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Animals in Kansas

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Welcome to Animals in Kansas!

Kansas is a beautiful state in the United States and a well-known place for wildlife to exist. Its largest city is Wichita, and its capital is Topeka. It includes plain areas, but it also has some rocky cliffs and rolling hills. Kansas is also known as the “Sunflower State” it witnesses four seasons each year, which include hot, humid summers and cold winters.

Wild Animals in the state of Kansas

Kansas has almost all the animals of the U.S., which are common to every state. It has many known birds, including great horned owls, bald eagles, great blue herons, red-tailed hawks and bluebirds.

It also has famous predators in the U.S.: foxes, coyotes, and bobcats. 

Some of its main mammals include: Raccoons, Opossums, Prairie dogs, cottontail rabbits and muskrats.

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Some native rodents of Kansas are groundhogs, pocket gophers and mice. Unlike other states in the U.S., Kansas has only one type of squirrel species: the eastern fox squirrel.

Beavers were being hunted for a long period of time that it reached the point of extinction, but now they have a healthy population in Kansas. You can see them in abundance there.

The Official Animal of state of Kansas

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Bison was once extinct in Kansas, but now they have been back in huge numbers. They are big in size and now have been named the state’s official animal.

Where can you Find the Top Wild Animals in Kansas?

Despite being farmland and devoted to agricultural cultivation, Kansas has 28 state parks and many other wildlife conservation areas. The wild areas and the conservation projects have helped Kansas to conserve its unique ecosystems.

Some of the areas are mentioned below where one can easily find wildlife there, which are as follow:

  • The Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve
  • Quivira National Wildlife Refuge
  • Cimarron National Grassland

Refuges for lesser prairie chickens under the Conservation Reserve Program have been started by some ranchers and farmers. They have the rarest birds in the world, and they allow people to visit the world’s rarest birds.

Dangerous Animals in Kansas

There are many giant animals in Kansas and many fierce predators as well, but these animals are not dangerous to humans as there is no report of any incident of attack of these animals on humans. The animals’ humans should be concerned with are snakes, spiders and insects as they are harmful to humans.

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Spiders are dangerous to humans as their bites can cause severe allergies and bruises to human skin. There are different types of spiders in Kansas: black widow, hobo and brown recluse spiders. 

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The other most dangerous animal in Kansas is a snake. It has two snake species in Kansas that is Copperheads and prairie rattlesnakes. 

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Ticks are a parasite it carries disease which is dangerous to humans. It can be easily found in wild animals and other domestic places.

Endangered Animals in Kansas

The lesser prairie chicken is a native wild bird of Kansas and is also on the list of endangered species. This bird was once abundant, but its numbers are reduced by more than 90 percent due to the conversions of farmlands. State’s Conservation Reserve Program has been playing its role in saving the endangered species by converting many areas of cropland into grasses for lesser prairie chickens to survive. Through the efforts of the State’s Conservation Reserve Program, the population has increased, but they are still endangered. 

There are some other endangered animals of Kansas which are mentioned below:

  • Eastern spotted skunk
  • Gray bat 
  • Pallid sturgeon 
  • Least tern 
  • Mucket mussel 
  • Cave salamander 
  • Strecker’s chorus frog 
  • Whooping crane

There are different varieties of animals in Kansas State. If you happen to visit around the state, you will see tiny rodents, medium-sized mammals and large bison. Some other animals that can be found in Kansas state are:

Armyworm

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If you have been wondering who has been destroying your crops all along, then let us introduce you to one of those species known as Armyworm. They are found in many countries, including the United States, especially in areas with more agricultural lands and crop fields. The origin of armyworms is North America, South America and Central America. They travel through the world from place to place with the help of humans, such as ships. They live in the east of the Rocky Mountains.

Life stages of Armyworm

Armyworm has different life stages, which include eggs, larvae, pupae and then adults. The transformation of an Armyworm from an egg to an adult is typical of 30 to 50 days. With each stage, the size of their head increases and the color of their head also changes. After they turn into an adult, they become ready to damage your crops because they feed largely on grasses and crops. 

They usually attack in groups and move from one crop field to another after finishing eating one. They keep hiding all day beneath layers of crop debris. They can damage the entire crop in one attack. Usually, they attack at night or on a cloudy day to feed. One of their favorite crops to attack is a corn field, so people with cornfield fields should be more conscious about their next arrival at their place.

Humans, predators, and parasitoids are the biggest threat to their existence as people use agricultural pest control to get rid of pests from their crops. They detect the presence of their predators with the sound they make. Their hearing ability is way too good.

Armyworms reside in the east of the Rocky Mountains and northward into Canada. They can also move to Colorado by flying up to 62 miles per night. Weather affects their growth and population. Their numbers start to decrease in the winter season. The process of growth stages also slows down from egg to adult.  

The abundant Armyworm regions are Southern Europe, Asia, Africa, South America and Central America. After the colonization of the New World, they made their way to each continent. 

In the larval stage of armyworms, they feed on weedy grass, barley, oats, rice, wheat, sugarcane, timothy, corns and millet. They also feed on weeds and large grasses. If there is any type of shortage, they will feed on any type of grass. They will even go to home lawns and feed in the lawn grass and other fields, such as golf courses.

Sugar-beet, watermelon, pepper, cucumber, lettuce, celery, sweet potato, partnership, carrot, cabbage, artichoke, bean, onion, pea and alfalfa are the secondary interest of their diet. When they reach their adult age, they feed on flower nectar, just like butterflies. Ripe and decaying food is also of their interest.

Armyworms often fall prey to parasitoids, predators or diseases. They suffer diseases like fungal infections. But their biggest threat is parasitoids which include flies and wasps, because they lay eggs inside or on the worms. Their predators are Bobolink, birds, starlings, blackbirds, crows, bats, beetles, ants, and spiders. 

According to scientists, armyworms increase in number from every five years to twenty years despite predators and humans using agricultural pest control. The reason for the abundance of armyworms is unknown, but it is assumed that the environmental factors such as the moisture level of the environment could be playing a role in the increase in their number.

Burrowing Owls

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Kansas has a variety of animals, and it would be unfair not to mention the burrowing owls of Kansas. Burrowing owls are slender, yellow-eyed, have no ear tufts visible, have white eyebrows, and are long-legged. Male and female burrowing owls are exactly like each other as it is not easy to tell them apart. While we think of a bird, we associate them with flying, but burrowing owls spend most of their time near the ground despite being amazingly capable of fanciful flight. There are other subspecies of burrowing owls, each of which plays an important role in its habitat by regulating the number of prey in their natural habitats.

Unlike others, burrowing owls are one of the few that migrate to other places in winter. The northernmost population of burrowing animals does the migration in the winter. In summer, they breed in the United States and Mexico, while in winter, they breed in Central America and South America. The population of burrowing owls which are already in Central America and South America do not migrate when the winter arrives.

They can be found throughout the Western Hemisphere. Grasslands, prairies, agricultural fields, and a little vegetation or trees are of their interest to reside. When they have to make a nest of their own, they do not find a place all by themselves rather. They look for the abandoned burrows of badgers, desert tortoises, coyotes, prairie dogs and foxes. But not all the burrowing owls are lethargic. Some have been seen digging their own burrows. While making their nest, they use dung which plays an important role in attracting the insects and dinner for the burrowing owls. They also mark their territory by extending the home range around the nesting area.

Burrowing owls seem to be very active in the daytime, but they usually hunt at sunrise or sunset. The rest of the time, they engage themselves in doing other activities like taking a bath in puddles or dust, stretching or peering. 13 sounds have been documented of burrowing animals in which most of the sounds are adapted for defending territory, and some of them are used while they communicate with their mate.

The burrowing owls feed on insects and arthropods as they are a carnivore. They feed on grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, lizards, snakes, earthworms, amphibians, ground squirrels and small birds like a sparrow.  

U.S. Migratory Bird Act protects burrowing owls as it faces many threats from predators and habitat loss. But now, they are of least concern on IUCN Red List. But they have been preyed upon by coyotes, cougar, bobcats, foxes and many other birds such as hawks and eagles. They attack burrowing owls as well as their eggs. While being attacked, burrowing owls scream and flap their wings in distress. Often, other owls come for help and try to drive away from the potential predators.

The population of burrowing animals decreased to 33% between 1996 and 2015. There are two million burrowing animals that remain in the wild. People of Florida celebrate the Burrowing Owl Festival organized by the Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife organization every year in Cape Coral, Florida.

Marmot

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No, here we are not talking about any giant animal the way it seems from the name. Here we are talking about a sweet squirrel who belong to a group of ground squirrel known as marmots. Its scientific name is Marmota Monax. They can be found throughout the United States and Canada. They have the ability to survive in different environments. Groundhogs are also known as a woodchuck, thick wood badgers, moonack, land beaver, and whistle pigs. Their name suggests they are ground squirrels, but they are very good at climbing the trees when required. Here is an interesting fact about groundhogs is that they are known as whistle pigs because of their whistling quality. When they sense any kind of danger from outside or any other animal, they whistle to other groundhogs as a warning or help. They are very good at swimming, so if any danger forces them to jump in the water, they can survive.

You can easily recognize groundhogs as they stand out because of their bushy tails and large claws. They weigh 13 to 17 pounds, almost the size of a small dog or any big domestic cat. They have different incisors color as most of the marmots have yellow teeth the have white teeth. They have a pair of incisors on top of the mouth and at the bottom. They can stand two feet tall, and their tail can reach ten inches.

Groundhogs are known to be very intelligent animals as they communicate to each other through whistling, can swim, climb and can reach a top speed of almost ten mph despite being their bulky size. They have different skills which help them survive their predators. 

They hibernate in the winter season and their body temperature, breaths, heartbeat and respiration decrease during hibernation. They hibernate every winter season. They usually come out at the start of February, but if the weather is still too cold to survive, they hibernate back till the weather gets pleasant.

Their hibernation has generated a myth about winters that groundhogs can predict the weather, and some people strongly believe in it that the United States established Groundhog Day. Groundhog Day is held on the 2nd of February. In this event, they choose a rodent and see if they come out of their burrow or not. According to this tradition, it is believed that groundhog does not see his shadow, then the spring is about to come, but if he sees his shadow, he will return to his burrow, and there will be winter for six more months. Although this myth is not true, groundhogs use other senses to detect the weather.

They stock food before winter in their burrows. Their burrows are very extensive. They are almost 66 feet long. They use their burrows to shelter from winter predators and raise their young ones. 

Unlike other marmots, they live in woodland areas and lowland plains. Other than that, they choose pastures, farmed areas, gardens, hedgerows and fields to live in. Their constant burrowing activity seems to be very helpful in maintaining healthy soil conditions in the woodlands. To find the best place to make their burrow, they keep digging from place to place to find the perfect place for their shelter. On the other hand, giving the benefit to the woodland by digging.

Groundhogs feed on grasses, plants, fruits, flowers, tree bark and vegetables because they often eat vegetarian, although they are omnivores. Other favorite food of groundhog is alfalfa, raspberries, buttercups, sheep sorrel, and dandelions. Sometimes they feed on grasshoppers and snails and eat grubs.

They are known to be hearty eaters because they have to build up fat by eating a lot in summer, fall and spring. In the hibernation period, when they go to their burrow, this fat helps them get through winters which works almost for three months.

Carnivores like coyotes, badgers, bobcats and foxes prey upon them. Many other small animals and raptors eat their pups. But as we know, they have different skills to guard themselves against their predators. They have many ways to protect themselves. One of them is with their teeth as they have very sharp incisors. Their claws are also very sharp. They fight for themselves when any other animal threatens them.

Summary on Animals in Kansas

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Kansas is well known for agriculture as 90 percent of its lands are dedicated to farming. Major crops of Kansas are cotton, corn, soya beans and wheat. The places which are not under agricultural cultivation have mixed short and tall prairies.

If you enjoyed reading about the Animals in Kansas. Also have a look at our guide about Animals in Texas.

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