South Central Wildlife Guide: Identifying Wildlife In The South Central U.S.

Deer In Tall Grass
sc wildlife
(Image credit: RDavis32)

Wildlife in South Central states brings a mixture of game animals, game birds, furbearers, and other mammals. Through wide-ranging habitats, one might see white-tailed or mule deer, bison, Proghorn antelope, desert bighorn sheep, American black bears and brown bears, mountain lions, and bobcats.

However, gardeners living in urban areas are likely to see more common animals native to southern regions such as squirrels, rabbits, bats, and raccoons. Let’s learn more about animals native to South Central U.S.

Common Animals in Southern Gardens

There are plenty of native backyard animals in Southern gardens. Here are a few:

  • Rabbits - Gardeners often see cottontail rabbits in their yards. The eastern cottontail has long fur which is usually gray or brown. Its most distinguishing feature is the white on its underside and tail.
  • White-tailed deer – Those who live on the edge of town or near a forest may be visited by white-tailed deer, common throughout much of the United States. Many plants are labeled deer-resistant for gardeners who are concerned about deer browsing.
  • Bats – Many urban dwellers erect bat houses in hopes of attracting the mosquito-eating mammals to their yards. Mexican free tailed bats, big brown bats, pallid bats, and eastern pipistrels are just a few of the bats indigenous to the South Central U.S.
  • Squirrels – The Eastern Gray squirrel is brownish or gray in color with lighter underparts and a bushy tail. Its medium size averages 1.5 pounds (0.5 kg.). The Eastern Fox squirrel has yellowish to orange coloration with yellow to orange underparts and averages up to 2.5 pounds (1 kg.), larger than the gray squirrel. 
  • Skunks – While the striped skunk generally has a bad name, it consumes beetles and mice in gardens. Black with large, white stripes on its back, the striped skunk makes its home in most habitats in the U.S. and Canada.
  • Song birds and others – While not considered mammals, song birds are prevalent among South Central wildlife. The surroundings, i.e., wooded area, open country, open with scattered trees, will determine which birds will visit. For example, eastern bluebirds inhabit open areas while woodpeckers, such as Downy, Hairy, Red-bellied and Red-headed, prefer forest openings and edges. Common backyard birds include blue jays, cardinals, chickadees, juncos, titmice, nuthatches, gold finches, house finches, mockingbirds, robins, thrashers, catbirds, and wrens. Owls such as screech and barred types seek forest surroundings.
  • Hummingbirds – One of the most beloved creatures, hummingbirds pollinate plants, eat small insects and bring enjoyment to those who attract them with hummingbird feeders and nectar plants. The most common hummingbird in Southern gardens is the Ruby-Throated hummingbird. During the fall migration, there are sightings of the Broad Tailed and Rufous hummingbirds. Those in west Texas might be lucky enough to see the Black Skinned hummingbird. Texas and Oklahoma gardeners may see the rare Green Violet-Eared hummingbird, whose presence is noted in only six other states.

Other mammals that may visit South Central gardens include:

  • Virginia opossum
  • Nine banded armadillo
  • Kangaroo rat
  • Pocket mouse
  • Pocket gopher
  • Prairie and woodland vole
  • Eastern mole
  • Red fox and gray fox
  • Raccoon
  • Beaver
  • Wild boar
Susan Albert

After graduating from Oklahoma State University with a degree in English, Susan pursued a career in communications. In addition, she wrote garden articles for magazines and authored a newspaper gardening column for many years. She contributed South-Central regional gardening columns for four years to While living in Oklahoma, she served as a master gardener for 17 years.