Indiana is home to a diverse range of wildlife. From different species of deer, raccoons, and turtles, to birds of prey like hawks and owls, there is something for everyone. Even venomous snakes! In this article, we explore six of the most common wild animals in Indiana. In addition, we talk six best places to spot them out and about.
The white-tailed deer is the most common big game animal in the Hoosier State. They are found throughout both urban and rural areas. Deer are herbivores and can often be seen grazing on crops or in wooded areas. During hunting season, many Hoosiers take to the woods in search of a trophy buck.
The raccoon is another common animal found in Indiana. They are known for their black mask look and ringed tail. Raccoons are omnivores and are often seen raiding trash cans or stealing pet food. They are also popular game animals, with many hunters pursuing them for their meat and fur.
Eastern Box Turtle
The eastern box turtle is a small, terrestrial turtle found throughout Indiana. They are easily recognized by their domed shell and brightly colored skin. Box turtles are slow-moving and often attempt to cross roads or sun themselves in open areas.
The red-tailed hawk is a common bird of prey in Indiana. They are large, with a wingspan of up to four feet, and are an amazing sight to see high in the sky. Red-tailed hawks are carnivorous and prey on a variety of animals including rodents, rabbits, and snakes.
The copperhead is a venomous snake. Typically less aggressive than other venomous snakes, it will often try to escape when confronted. Copperheads are common in wooded areas and can be identified by their copper-colored head, hence the interesting name.
The barn owl is a nocturnal bird of prey found throughout Indiana. It is arguably the most popular owl species characterized by its round head and heart-shaped face. The white underbelly is another feature that makes them easy to spot. Barn owls are carnivorous and prey on small animals such as rodents, snakes, and insects. They are often seen flying low over fields and meadows at night. There is a good chance to actually spot one in your barn!
Best Places to See Indiana Wildlife
Now that you know about the six most common and interesting wild animals in Indiana, here is where to head to actually see them in the wild.
1. Brown County State Park
Located in the heart of Indiana, Brown County State Park is a popular destination for nature lovers. The park is home to a large population of white-tailed deer that can often be seen grazing in open fields or wandering through woodland areas. Visitors can hike the park’s many trails or drive the scenic roads to get a glimpse of these beautiful creatures running along.
2. Hoosier National Forest
Hoosier National Forest covers over 200,000 acres of southern Indiana and is a great place to spot raccoons in their natural habitat. The enormous forest is great to see these clever creatures raiding trash cans or scurrying through the underbrush. The forest has many trails and camps where you can stay overnight to get a closer look at these curious critters.
3. Pokagon State Park
Located in the northeastern corner of Indiana, Pokagon State Park is a great place to see eastern box turtles. These slow-moving creatures are always crossing the park’s roads and are a frequent sight along the park’s trails. Renting a bike to explore the park’s beautiful scenery may be the best course of action.
4. Clifty Falls State Park
Clifty Falls State Park is in southern Indiana and is home to a large population of red-tailed hawks. These majestic birds of prey like to soar high above the park’s beautiful waterfalls and rugged cliffs. They use their superb sight to spot prey from all the way up. While hiking the many trails or renting a kayak to explore the park’s stunning waterways, just look up every once in a while.
5. Turkey Run State Park
Turkey Run State Park is located in western Indiana and is a great place to spot, not turkeys, but copperhead snakes. These venomous creatures are all over the wooded areas hiding among the rocks and fallen logs. Hiking the trails or taking a guided nature walk is not without its dangers. Inform yourself and be ready to learn more about these fascinating snakes before and during the tour.
6. Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area
This wildlife area can be found in southwestern Indiana and is a great place to see barn owls, among other wild animals. The nocturnal bird of prey tends to fly very low over the fields and meadows at night so camping and staying awake longer than usual can be the way to go about it. Guided bird-watching tours are great to catch a glimpse of these beautiful creatures.
Conclusion: An Unforgettable Wild Animal Experience
In conclusion, Indiana is home to a diverse range of wildlife. From deer, raccoons, and turtles, to hawks, snakes, and owls, it is an abundance of wild animals to choose from. While these animals can sometimes be a nuisance, they are an important part of Indiana’s ecosystem and should be respected and appreciated for the vital roles they play in the natural world.