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Animals of Arkansas

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Welcome to Animals in Arkansas. Arkansas is known by many as “the Natural State.” It borders the Ozark Mountains on one side and the Ouachita Mountains on the other side.

There are absolutely breathtaking mountains sights to see, with deep valleys and crystal-clear gushing mountain streams, dense forests, and fertile lowlands. In the lower parts of the state, you will find the Mississippi Delta and the Gulf of Mexico. There are wetlands, too, which include cypress swamps, slope wetlands, and more.

Many times, the climate for this fantastic growth and greenery is subtropical. Nevertheless, Arkansas still has four clear-cut seasons. The summers are humid, the spring is dry, there is a cool fall period, and snow in winter. The mountains and forests are home to outstanding wildlife, and we are going to give you 10 that are must-sees. 

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Click below to jump to a section on animals in Arkansas:

White-tailed Deer


Bald Eagle

Ivory-billed Woodpecker

Black Bear

Nine-banded Armadillo


Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrel

Western diamond-backed Rattlesnake


White-tail Deer

White-tailed deer

The white-tailed deer is the Arkansas official state mammal.  They have reddish-brown coats in summer. Then, as winter arrives, the color turns a dull greyish-brown color. The male deer, in summer and fall, have magnificent antlers. These grow every year and fall off in the wintertime.

They are called white tails because of the white underside of their tails. They weigh around 300 pounds as adults. They are animals with incredible beauty and power, running up to 40 miles an hour, jumping at around 9 feet high, and even swimming at around 13 miles per hour.

The white-tailed deer have scent glands between the two parts of the hoof, on all four of their feet. This they use for communication and for the rutting season. They have excellent eyesight and good hearing, but they depend on their sense of smell to detect danger.

They like to feed on a variety of vegetation, such as twigs, buds, poplar, aspen, sassafras, birch, and other shrubs. In the desert areas, prickly pear cactus, ratma, yucca, and others are eaten.

In winter they might eat conifers when the food is scarce. They will feed mainly before dawn and then start again from the later afternoon until evening comes. They are nervous shy creatures.

Being good swimmers, they will enter large lakes and streams to escape their predators. They are considered quite solitary but have been seen to graze together in some herds. They can survive in a variety of habitats from dense wood to hammock swamps, farmlands, and also desolate areas alongside other animals in Arkansas.



In Arkansas, along the Buffalo National River, you will find a truly great natural treasure and that is the Arkansas elk herds. Elk used to thrive in Arkansas once, but more people, hunting, and land development drove the elk almost into extinction. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) stepped in to return elk to Arkansas.

Today, around 500 elk live in the Buffalo National River area. Fall is the perfect time to view them. Males can sport antlers that weigh up to 40 pounds. They certainly bring back the native beauty of a species that was once lost in Arkansas. The elk is the second-largest species of deer in the world (only the moose is larger). In wintertime, both the males and females get like a mane of dark hair around their necks.

Elk love living in the forests and the woodlands and are also found often in mountainous areas. Some species enjoy the grasslands and moorland areas. Usually, in spring they like to migrate to higher areas to get to the new growth to eat. Apart from leaves and grass, they eat tree bark as well. They can eat up to around 9.1 kg of plant matter each day.

Bald Eagle


The bald eagle is clearly recognized by his brown body, yellow hooked beak, and magnificent white head. Who wouldn’t recognize this majestic bird – after all, it is the national emblem of the USA since 1782! Nevertheless, its numbers declined long ago, and conservation efforts rejuvenated the population again so that it can continue to be the national bird of the US.

It has a wingspan of 7 feet and weighs 15 pounds. It likes to live near a constant source of water, and its diet will consist of fish, snakes, turtles, and ducks, as well as rabbits, dead animals, and muskrats. They use their impressive sense of sight and their powerful talons to attack prey, swooping down at them.

They can easily reach speeds of up to 100 mph when they dive. Once they have captured their prey, they use that powerful hooked beak to pull out the flesh of the animal before they eat it.

They can fly to about 10,000 ft. in the air, soaring for hours just using the currents. They truly are a pleasure to watch! They like to make their homes in very big trees near water, and build impressive nests for their chicks. The nests are called eyries. They’ve got a few natural enemies but fortunately, they are not on the endangered list anymore.

Ivory-billed Woodpecker


The ivory-billed woodpecker is the largest of the woodpeckers to be found north of Mexico. This one is the third-largest in the world of woodpeckers. Unfortunately, this unusual, unique bird is critically endangered because of the destruction of its forest habitat. It was thought to have become extinct in the middle of the 20h century. It resurfaced again in eastern Arkansas years back, but apparently has not been relocated again.

They are thought to be swamp dwellers, but they are also found living on the tops of trees. Their plumage is predominantly shiny black-purple with white lines that extend from the cheeks down to their neck. They have a prominent crest with a strong, straight bill and a long hard-tipped barbed tongue. They love hardwood swamps as well as pine forests.

At night they spend their time in individual roost holes, leaving the roost holes at dawn to feed and engage in their activities. During midday, they remain quite inactive and then take up feeding activities in the late afternoon, returning to roost later. They use their massive bill to hammer and peel off the bark of trees. They are very social and often gather in groups to feed together on a single tree.

They might relocate every now and then to places that have large amounts of dead wood, because that might mean large numbers of beetle larva which they love to feed on. These birds are omnivores, preferring to eat beetle larvae. They will also eat the fruit of pecans, acorns, southern magnolia, nuts, and poison ivy seeds. It is sometimes referred to as the “Holy Grail bird” because it is so scarce and elusive. 

Black Bear

black bear in the forest

At least the black bears in Arkansas are not at dangerously low levels and have been making a good comeback in Arkansas. At one time, Arkansas was very close to losing the one animal that had anchored their ecosystem for years on end; in fact, one of the state’s most valuable resources.

They like forested areas that have thick ground cover and that can supply them with fruits, vegetation, and nuts. During wintertime, they hibernate in dens. Being omnivores, most of their diet is plant–based. They feed on fruit, nuts, herbs, grasses, honey, berries, seeds, shoots, and vegetation.

They also eat fish, insects, small mammals, etc. Its coat is black, usually, but don’t be surprised to see a dark brown one, or cinnamon-colored or even yellow-brown color. It can get to about 7 feet long from its nose to its tail, standing around 3 feet at the shoulders. It has small eyes, rounded ears, quite a long snout and a short tail. The males can weigh in at around 300 pounds. 

Up in the northern regains they love to catch the salmon in streams. They become active just before sunrise and take a couple of hours nap during the day. They will go to sleep a couple of hours after sunset. A lot of bears become active at night to avoid people or even other bears.

The black bear is an efficient hibernator, sleeping for months without eating, urinating, defecating, or drinking. They are solitary animals and live alone. They can run at about 30 miles an hour and are good swimmers too. 

Nine-banded Armadillo 


The nine-banded armadillo can live for about 8 years. He weighs about 6.5 kg. He is medium-sized and has an armored shell covering his entire body. This consists of horny scales called “scutes.” It has a small head that ends in a point. Its snout is long and he has large, pointed ears. He has large thick claws on his front feet that help him to dig. 

You will find little fur on this animal that makes it extremely sensitive to the temperatures. He can swim and run well. If they cross a stream, it is easy for them to continue walking underwater to reach the other side. He likes to live in pine forests or rainforests.

As long as the woodland he lives in is shady he is happy. He does not like to be in cold, dry environments and will prefer sandy and loamy soil, as it is easier for him to dig this soil up.  He is a solitary creature and operates mainly at night. During cloudy and cold weather, they are out and about in the daytime.

These animals don’t hibernate. They don’t have wonderful eyesight but their sense of smell is very good. If they are scared or startled, they can jump as much as 4 feet! This animal is an insectivore and will forage, using its snout to dig in loose soil.

They have a long sticky tongue which helps them to grab up grubs, worms, ants, and termites, like wrapping them up in their tongue. They enjoy tubers to eat as well as amphibians and reptiles. Armadillos have many predator enemies and these include coyotes, pumas, solves, black beards, alligators, bobcats, and jaguars. He is excellent at keeping certain agricultural pests at bay by eating them.  


The mockingbird was adopted as the Arkansas State Bird in 1929. It’s no wonder it is called by mockingbird as it can imitate the songs of heaps of other birds. It is about ten inches in length, and this includes its long tail. It has a light grey coat with white underneath. The wings and tail are a darker grey color with white patches. Both the males and females look the same. It is indeed a super songbird, and often it will sing all night long!

The mockingbird is also known as a very fierce protector of its environment and its nest. It will swoop down on any predator that ventures too close to its protected area. The mockingbird likes open grassy areas where they search for food or thick thorny shrubs to hide in.

The male likes high perches where he can sing and take care of his territory. In gardens, if there are winter berries around, he loves to spend time in this garden. His main diet is insects, ants, beetles, spiders, and grasshoppers, seeds and berries. 

Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrel 

American Red Squirrel

This really cute little animal is found in many states of the USA, and Arkansas is one of them. The thirteen-lined ground squirrel loves open areas with short grass as its habitat. It prefers sandy or loamy soil because it can burrow there. It prefers to stay away from wooded areas. You will likely see it around golf courses, cemeteries, pastures, and the roadside.

It grows to about 300 mm long. It has alternate longitudinal stripes of dark brown and tan that extends from the nape of its neck to the base of its tail. The thirteen lines that give it its name consist of either seven broad dark brown stripes alternating with six thin tan bands or seven yellow stripes alternating with six dark brown stripes. It has short ears and its tail is thin but bushy. It usually sits erect with its head pointed up. These little creatures live to be about 7 years.

They are active at midday and on sunny days. They dig burrows to hibernate in – also for nesting. In winter, they put on weight by eating to prepare for the winter months of hibernation. They lose a lot of bodyweight through hibernation. Carnivores, snakes, and raptors prey on the thirteen-line ground squirrel.

They use alarm calls as well as using secretions that are scented to communicate with other squirrels. When they meet other squirrels, they will touch their noses and lips together. The name Spermophilus means “seed lover,” and it’s true, he loves the seeds of plants and will also enjoy eating crop species like wheat and corn. It also enjoys grass and clover. Their predators are snakes and hawks. 

Western diamond-backed Rattlesnake 


Western diamond-backed rattlesnakes can be found in the Ouachita Mountains and southwestern Ozark highlands of Arkansas. They are very active from April to October, particularly at night time during the summer months. The snake has a heavy-looking body with a head that is triangular shaped. It has two dark diagonal lines on each side of its face.

They run from its eyes to its jaws. Look at the diamond-shaped patterns that run along its back, that’s where it gets its name. It’s not too picky about where its habitat is, as it adapts to deserts, plains, forests, rocky hillsides, and even along the coast.

They feed on birds, lizards, gophers, rabbits, rats, and other animals. They themselves have many predators and it’s not because the predators want to eat them but consider them as a threat. They will try to trample the snake when they come upon it. Eagles, hawks, coyotes, bobcats, and fox will try and eat it as a source of food.

These snakes spend the hot daytime hours coiled up in low growing shrubs or under rocks and use burrows of other animals. In the winter they will retreat into caves or similar kinds of places where they hibernate. They can live about 15 years, reaching lengths of 7 feet. 


where to see alligators

Alligators have been around in Arkansas for many years. Once, their numbers were depleted by unregulated hunting and destroying of their habitat.

They can’t handle the very cold weather. They won’t attack humans as long as you don’t provoke them or try and feed them. During the winter months alligators don’t eat, they spend their days basking in the sun but don’t get warm enough to digest food. They bask in the sun for hours to trap the heat.

Arkansas Post’s wetland marshes, bayous, and low terrain offer the alligator excellent habitat. Alligators can also be found in the marshes of Millwood State Park. These animals are carnivores, eating invertebrates, fish, frogs, and mammals. They have sharp teeth and powerful jaws that can even crack a turtle’s shell! They also have two large teeth that stick out when their mouth is closed.

They can grow up to about 12 feet and weigh as much as 1000 pounds. They have a long and powerful tail that helps to propel it through the water and it also uses its webbed feet. They can live to be about 50years old. They usually hibernate in winter and start rousing around April.


From the mountainous outbacks to the expanses of lowland, Arkansas hosts apex predators, exceptional bird life, to alligators and more wonders. If you are interested in reading more about all the types of wildlife you can encounter, check out animals in Pennsylvania and animals in Oklahoma next!

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