy Bauer/

Scientific NameSizeLocation
Pantherophis alleghaniensis6-7 feet in length, sometimes more.Prefer to live in forests, fields, and close to human settlements with lots of prey.

The name “black rat snake” is given to a few different species, but we’re focusing on the eastern variant, Pantherophis alleghaniensis. This snake can measure between 6 and 7 feet, and sometimes a little closer to 8 feet.

Black rat snakes are found in forests, suburban areas, and fields, where they hunt small mammals and various other sources of food. They are fairly common, but they are not venomous. Still, it’s not wise to handle snakes that you don’t know well.

5. Spotted Salamander

A black yellow-spotted Fire Salamander sitting on a rock.

Spotted salamanders prefer to live near stagnant water.

©Marek R. Swadzba/

Scientific NameSizeLocation
Ambystoma maculatum6-10 inches in total lengthOften found in forested areas near water like small ponds.

The spotted salamander is not commonly seen in Rhode Island, but not because they’re rare. Instead, they spend much of their time hiding in burrows or under debris in the wetlands they call homes.

These salamanders prefer to live near stagnant water like ponds and swamps. The spotted salamander often has dark-colored bodies in gray, brown, or close to black. Typically, they’ll have patterns of light colors like yellow or white as splotches.

6. Giant Swallowtail Butterfly

giant swallowtail butterfly

The giant swallowtail


lives in coastal areas on Rhodes island.

©Kevin Collison/

Scientific NameSizeLocation
Papilio cresphontes4-6 inches in wingspanLives in coastal areas, fields, forests, swamps, suburbs, and more.

The giant swallowtail is the largest insect by size alone in Rhode Island. It has a wingspan that measures between 4 and 6 inches. It is very easy to spot by size alone and lives in a variety of areas where it can be seen.

For example, these butterflies usually live in the coastal areas of the state in fields, swamps, and even suburban areas. This species nearly disappeared from the state for a while, but they have made a comeback in recent decades.

7. Huntsman Spider

Heteropoda venatoria


huntsman spider

is the largest spider on Rhodes Island.

©© 2017 Jee & Rani Nature Photography / CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons – Original / License

Scientific NameSizeLocation
Heteropoda venatoria3-5 inches in legspanFrequently found living on trees, under debris, and also in houses.

The huntsman spider is a nonnative species in Rhode Island, and it’s known as the giant crab spider or cane spider. This spider has a very large legspan that measures very close to five inches. Although they are very large spiders, their bite is not that serious.

They often live in areas with plenty of trees or under debris on the ground. Make sure you watch where you put your hands when hiking!


Now that we have covered seven of the largest animals in Rhode Island and looked at where they like to live, let’s end with a word of caution. Some of the wildlife in Rhode Island are approachable, like insects. Other members of this list should be avoided, like bears and snakes that you’re not too familiar with.

Stay aware of your surroundings when you’re in the untamed parts of Rhode Island, and avoid trouble by not disturbing wild animals.

Summary of the 7 Largest Animals in Rhode Island

Name of AnimalType of AnimalHabitat
Northern PikeFishLakes, reservoirs, and streams.
Mute SwanBirdMarshes and ponds near coastal areas.
Black BearMammalForests in the northwestern corner of the state.
Black Rat SnakeReptileForests, fields, and near human settlements.
Spotted SalamanderAmphibianForested areas near water.
Giant Swallowtail ButterflyInsectCoastal areas, fields, forests, swamps, suburbs, and more.
Huntsman SpiderArachnidOn trees, under debris, and in houses.

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About the Author

Kyle Glatz is a writer at A-Z-Animals where his primary focus is on geography and mammals. Kyle has been writing for researching and writing about animals and numerous other topics for 10 years, and he holds a Bachelor's Degree in English and Education from Rowan University. A resident of New Jersey, Kyle enjoys reading, writing, and playing video games.

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