Wildlife in Kansas

Wildlife in Kansas
Kansas is the 15th largest state in the Union in terms of area. It has forests and hills in its eastern section, with rolling prairie in the western two-thirds. Kansas is home to many types of wildlife, with rodents, predatory species, ungulates and other mammals living within its borders.


Thirteen-lined ground squirrel

There are 36 types of rodents that inhabit Kansas. The mice are represented by the Texas mouse, the deer mouse, the western harvest mouse and the plains harvest mouse. Rats like the Norway rat, the cotton rat and the black rat can be found in this part of the country. Squirrels such as the thirteen-lined ground squirrel (picture above), the eastern gray squirrel, Franklin's spotted squirrel and the fox squirrel are frequently seen. Chipmunks, woodchucks, flying squirrels, pocket gophers, beavers, voles, muskrats and porcupines are all Kansas rodents.



Red Fox

At one time both the grizzly and black bear lived in Kansas, but no more. The gray wolf and the mountain lion are also extinct in the state, but there are still several mammals that require at least some meat on their menu. The coyote thrives in Kansas as does the swift fox, the gray fox and the red fox (picture above). The ringtail and its cousin the raccoon are in Kansas woodlands. The river otter will hunt for mollusks and fish in the rivers and streams throughout the state. Other creatures that stay close to the water are the least weasel, the long-tailed weasel and the American mink. The badger, the black-footed ferret, the striped skunk, the spotted skunk and the bobcat are all capable predators of the Kansas forests and plains.

Hoofed mammals

Pronghorn Antelope

The moose was once a resident of Kansas but has long since been extirpated from the state. There are elk and mule deer in Kansas, as well as the white-tailed deer. Two other hoofed mammals that reside in Kansas are the American bison and the pronghorn antelope (picture above). The bison was designated as the state mammal in 1955 and at one time, before the advance of settlers from the east, numbered literally in the millions across the plains of Kansas. The pronghorn is the fastest land mammal in the western hemisphere. Another animal that has seen its population reduced to a fraction of former glories, there are only about 2,000 of these antelopes in Kansas as compared to millions as late as the latter half of the 1800s.

Other wildlife

Eastern cottontail rabbit

The Virginia opossum ranges as far west as Kansas. Moles and shrews in the state include the northern short-tailed shrew, the least shrew and the eastern mole. Bat species such as the big brown bat, the eastern red bat and the hoary bat are active at night in the state. The nine-banded armadillo has made its way up from its native Mexico as far north as Kansas. The prairie is full of black-tailed jack rabbits, eastern cottontails (picture above) and white-tailed jack rabbits.


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