6 Animals that are Native to the USA

Delve deep into six of the most iconic creatures native to the United States of America and learn what makes them special.

Oct 7, 2023By Caitlin Ross
animals native to usa

It’s easy to get caught up in the diverse and exotic wildlife of places like Africa and Asian countries. However, paying closer attention to the homeland - the United States of America. The USA is just as rich and diverse in natural beauty if we give it the attention it deserves. This article will take a closer look at six of America’s native creatures to get a better idea of what makes the USA’s wildlife so unique and captivating.

American Bison

american bison
Image credit: Britannica

The American bison (or buffalo) is clearly a symbol of strength. These huge animals are sturdy and strong, both in their physical appearance and their temperament. Not only are bison relatively aggressive animals, but they’re also fast, so if you ever have an encounter, it’s best to leave them to their own devices and back away slowly.

Bison were once found all the way from Alaska (which explains their thick coats) to northern Mexico, but nowadays, they occupy only a small percentage of their former habitat. There are a number of bison living in conservation, and many more are managed commercially as livestock!

While the American bison nearly went extinct a number of years ago, they have since recovered. Protecting these creatures should still be a priority, though, as they are always under threat.

Gray Wolf

gray wolf
Image credit: The Guardian

Another breathtaking animal that’s native to the US is the gorgeous gray wolf, otherwise known as the timber wolf. There are between five and twenty-four subspecies of gray wolves that are found in North America, and another seven to twelve that are also found in Eurasia!

Wolves are what we might call the root source of our domesticated canine friends - the dogs we know and love and bring into our families. Thousands of years ago, wolves were domesticated, and through selective breeding, different breeds of dogs came to be.

However, in their original form, wolves are pack animals with a nocturnal edge that keeps them up at night, hunting for their prey and howling at the moon (probably).

Bald Eagle

bald eagle
Image credit: Forest Preserve District of Will County

The symbol of freedom and strength - the bald eagle is a true icon in American culture and history, so it’s no surprise that this is the national bird of the US.

The eagle is a bird of prey, and it's found from the Mexican border through the United States and Canada. There are plenty of bald eagles in Alaska, where they can be seen year-round, especially around the Rocky Mountains.

These birds are large and powerful, and surprisingly enough, the females are typically bigger than the males, with wingspans reaching up to eight feet across! They can reach altitudes of over ten thousand feet with those wings, allowing them to glide with ease and save their strength for more important tasks - like finding their dinner.

Florida Manatee

florida manatee
Image credit: Defenders of Wildlife

A creature that you may not have expected to be a native American species is the manatee, the Florida manatee in particular. These marine mammals have a gentle temperament and a herbivorous nature that has led to them being affectionately known as “sea cows.”

These soft, wrinkly sea animals are quite large, growing up to thirteen feet long and weighing over 3500 pounds, making them real-life gentle giants of the ocean.

The West Indian manatee is typically found in the southern United States, throughout the Caribbean Islands, Central America, and all the way to northern South America. However, our USA sub-species, the Florida manatee, of course, prefers the coastal waters and springs of the state of Florida, sometimes swimming all the way up into Georgia or Massachusetts in the warmer months.

California Condor

california condor
Image credit: National Park Service

Another Native American bird is the California condor. While these fowls are slightly less appealing to look at than our valiant bald eagle, they still deserve our love and attention.

The condor, even larger than the bald eagle, has a wingspan that stretches nearly ten feet from tip to tip. This makes them the largest flighted birds in North America. Unfortunately, these New World vultures are also considered one of the most endangered birds in the world.

The condor is part of the clean-up crew of Mother Nature - they feast on the flesh of dead animals. Interestingly enough, this is the reason for their ghastly baldness! Condors have no feathers on their heads or necks to help prevent bacteria from their meals from clinging to them.

American Alligator

american alligator
Image credit: Central Florida Zoo

Last but certainly not least is the American alligator, not to be confused with a crocodile, the toothiest creature in all the land. Gators have between 74 and 80 teeth in their jaws, and these always grow back if they get worn down or fall out. Their teeth can be replaced up to 50 times in their lifetimes!

Aside from their massive grins, alligators are also built for speed. They can run up to 35 miles an hour, which is faster than most humans, so if you see one, you’d be wise not to capture their attention. They’re also fast swimmers, and they use their strong and powerful bodies with that speed to help them catch their prey.

American gators are typically found throughout Louisiana and Florida, and the only other surviving species of alligator is the Chinese alligator, which is unfortunately endangered.

Caitlin Ross
By Caitlin Ross

Caitlin is an animal lover at heart with a passion for writing and sharing this love with the world. She’s a born and raised South African and grew up always surrounded by animals: more pets than she can count, and regularly adventuring with her family into the bush, where she feels most at peace with the wildlife in their natural habitat.