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Animals and Wildlife in Tennessee

A view of a mountaintop facing downward in Tennessee. Image via Roastedbeanz1, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Welcome to Animals and Wildlife in Tennessee.

There are a lot of zoos and natural parks in Tennessee. Many rare species of animals, strange animals, and some native animals which can be found in Tennessee provenance. There are approximately 75 species of animals, including some native animals like cougars, elk, black bears and bobcats which are found in this region.


We can also find some strange animals like big brown bats, American mink, and American beaver. Raccoons are the official wild animals found in Tennessee. Raccoons are considered mammals that have strange looks, they have black circles around their eyes which make them unique from other animals and can be easily recognized.

In Tennessee, catfish are also found. Catfish are one of the official commercial fish found in this region. Catfish are considered commercial fish because they are shipped worldwide and are raised on farms by locals of Tennessee. Many bugs are found in this region but majorly it has three state insects like a ladybug, honey bee and one is lightning bug.

There is a state butterfly found in Tennessee that looks like a zebra swallowtail. Approximately 84 areas are covered as natural areas and can find a lot of wild animals. The wild animals which are found in Tennessee are not dangerous

At Great Smoky Mountains National Park there are many options to see various animals which include black bear, raccoons, wild turkeys, white tailed deer and woodchucks, tracks of bobcats can also found. There are many places in Tennessee where many wild animals can found like Cumberland Mountain State park, Bays Mountains Park and Planetarium, Savage Gluch State Natural Area, Sugarland Valley Nature Trail and many zoos are also there.

Click below to jump to any section on animals in Tennessee:




Fox Squirrel

Corn Snake

Sandhill Crane

Milk Snake

Orb Weaver Spider


American elk. Image via Leupold James, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Elk are the native animals of Tennessee. They are the most important part for Tennessee ecosystem because they help in shaping the landscape for earlier residents of state. Nowadays they are eliminating from region because of hunting of Elk and the loss of habitat in this area. So because of this, elk are considered endangered animals too. 

Elk are large animals; they are larger than bears and sometimes can be dangerous in nature. The female elk are very protective for their calves, they may attacks people if one touches their calves so it’s better to avoid and maintain a distance with female elf with their calves. They are 700 pounds in weight and are 5 feet long from the shoulders.

Elk hunting is completely illegal in the Tennessee region and it’s also illegal to affect and remove any elk parts like antlers. Feeding elk in parks is strictly illegal in Tennessee; it can be dangerous to animals as well as to human beings also. As we are not aware of food diet of animals so it may affect their health and sometime if humans tries to feed them they get aggressive or defensive and can harm parks and humans as well. So it’s better to keep a distance while traveling to parks and zoos to spot these animals in Tennessee.

Places where one can find Elk in Tennessee

Elk are majorly found in the North Cumberland Wildlife Management area and it’s near to Knoxville. They are also found in the Cataloochee area in the south-east (Smoky Mountains). Best time to see Elk is in the morning, or late evening. They can also be active during cloudy, sunny days, and storm seasons


Ground hog
Groundhog on Laval University campus, Quebec, Canada. Image via Cephas, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Groundhogs are known as woodchucks and they come under rodent category. They belong to the Squirrel family. They are lowland creatures found in different parts of Tennessee. Groundhog is recognized with many names like Canada marmot, monax, chuck, wood-shock, whistlepig, and land beaver. They usually live in rocky and mountain areas.

Groundhogs play a very important role in ecosystem, they helps in maintaining health of soil in woodland and in plain areas. They are also considered as vital habitat engineers. Groundhogs work together in groups, they are very intelligent in nature, with complex social networks. They created a good relationship with young groundhogs. Furthermore, they communicate and understand threats using a whistle. They work together to solve tasks like creating mines or tunnels. They are herbivorous, and mainly eat wild grasses and other vegetation diet like crops, berries based on the season they are available in fields. 

Sometime they also eat small animals like snails, baby birds, grubs, grasshoppers but they are not considered as omnivorous. In the month of June their metabolism slows down, and their intake of food decreases. During winter season they do not store food rather they survive without eating.

Even if they don’t drink water, they covers the need for liquid from the juices of plants and vegetables they eats. Adult males weigh up to 3.83kg and are 41.8cm to 68.5cm in length. Females weigh from 3.1 to 5.07kg. They have incisor teeth which are 4 in number, and they grow 1.5 mm every week. These incisor teeth are white in colour, sometimes it may be ivory white in colour. They have short legs and wide, long claws, which help them in digging. Their tail is shorter than other squirrel family members. 

Places where one can find Groundhogs in Tennessee

Best places where one can find a groundhog is along fencerows or fields borders. They mostly found near farm lands as they loves to eats agriculture crops. Groundhog can be found easily everywhere in Tennessee region.


Bobcat staring
Bob cat at Columbus zoo. Image via Becker1999 (Paul and Cathy), CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Bobcat is a common wild cat found in Tennessee. They are good hunters with bright eyesight, good hearing capacity, along with good sense of smell. Additionally, they are categorized as mammals with long legs; pointed eyes may have tufts on eyes, wide faces, and short mouths

They have fur on their back which has black spots and lines. Fun on the face has black lines and there is a rope kind of fur line which comes from ears to the lower jaws. There are white spots at the back side of ears; tail tip is black in colour. Their paws are very sharp and are curved in shaped. Their paws can be renounced.

They are 22.5-50 inches in length, tail is 3.8-7.9 inches in length, ears are 2.5-2.8 inches and they weigh approx. 10-40 pounds. They live in dense forests areas under thick bushes. The majority eat small mammals which includes rabbits, mice squirrels, rats, and shrews. They may eat deer, snakes, grass (occasionally).

Places where one can find Bobcats in Tennessee

They found in dense areas in Tennessee region like Cumberland Mountain State park, Bays Mountains Park and Planetarium. They can be found near farm lands, swamps, scrubland, and rocky area alongside other animals in Tennessee.

Fox Squirrel

fox squirrel
Fox Squirrel (Sciurus niger), Asilomar, California, USA. Image via Skyttea, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

There are around 5 species of squirrels that are found in Tennessee. Their scientific name is Sciurus Niger with an average length of 45-70cm including tail length. They weigh up to 500-1000gms.  They can live up to 18 years of age. Female fox squirrel life span is 12 years and for male it is 8 -9 years. But they rarely live this long span life because of hunting, diseases, cold winter weather, prey birds like eagles. 

Fox squirrels are one of the largest tree squirrel found in Tennessee. Fox squirrels lives in different habitats like small patches in forests (trees). They generally choose trees for their home, which provides them their favourite food like walnuts, pecans, acorns etc. Interestingly, they hide their food in winter season at many places so that they can use those hidden food during the cold season.

They are good climbers and can easily climbs on tree. They are greyish brown fur coat at their back with orange hair on belly, edges of tail. But sometimes their colour may vary depending on the location. There are two type of fox squirrel one is Delmarva Fox Squirrel, and another one is Sherman’s fox squirrel. These both species differ in colour. They can be found foraging on the ground and can be easily seen there. Fox squirrels are good jumpers. They can jump up to 15 feet in horizontal direction. 

Places where one can find Fox Squirrels in Tennessee

They are found at southern and northern part of Tennessee region. At Baldwin Wallace University they can be found foraging on the ground sides and can be easily seen there. They can be found near common habitats like trees, forests.

Corn Snake

corn snake
Corn snake. Image by Joshua j Cotten

Corn snake is also known as Red Rat snake and is one of the species from snakes that are found in Tennessee. They are very beneficial predators of rodent’s species. They are many times killed because of their cooper head, a venomous species. As they are import predators of rodents so they play a very important role in food items for various other animals. They are large and are very powerful but are non-venomous snakes that survive on wide varieties of prey species. As they are non-venomous in nature but they can also bite. 

They can strike with a range of 1/3 to ½ of their body length. Young corn snakes are hard to survive as they become hunt for king snakes or coral snakes.  They mainly hide during day time under tree logs, animal’s burrows or old building. Generally foxes, bobcats, hawks, weasels are predators of corn snake.

They are mainly found from March to November month. Seen mostly in the summer season during the night time, usually when they are crossing roads. They are different from other snakes due to long stripe on their back. They have black bold and white colour check board patches on belly. It’s totally illegal to own corn snake species in Tennessee region. 

Places where one can find Corn Snakes in Tennessee

They are found at Southern Tennessee region. Found in the west region of Mississippi and Louisiana, Maryland south and mainly found during the night time with other animals in Tennessee.

Sandhill Crane

Sandhill crane
Sandhill Cranes (Antigone canadensis). Adult behind 4 week old juvenile. Image via, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Firstly, Sandhill Crane are found in various regions of Tennessee and other regions like US, Canada, Mexico. They are common source of hunting in Tennessee but from 2013 their hunting is banned. These are one of the largest birds in Tennessee. They are 4 feet long and wing can reach up to 7 feet. 

Furthermore, they have a very different sound and can be heard from miles. They are see during the migration season of other thousand birds, when they pass the state from Gulf coast to Florida. Their routes have various other regions during the migration season like Pickett, Clay, Bradley and Monroe.

They came back to their breeding place during the month of February. It is said that approximately around 20000 sandhill cranes spend their winter near Tennessee River and Hiwassee region. Even annual festival has celebrated in Tennessee for Sandhill cranes which is named as “Annual Tennessee Sandhill Crane Festival”. This festival mainly held in the month of January and small buses are there which carry tourist/visitors to see this natural beauty of sandhill cranes and even education programs will be help during this festival time. They majorly feed on seeds, grains, insects and small mammals.

Places where one can find Sandhill Cranes in Tennessee

Around 10000-20000 sandhill cranes are found near Tennessee and Hiwassee river. A few numbers of cranes can be sported near the west Tennessee region (Hop In wildlife Refuge and Reelfoot Lake).

Milk Snake

Milk snake
Milk snake. Image via Will Brown, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Firstly, there are around three subspecies of milk snake found in Tennessee. They are mostly found in the eastern region of Tennessee. The adult milk snake is approximately 24-36 inches in length. They are tan or grey in colour with around 3-5 lines of reddish brown colour and black edge blotches on their back. 

Furthermore, they have Y or V shaped tan mark near the rear side of head. They are named as milk snakes as there is old myth that they milked cows and are usually found in barns. But there is no true fact for this it’s just a myth. Scientifically they are found more usually in barns because of rats and rats are one of their favourite food. They cover a wide variety of habitats in Tennessee region which include fields, woodlands, agricultural and rocky area.

Additionally, they spend most of their time under the ground and are secretive in nature. They can be found under the rocks, old logs, old buildings. They hunt venomous vipers too, so the question arise here how they handle the venom? Milk snake blood has properties that neutralise the venom of other pit vipers. There is one kind of milk snake which is known as red milsnake and found in northeast Tennessee region. They usually live in wooded areas, mountains. Milk snakes are not harmful for human beings. People love to see them in the different areas of Tennessee. 

Places where one can find Milk Snakes in Tennessee

Usually they are found eastern region of Tennessee. They can be found in various other regions as well like Maine to Ontario in the north, Alabama to North Carolina in south with other animals in Tennessee. 

Orb Weaver Spider

Orb weaver
Golden orb-weaver spider (Nephila inaurata madagascariensis) female, Madagascar. Image via Charles J. Sharp, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Firstly, Tennessee is known as home to about 40-50 spiders species out of which many are the deadliest one like false black widow. They are named as Orb spiders because of their round and wheel shaped webs which they create to catch their hunt in. Furthermore, they are also known as garden spiders as they can easily found in your gardens. They create their webs with a diameter of 60cam and they are very strong.


Talking about the look of Orb spiders they are hairy and have spiny legs. They are approximately 1 inch in length. Additionally, they have different colour marks on their body like yellow, red, orange and light brown-black in colour. They are not aggressive in nature but can bite if someone irritates them. When they bite the area around the bite become swell and red in colour but the venom of orb spiders are not so strong such that they can lead to some dangerous effects. They usually build their webs around the homes, branches of tree, bushes, corners of windows or doorways, decks, can found their webs in the garden.

They can also build their webs near to lights as insects come there and will help them to feed.  The webs that are created by orb spiders are look like frames and have a sticky spiral kind of capture. The silks which they used to create webs have rare properties as it is so strong that the prey will not be able to make them free from the web. Most of the spiders created their webs in vertical form and they hang themselves with head in the downward direction.

They mate in the centre of the web, as the males slowly travels toward the webs with a fear to mot get eaten and when they reaches the centre of web they mounts female orb spider. Sometimes male orb spider create a thread which is called as mating thread either inside or outside the web to attract the female and if male spider success in attracting the female spider the mating process will takes on the thread.

Places where one can find Orb Weaver Spiders in Tennessee

They are found at Knoxille in Tennessee. But they are very common so can be found in the gardens of your home, old buildings, branches of trees, bushes etc.

Summary of Animals and Wildlife in Tennessee

YouTube video
“Wildlife in Tennessee”, Source: YouTube, Uploaded: Mountain living in Tennessee

Animals in South Carolina are abundant. This list sought to investigate only a few animals found in South Carolina. The habitats and feeding habits of the Elk, Groundhog, Bobcat, Fox Squirrel, Corn Snake, Sandhill Crane, Milk Snake and Orb Weaver Spider have been discussed in detail above.

If you enjoyed reading about the animals in South Carolina, check out animals in Alaska and animals in Idaho next!

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