Animals in the United States rank among the most diverse and fascinating in the world. With its numerous national parks and protected areas, America is home to 432 species of mammals, more than 800 species of birds, over 100,000 species of insects, 311 species of reptiles, almost 300 species of amphibians and 1154 species of fish (that’s a lot of animals). In fact, many of these animals are endemic (i.e. they live in the U.S. only). Take the Red Salamander for example, this semi aquatic creature can only be found in the lakes and rivers of eastern US. Then there’s the Florida panther, a beautiful big cat that is sadly endangered (but the good news is that slowly their population is rising). So if you’re ready to witness some of the cutest, scariest, weirdest, and/or unique animals on the planet, take a look at these 25 U.S. Animals You Won’t Find Anywhere Else.
Occupying mature pine forests, the red-cockaded woodpecker is a small to mid-sized territorial woodpecker. Originally found in most of the southeastern United States, the population of the species is now estimated to be about 12,500 birds, which represents only 1% of its original numbers.
Recognizable by its long, striped neck, the chicken turtle is a medium-sized semi-aquatic turtle found in shallow ponds, lakes and swamps in southeastern US. With a life expectancy of 15 – 20 years, they are social animals, spending much of their time basking on logs and rocks.
With a body length of about 23 to 30 centimeters (9 to 12 in), the Pygmy rabbit is the world´s smallest rabbit. Native to inter-mountain areas of the western United States, the Pygmy rabbit mainly feeds on sagebrush.
Reaching a length of up to 88 centimeters (35 inches), the short-nose gar is a primitive fresh-water fish characterized by its prehistoric-like appearance. Found in calm waters of large rivers and lakes, the short-nose gar helps maintain ecosystem equilibrium by feeding on minnows that are destructive to game fish and other fish populations.
Hawaiian monk seal
Endemic to the Hawaiian Islands (as the name suggests), the Hawaiian monk seal is a highly endangered species of earless seals. Biologists estimate there are currently only about 1,100 specimens of these amazing marine mammals left in the wild.
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Scientifically known as Procambarus Alleni, the blue crayfish is a species of freshwater crayfish endemic to Florida. Thanks to its attractive blue color, the crayfish is widely sold in the aquarium trade all over the world. Feeding on dead fish and organic waste, it helps keep rivers and lakes clean.
Only found in southwestern Colorado and southeastern Utah, the Gunnison grouse is an endangered species of grouse closely related to the more famous greater sage-grouse. Similarly to its close relative, the Gunnison grouse is also notable for its elaborate courtship dance.
Island night lizard
Native to San Nicolas Island, Santa Barbara Island and San Clemente Island of the Channel Islands of California, the island night lizard is an 11 cm (4.3 inches) long lizard that bears live young instead of laying eggs. Considered a vulnerable species, the island night lizard can live up to 30 years.
Utah prairie dog
The smallest species of prairie dog, the Utah prairie dog is a rodent only found in south central steppes of the US state of Utah. With a total population numbering just over 4,000 specimens, this animal is listed as a threatened species by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
Another animal endemic to the Hawaiian Islands, the Hawaiian hawk is a raptor recognizable by its large talons and bulky bodies relative to its overall length and wingspan. A royal symbol in Hawaiian legends, the hawk usually feeds on rodents, other birds, bugs, small reptiles and fish.
Endemic to the Mississippi River Basin, the American paddlefish is a ray-finned fish species closely related to sturgeons. With fossils of the fish dating back over 300 million years, the American paddlefish is among the largest and longest lived freshwater fishes.
Also known as the Florida wolf or Mississippi Valley wolf, the red wolf is a critically endangered canid native to the Southeastern United States. Morphologically, an intermediate between coyote and gray wolf, the red wolf was nearly driven to extinction in the 20th century but thanks to recent conservational efforts, its population has been slowly growing again.
Measuring up to 4.6 m (15 feet) and weighing up to over 450 kg (1,000 pounds), the American alligator is a large crocodilian native to southeastern US. Found in freshwater wetlands, marshes and swamps, it is an apex predator feeding on fish, birds, mammals and other reptiles.
Also known as Hawaiian goose, the nene is a medium-sized goose endemic to the Hawaiian Islands. In 1952, the goose’s population dwindled to 30 individuals. However, thanks to re-introduction programs their population has increased. Nevertheless, it remains the world´s rarest goose.
Occupying stream and forested wetlands across eastern US, the red salamander is a semi-aquatic salamander notable for its strikingly red or orange skin with black dots. It can grow up to 20 cm (8 inches) and it eats insects, spiders and smaller salamanders.
The state fish of Arizona, the apache trout is a critically endangered freshwater fish in the salmon family. Reaching up to 61 cm (24 inches) in length and weighing up to 2.7 kg (6 pounds), it is native to the upper Salt River watershed (Black and White rivers) and the upper Little Colorado River watershed.
Also known as coast fox or short-tailed fox, the island fox is a small fox native to six of the eight Channel Islands of California. There are six subspecies of the fox, each unique to the island it lives on, reflecting its evolutionary history. Weighing between 1 and 2.8 kg (2.2 and 6.2 lb), it eats fruits, insects, birds, eggs, lizards, rodents…pretty much anything it wants to eat.
Scientifically known as Sistrurus Miliarius, the Pigmy rattlesnake is a small venomous pit viper native to southeastern US.
Common only in the brushy woods, gardens, and meadows of coastal California, the Allen’s hummingbird is a small bird, with mature adults measuring only up to 9 cm (3.5 inches). Like all hummingbirds, the Allen’s hummingbird’s high rate of metabolism requires it to feed frequently, about every hour. It drinks nectar from flowers and eats small insects.
An endangered subspecies of cougar, the Florida panther (sometimes also known as the mountain lion and by several other names) is a big cat that lives in forests and swamps of southern Florida. Almost driven to extinction in the 1970s, its population is now estimated to be about 160 specimens. In 1982, the Florida panther was chosen as the Florida state animal.
Named in honor of Frederick A. Potter, the former director of the Waikiki Aquarium, the Potter´s angelfish is a small colorful fish native to the Hawaiian Islands. These up to 10 cm (4 inches) long fish inhabit rocky ledges, where they feed on algae and detritus.
Also known as the Browers, the Alaska marmot is a medium-sized rodent living in the scree slopes of the Brooks Range, Alaska. It can be recognized by its short neck, small ears, short powerful legs and feet, densely furred bushy tail, and a thick body covered in coarse hair. Alaska marmots are very social animals, living in colonies of up to 50 members.
Giant garter snake
The largest species of garter snake, the giant garter snake is a harmless largely aquatic snake endemic to the Central Valley wetlands of California. It is active when water temperatures are at 68° F (20°C) or more, and is dormant underground when its aquatic habitat is below this temperature.
Another animal endemic to the Central Valley of California, the yellow-billed magpie is a large bird in the crow family. It is closely related to the black-billed magpie that can be found in much of North America.
Found in Colorado, Utah, Arizona and some southwestern United States, the Hopi chipmunk is a small abundant chipmunk that feeds on nuts, seeds and fruits. Unlike some other chipmunk species, the Hopi chipmunks are naturally timid, and even individuals born in captivity never become tame.