Environment

What Animals Live In North America?

The northern half of the New World has an amazing array of creatures to its name.

North America has a diverse array of wildlife species and is home to an estimated 457 mammals (e.g. bison, raccoon, mountain lion, beaver, moose, and jaguar), 914 birds (e.g. Bald Eagle and Goose) 662 reptiles (e.g. alligator) more than 300 amphibians and 4,000 known arachnids (e.g bark scorpion). The North American territory includes the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Greenland, each laden with diverse ecological systems that sustain these unique animal species, including many that also have inbuilt adaptations making them suited to survive in these same areas.

Arizona Bark Scorpion

#10 Arizona Bark Scorpion

A mature Arizona Bark Scorpion is about 3 inches long. Its coat is light brown or yellowish brown in color which enables it to blend well in deserts. Arizona Bark Scorpions have two fore-claws and one rear claw, separated by a body with two pairs of legs on either side. Unlike other scorpions that lead solitary lifestyles, Arizona Bark Scorpions live in packs, and are only aggressive when threatened. Arizona Bark Scorpion bodies are covered by an exoskeleton which it sheds by molting. The hot sand of the Sonoran Desert is the ideal habitat for Arizona Bark Scorpions. It ambushes its prey by hiding in burrows it digs or behind the rocks. The Arizona Bark Scorpion stings the prey from behind to paralyzed with venom. Arizona Bark Scorpion's main diets consist of crickets, cockroaches, and beetles. Arizona Bark Scorpion venom is dangerous to children and the elderly and can kill if the bitten person is not urgently treated. The Arizona Bark Scorpion matures and begins to mate at one year, and its average lifespan is 6 years, according to Scorpion Worlds.

Jaguar

#9 Jaguar

After the tiger and the lion, the jaguar is the largest cat in the Americas, and third largest cat in the world. Its fur is yellow and tan, but may vary from reddish brown to black. Jaguar spots are solid and black on the head and neck, but there are larger rose shaped patterns on the side, and back of the body, according to Defenders of Wildlife. Its weight is between 100 and 250 pounds, according to National Geographic, but males are heavier. The jaguar’s height to the shoulders is 25 to 30 inches, and its length to the tail is between 34 and 75 inches, according to Defenders of Wildlife. Except when mating, jaguars lead a solitary lifestyle in a territory marked with its waste or clawing on trees. A jaguar largely hunts on the ground, but occasionally climbs trees to get its prey. Its prey consists of deer, capybara, peccary, tapir, and since it’s a good swimmer, it also eats fish, turtles and caiman alligators. Today much of jaguar population is in South and Central America as its numbers have diminished in the United States. These regions habitat have deciduous and rain forests, swamps, pampas grasslands, and mountain scrub areas. Worldwide only 15,000 of these jaguars remain, according to Defenders of Wildlife. A jaguar’s lifespan is between 12 and 15 years in the wild, according to National Geographic.

Canadian Goose

#8 Canadian Goose

The Canadian goose has a unique black head and neck, and a white patch on the throat. Its body size is between 30 and 43 inches, with a wingspan of between 4.2 and 5.6 feet. The weight is between 6.6 and 19.8 pounds. Its spread all over North America, and is adaptable to multiple habitats, as long as they have grasses, grains or berries to feed on, according to National Geographic. But its choice habitat is anywhere with lakes, rivers, ponds, farms, and even park lawns, according to All about Birds. Canadian geese live in flocks that are noisy and rowdy, and are a known nuisance to humans in public places like parks, golf courses or areas under development, and cities. This herbivorous bird has achieves sexual maturity at two years, and its average lifespan in the wild of 24 years, according to National Geographic.

Eastern Moose

#7 Eastern Moose

The Eastern Moose is the largest member of the deer family, according to Species at Risk. Its fur is brownish to brown black to grey in color. The neck and the tail are short, ears long, and its torso is compact, and sturdy. The eastern moose also has a dewlap under its throat, and antlers whose length is 55 to 65 inches for bulls. A mature female weighs about 836 pounds and a bull 1,106 pounds, according to Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife report. An Eastern Moose’s length is about 9 feet, and a height to the shoulder of around 6 feet. Its choice habitat is boreal and mixed wood forests, shrub lands, and wetlands. That’s because the Eastern Moose feeds on twigs, stems, and foliage of young deciduous trees and shrubs. Females mature to reproduce at 3.5 years and bulls at 5.5. The eastern moose is a solitary animal except when mating, or a female caring for young ones. Eastern moose populations are in Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and Northern Ontario in Canada.

North American Beaver

#6 North American Beaver

The North American Beaver is a rodent that’s 120 centimeters long, and weighs from 35 to around 70 pounds, according to ARKive Initiative. It’s the largest of all North American rodents. North American Beavers have rough grey-brown fur, long tail, and four pronounced brown incisors. Its short forefeet are clawed to facilitate digging of burrows and handling of food. Using its webbed hind feet, and rudder like scaly tail the North American Beaver can swim and dive into the water. According to National Geographic, it eats leaves, bark, twigs, roots and water plants. A North American Beaver is active during winter, and swims and forages in ponds even in icy conditions. Its ideal habitat is wetlands like streams, ponds and lakes where food is available. The North American Beaver creates its own habitat when conditions are unsuitable, by “building” dams by felling trees with its powerful jaws, and creating mud structures to block streams, and create ponds in forests to live there, according to National Geographic.

American Bison

#5 American Bison

The largest mammal in North America is the America Bison. It height to shoulders is 1.5 to 2 meters, and its length from head to rump 2.1 to 3.5 meters, according to ARKive Initiative. The tail is 50 to 60 centimeters. The America Bison weighs 930 to 2200 pounds, according to National Geographic. It has a shoulder hump, and a short, sturdy neck, and large head with upwardly curving horns. The top of the head is covered by rugged erect blackish fur, and below the lower jaw is a black beard. The America Bison’s shoulders and forelegs have a brownish-black fur coat, and its underbelly has long black fur. A female America Bison’s body is smaller than a bull’s. Its natural habitat in the United States is laden with grasslands, meadow, and boreal forests, in states like Montana and Colorado. These have plain grasses, herbs, shrubs, and twigs the America Bison feeds on. It can run up to speeds of 60 kilometers per hour in spite of its bulky shape and is a social animal that lives in herds. America Bison achieve sexual maturity at between the ages of 2 and 4 years old, and its average lifespan in the wild is 12 to 20 years, according to National Geographic.

American Alligator

#4 American Alligator

As North America’s largest reptile, the American Alligator spans between 3 and 4.6 meters, according to National Geographic, and weighs about 1000 pounds. It’s distinguished from the crocodile by its rounded snout, and when its jaws close no teeth are visible, unlike the crocodile. American Alligator live in freshwater habitats like lakes, rivers, ponds, swamps, and marshes dotting southeastern U.S, in states like Florida, southern Texas, and Louisiana. Its body is black, dotted with specks of olive brown color, and has thick scales, a powerful tail, strong limbs, and webbed toes that enable it to swim. The American Alligator's diet comprises of fish, turtles, snakes, small mammals, decaying flesh, and even humans. Large males are territorial and solitary, but smaller alligators live close congregations, according to Defenders of Wildlife. It achieves sexual maturity at about six feet achieved at 10 to 12 years. According to National Geographic, their lifespan in the wild is between 35 and 50 years.

Mountain Lion

#3 Mountain Lion

Alternatively known as a cougar, puma, or panther, the mountain lion is a solitary and reclusive carnivore, and a member of the largest cat family in North America. According to Defenders of Wildlife, its height at the shoulders is between 2 and 2.3 feet, and its length 3.5 to 5.5 meters, and weighs from 110 to 180 pounds. Females weigh lesser than males. In North America, the mountain lion is found in British Columbia, and South Alberta in Canada, California, Texas, east of the Mississippi river, Florida, and Washington in the United States. The large cat feeds on deer, mice, squirrels, porcupines, raccoons, rabbits, mountain goat, elk and beavers. The mountain lion is territorial when mating, and can kill young ones so that it mates with females, in another male territory, according to Defenders of Wildlife. Females achieve sexual maturity at 2.5 years and males at 3 years, according to Big Cat Rescue. In the wild, they can live for 12 years and in captivity 25 years, according to Defenders of Wildlife.

Raccoon

#2 Raccoon

A raccoon is a highly adapted omnivore, native to North America. It weighs from 4 to 23 pounds, and its length is 60 to 95 centimeters, according to National Geographic. Raccoon’s common fur color is gray and brown, but others are red, black, golden, white or albino. It lives in forests, marshes, prairies and urban areas. In its natural habitat, it preys on aquatic fauna like crayfish, frogs, and others. But it also eats mice, insects, eggs, fruits, berries, and corn making it an opportunistic feeder. In urban areas raccoons vandalize garbage cans in search of easy food. During winter they aestivate (sleep for extended periods) instead of hibernating, and use fat stored in their tails to stay warm. A raccoon is fairly social contrary to beliefs, they cluster together in nurseries, according to National Wildlife Federation. Female raccoons reach sexual maturity at 10 months and males in their second year. In the wild, they have an average lifespan of 2 to 3 years, according to National Geographic.

Bald Eagle

#1 Bald Eagle

The Bald Eagle has been the United States' national symbol since 1782. Its body length is 86 to 109 centimeters, and it has a wingspan is 6 to 8 feet, according to National Geographic. A Bald eagle's weight is between 6.5 and 14 pounds, although the largest Bald eagle ever recorded was 6 meters in height, 3 meters in width, and weighed over two tons, according to National Geographic. When mature, this bird has a white head and tail, a dark brown body and wings, and its legs and bill are bright yellow, according to an All About Birds report. A Bald eagle's choice habitat is near water bodies, coasts, and lakes, where fish are found in plenty, although it will eat small mammals as well. Alaska, Canada, Florida, Michigan, and California are places where the Bald eagles are seen with the most regularity in the United States. Though the eagle’s primary diet is comprised by fresh fish, it scavenges for carrion (decaying flesh of dead animals), and steals other animals’ kills. This scavenging trait led Benjamin Franklin to argue against it being an American national symbol, himself preferring the turkey to serve in that same role. A bald eagle reaches sexual maturity at 4 to 5 years, just about the time they grow adult plumage. In the wild, it can live on average up to 28 years, according to National Geographic. The ban of the poisonous DDT pesticide in 1972 resulted in an explosion of Bald eagle populations across the U.S., and as a result it’s no longer an endangered bird today.

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