5 Amazing Animals Unique to North America

From wild cats to modern-day dinosaurs, here’s a look at five animals you’ll only find in North America!

Oct 4, 2023By Lauren Rey
animals unique to north america

From the swamps of the Southeast to the snow-covered Rockies, North America is full of amazing wildlife. Thousands of species of unique animals can be found across North America. Here’s a look at a few species you won’t find anywhere else!

5. Bobcat

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One of the smaller wild cat species found in North America, the bobcat is roughly two to three times larger than your average housecat. They are known for their unique tufted facial fur, spotted coats, and signature bobbed tails.

Bobcats are a very adaptive species. They can survive just about anywhere, from the hot, humid swamps of the south to the snow-covered mountains of the north. As versatile hunters, bobcats can sprint fast (up to 30 mph) to take down rabbits, climb and leap high to catch birds, and will even go fishing if the opportunity presents itself.

Although they are the most abundant wild cats in North America, they are also one of the most elusive. Rarely spotted, bobcats prefer the cover of dense forests or rocky ledges and are most active at night. While bobcats are found throughout Canada, the USA, and Mexico, your best chance at spotting one is in the USA, where they reside in almost every state!

4. Bald Eagle

bald eagle
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Often a symbol of power, resilience, and grace, the bald eagle is a large bird of prey known for its contrasting dark body, light head, and bright yellow beak. Bald eagles are typically found soaring above shorelines as they search for their favorite food source, fish. Eagles are experts at fishing, using their incredible animal eyesight to locate fish and their large, sharp talons to pluck them right out of the water.

Bald eagles are the only eagle species that are solely native to North America. These majestic birds are found from Canada to Northern Mexico but are most abundant in the United States, where they have been adopted as a national symbol of freedom.

Since 1782, bald eagles have adorned the seal of the United States. They continue to be a cherished species of wildlife and one of the most widely admired birds in North America.

3. American Black Bear

american black bear
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One of the most widely distributed bear species, the American black bear can be found throughout most of Canada and parts of the United States and Mexico. These bears are quite adaptive, tolerating all sorts of environments, from the swamps of Florida to the frigid forests of Alaska.

While bears can often inspire a sense of fear, the American black bear is typically seen as far less threatening than the grizzly bear, which can also be found in North America. Black bears mostly eat plants and keep to themselves; unprovoked attacks on humans are extremely rare. Every year, countless visitors flock to Great Smoky Mountains National Park for its abundance of black bear sightings. The park is home to over 1,900 resident American black bears. One of the largest protected bear habitats in the contiguous US.

While North America is home to three bear species (and several subspecies), the American black bear is not found anywhere else in the world, making it another special species only found in North America!

2. Gila Monster

gila monster
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Found throughout Southwestern deserts in the United States and Mexico, Gila monsters are the largest lizard species in North America. Gila monsters are known for their unique looks that include their hefty size, black and orange patterned skin, and forked tongues. They are also uniquely venomous, being one of only two venomous lizard species in North America.

While Gila monsters are venomous, they pose very little threat to humans. These slow-moving desert dwellers only reach speeds of 1.5 miles per hour and remain mostly underground. This also makes them hard to spot for those who may be looking.

Gila monsters were named for the Gila River Basin, where they were first discovered by scientists during the late 1800s. To this day, they remain known as one of the most interesting and unique lizards found in North America.

1. American Alligator

american alligator
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The closest thing we have to a modern-day dinosaur, the American alligator roams the swamps and waterways of the Southeastern US, invoking both a sense of fear and fascination. These gargantuan reptiles can grow up to 15 feet and weigh up to a whopping 1000 pounds.

Alligators are important apex predators in their native environments. They keep a wide variety of animal populations in check, including fish, reptiles, birds, and mammals. They are also a huge tourist draw for many areas. Every year, visitors flock to the Florida Everglades for a chance to see an alligator up close; but not too close, of course! When it comes to alligators, distance is your friend.

Often confused for the crocodile, which is found throughout the world, the extraordinary American alligator is only found in one place, North America!

Lauren Rey
By Lauren Rey

A lover of all animals, Lauren’s background is in the veterinary world, but she is now a content writer on travel, wildlife, and all things pets! She’s based in Florida, but when not writing, she’s usually plotting out a new road trip route with her partner-in-crime. Pickles is a mixed-breed rescue dog that loves hiking, road trips, and Starbucks just as much as her mom does!