A-z - Animals

Discover the 8 Official Animals of Texas

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Nothing says Texas like pride. Texans are obsessed with their state's history and culture and take every opportunity to show their pride.

When you consider its rich history, diverse landscapes, world-renowned landmarks, country music, wildlife diversity and food, you can be forgiven for being unabashed about their Lone Star State pride. Not to mention the geographic size of the country; the choice is clear. It's either you, "go big or go home."

Texas is located in the South Central region of the United States. It is one of the Gulf states with a coastline on the Gulf of Mexico. Texas is bordered by New Mexico to the west, Louisiana to the east, Oklahoma to the north, and Arkansas to the northeast. It also shares southern and southwestern borders with Mexican states, including Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, and Tamaulipas.

It is the second most populous state in the United States, after California, and one of the largest in landmass, after Alaska. For context, Texas is more than twice the size of the United Kingdom and almost twice the size of Japan and Germany.

In Texas, many birds have been found, accounting for about three-quarters of all species in the country. One of the more unusual species is the ivory-billed woodpecker, found primarily in the Big Thicket National Monument in eastern Texas. Whooping cranes, once nearly extinct, now winter in the protected Aransas National Wildlife Refuge.

Texas is also home to a variety of animals, insects, reptiles and amphibians.

official texas animal

The Republic of Texas was incorporated into the United States on December 29, 1845, becoming the 28th state of the United States. Like other states, Texas has adopted symbols that best reflect its history, diversity and culture. These are Texas animals that have been designated over the years.

State Large Mammal: Texas Longhorn

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The North American breed of cattle is the largest mammal in Texas.

© Quinn Calder/Shutterstock.com

The Texas Longhorn became the face of the Texas cattle herd in the 1860s and 1870s because of its ability to travel long distances in arid conditions, cross rivers, and endure desert heat and winter snow.

By the time Texas declared its independence from Mexico in 1836, the cattle herd had expanded to a sizeable territory. They range from the Red River to the Rio Grande, the Louisiana border to the east, and the upper Brazos River to the west. As a result, early longhorns roamed Texas until the end of the Civil War.

The cattle breed had long been part of the state's cultural heritage until it was officially designated by the state legislature in 1995. In 1916, a longhorn named Bevo was chosen as the mascot for the University of Texas at Austin. The school's football team, the Texas Longhorns, is widely known for its representation of the animal.

The North American cattle are the largest mammals in Texas. They are known for their large, thick horns, which can be more than 8 feet long from tip to tip. Their coat colors range from red and white to brown and black.

Around the turn of the 20th century, ranchers began viewing longhorns as a less attractive breed. As a result, the number of longhorns declined, as they preferred European breeds that produced more beef per animal.

In the early 1920s, Western writer J. Frank Dobie noticed a decline in the number of Texas longhorns. The breed holds special significance in Texas history. Therefore, he believes that it is necessary to protect it.

Rancher Graves Peeler and trader Sid Richardson assisted Dobie in acquiring a herd of typical Longhorns. In 1941, they turned the animals over to the Texas Park Commission for the state herd. In 1948, the Board of Trustees decided that Fort Griffin State Park (now Fort Griffin State Historic Site), administered by the Texas Historical Commission, would serve as permanent habitat for longhorns.

State parks with longhorns include Lyndon B. Johnson, San Angelo, Cooper Breaks and Palo Duro Canyon.

National Small Mammal: Nine-Banded Armadillo

Animal with the hardest skin - Armadillo
Armadillos are covered with bony plates that form "armor".

© iStock.com/Rini Kools

The widespread, cat-sized insectivorous nine-banded armadillo is a small mammal native to Texas, adopted in 1927. It is the only armadillo species in the United States and is found in a variety of habitats, including grasslands, scrubland, woods, and rainforests. The armadillo's bony scaly shell protects it from predators, and it can vary in length from 15 to 17 inches. They usually live 7-20 years in the wild.

Nine-banded armadillos are notorious diggers; they dig holes and dig for food. This means they cannot survive in areas where the soil is difficult to dig.

They feed on invertebrates such as grubs and ants. However, eggs of small reptiles and amphibians, as well as mammals, reptiles and birds, make up only a small portion of their diet.

Their abandoned burrows often benefit other species in the wild, such as rabbits, pine snakes, marten rats, and burrowing owls. While they primarily dig lawns for grubs, these mammals indirectly help humans become predators, but not without leaving a mess. Grubs are known for their immediate destructive effects on lawns.

Although originally native to South America, the nine-banded armadillo has been found in favorable habitats throughout Texas, with the exception of the western Trans-Pecos region. They were distributed to states, including Louisiana, Oklahoma, Mississippi and Kansas.

Nine-banded armadillo populations are growing because humans have wiped out most of their natural enemies. However, they still face some risks. Because of their small size, cars can easily run over them, and they are often found dead on the road. People who see them as lawn pests may also poison, shoot, or trap them.

State Dog: Blue Lacy

blue lace dog run
The unique blue gene is present in all lace, although not all lace is blue.

©Jessica Lobsinger/Shutterstock.com

Apart from the domestic blue lace dog, what other dog breeds are worthy of national honor? Blue lacy's name and rather interesting history is in honor of four brothers – George, Ewin, Frank and Larry. They immigrated to Marble Falls from Kentucky in 1858 and were the original breeders of working dogs.

The Ranch Brothers reportedly crossed greyhounds, retrievers, and coyotes to produce blue lace. He quickly gained notoriety in southwestern Texas as a vigorous ranch dog, well suited for herding, driving, hunting, tracking, and other ranch tasks. Blue Lace has been performing these labors on Texas ranches for over a century.

Descendants of earlier lace are now used by search and rescue teams and government catchers. They have also been rediscovered as good hunting companions.

It was officially recognized as the official dog breed of Texas on June 18, 2005, when Governor Rick Perry agreed to the legislation.

With the dwindling number of family-run ranches and the introduction of all-terrain vehicles, the breed is on the brink of extinction. However, conservation measures have increased their numbers since the 1970s.

They are primarily found in Texas, but their growing popularity has led to breeding communities in other states, Canada, and Europe.

The unique blue gene is present in all lace, although not all lace is blue. Lace comes in a variety of grays, from light silver to dark charcoal gray. Red lace can range in color from pale cream to rust, while tricolor lace is a mix of these colors with a blue base. Their eyes range from bright orange to yellow.

State Flying Mammal: Mexican Free-tailed Bat

The Mexican free-tailed bat is the fastest flier in the skies, flying at speeds of up to 99 mph.

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Interestingly, Texas is the state with the most bats in the United States—32 of the 47 existing bat species in the United States live there. Additionally, Bracken Cave Preserve in Texas has the largest known concentration of bats in the world. The cave is home to approximately 20 million Mexican free-tailed bats each summer. It is located in the northern suburbs of San Antonio. Bat Conservation International owns and protects the cave.

The state also has the largest urban bat colony at the Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin, Texas, with an estimated 1.5 million bats.

In May 1995, the Mexican free-tailed bat was awarded the well-deserved National Flying Mammal designation in recognition of the importance of bats in healthy ecosystems.

When the first cold front hits the Texas hills in late October or early November, the bats migrate to the warmer beaches of Mexico, where they stay until the following spring.

Texas is a popular tourist destination for bat watching. Some of the best bat viewing areas include Bracken Cave Preserve, Camden Street Bridge, Devil's Sinkhole State Natural Area, Stuart Bat Cave and Waugh Drive Bridge.

State Fish: Guadalupe Perch

Guadalupe Sea Bass
Guadalupe sea bass are usually lime to olive green in color.

©Clinton & Charles Robertson from Del Rio, Texas & San Marcos, TX, USA / CC BY 2.0 – License

Guadalupe bass are endemic to Texas. In fact, it gets its name from the Guadalupe River that flows through Kerr County. The widespread sport fish belong to the collective known as the black bass. Like most other species in this group, Guadalupe perch are typically lime to olive green in color.

However, they are easily distinguished from similar species in Texas. They have much lower body color than the spotted bass, they don't have the vertical bars of the smallmouth bass, and their jaws don't stick out of the eye like the largemouth bass do.

It is known for attracting anglers and a fierce fighting spirit. It likes strong currents and mainly eats insects. Thus, the Guadalupe bass has earned the nickname "Texas brook trout." It relies on fast-flowing streams and creeks to find food and fend off predators.

Named the state fish in 1989, the Guadalupe bass is native to the northern and eastern parts of the Edwards Plateau. These areas include portions of the Brazos River drainage system, the Guadalupe River above Gonzales, the headwaters of the San Antonio River, and the Colorado River north of Austin.

The Nueces River contains an introduced population of Guadalupe perch. Also, small amounts can be found in the lower Colorado River. These are the places to go when you're ready for a fly fishing adventure.

Since 1991, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and partners have restored or preserved fishable Guadalupe perch populations in 14 central Texas rivers, despite efforts to address threats to the species There are great difficulties. In addition, they also rear more than 2.4 million Guadalupe perch fingerlings for conservation purposes.

State Reptile: Texas Horned Lizard

Insect-eating Animals - Texas Horned Lizard
While the Texas horned lizard prefers to eat ants, it will also eat other types of invertebrates.

©Seth LaGrange/Shutterstock.com

The Texas horned lizard has been selected as the state reptile 26 years after the TPWD classified the species as threatened. The horned lizard is also popularly known as the horned toad, horned toad, or horned frog, although it is not a toad or frog.

The lizard's round body and blunt snout give it an amphibian-like appearance, earning it its well-known nickname. It can inflate its flattened body to deter potential attackers, and insects are their main prey.

The Texas horned lizard's range spans most of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and New Mexico, as well as the south-central United States and northern Mexico. They live in open, sparsely vegetated habitats in arid and semi-arid climates. Since they like to dig, they also like loamy or loose sandy soils.

State bird: Northern robin

Northern robin (Mimus polyglottos) on a blossoming apple tree.
Robins live year-round in Texas.

©Steve Byland/Shutterstock.com

Texas became the first state to choose its state bird on January 31, 1927, when Governor Dan Moody signed a proposal to use the northern mockingbird. Then, the states of Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi and Tennessee discovered the bug and designated the same bird as their respective official birds.

Robins live year-round in Texas. They are found in all types of environments, including cities, forests, and deserts. The breeding season is when males are most visible due to their aggressive territoriality and frequent singing.

Copycats are known for their ability to imitate. They have been observed to perfectly mimic other sounds they hear, such as whistles from other birds, car horns, clucking hens, ringing telephones and barking dogs. Unfortunately, even electronic analysis can't tell the difference between Mockingbird and the original.

The northern mockingbird's broad geographic range spans North America, southern Canada, and Mexico.

State Insect: Monarch Butterfly

Viceroy versus Monarch
The monarch butterfly became the insect of Texas in June 1995.

©Sari ONeal/Shutterstock.com

Texas' geography makes it possible to host monarch butterflies during their biannual migrations.

The butterflies hibernate in the mountains of Mexico until they migrate to Canada in the spring. They then lay eggs in Texas and other southern states as they travel. The butterflies then make a stop in Texas to rest and feed before returning to Mexico in August.

Generations of butterflies go on and on like this without becoming prey. The milkweed plant they eat contains a toxin that makes butterflies unpleasant for birds and other animals.

The monarch butterfly became the insect of Texas in June 1995.


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