Arkansas Wildlife Encounters: Best 7 Places to Spot Wild Animals

Arkansas Wildlife Encounters

Most Common Wildlife in Arkansas

Arkansas, like most southern states, is very rich and diverse in terms of wildlife. It is home to a wide range of wild animals with a variety of habitats including forests, rivers, wetlands, and grasslands. Among the most common wild animals in Arkansas are the white-tailed deer, wild turkey, eastern cottontail rabbit, gray squirrel, and raccoon.

White-Tailed Deer

White-Tailed Deer
Source: worlddeer.org

The white-tailed deer is a beloved animal in the state and one that is frequently hunted for both sport and food. These graceful creatures can be found throughout the state living in forests and open fields alike. They are herbivores who feed on leaves, twigs, and other vegetation and are known for their keen sense of smell and hearing. Easily startled, they can be tricky to get close to.

Wild Turkey

Wild Turkey

The wild turkey is another popular game animal in Arkansas. These large birds are native to North America and can be found throughout the state, and most of the country. They are often hunted during the spring and fall seasons and are known for their distinctive gobbling call. Wild turkeys are omnivores, feeding on a variety of foods including nuts, berries, and insects.

Eastern Cottontail Rabbit

Eastern Cottontail Rabbit Arkansas
Source: willyswilderness.org

The eastern cottontail rabbit is a common sight in Arkansas and can be found in fields and forest edges throughout the state. These small mammals are herbivores, eating mostly grasses, clovers, and other vegetation. They are known for their ability to run and jump quickly and are often preyed upon by larger animals like foxes and coyotes. Quick and agile, they are not easily spotted at times.

Gray Squirrel

Gray Squirrel
Source: projectupland.com

The gray squirrel is another common resident of Arkansas and can be found in both urban and rural areas. These agile rodents are omnivores and they can eat a variety of foods including nuts, seeds, and insects. They are known for their bushy tails and their ability to climb trees and jump from branch to branch. Look up in the trees if you want to spot them.


Racoon Arkansas Wild Animal

The raccoon is a familiar sight in Arkansas and can be found throughout the state. While it may not be as interesting as some other animals because it can also be seen in the cities, it is a different experience to spot one in the wild.  These nocturnal animals are omnivores and their diet consists of fruits, nuts, insects, and small animals. They are known for their distinctive black mask look and ringed tail and are often seen raiding trash cans and other sources of human food.

Other Common Animals

Source: mass.gov

Other common wild animals in Arkansas include the bobcat, coyote, red fox, opossum, armadillo, beaver, muskrat, river otter, bald eagle, osprey, great blue heron, Canada goose, wood duck, mallard duck, snakes and northern bobwhite.

These animals are an important part of the state’s natural heritage and contribute to the ecological balance of Arkansas’s many different habitats. Should you spot one, respect its privacy and marvel at it from a safe distance.

If you’re planning a trip to the Mississippi area and want to be aware of the potential wildlife encounters, the Southwest Journal has recently published an informative article about venomous snakes in the region

Best Places to Spot Them

Now that you are more familiar with the animals, here is where to head to see them in their natural habitats:

1. Buffalo National River

Buffalo National River
Source: peakvisor.com

The Buffalo National River is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts in Arkansas. It offers opportunities for hiking, camping, and fishing and people love spending their recreation and leisure time here. The river is also home to a wide variety of wildlife including river otters, beavers, bald eagles, and black bears.

2. Ouachita National Forest

Ouachita National Forest
Source: arkansas.com

The Ouachita National Forest covers over 1.8 million acres of land in central and western Arkansas. The forest is home to numerous wild animals including larger predators like black bears, but also herbivores and omnivores like white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, and many species of birds.

3. Petit Jean State Park

Petit Jean State Park is in central Arkansas. It is famous for its beautiful landscapes and outdoor activities potential. The park is home to a variety of wildlife, most notably the ever-present white-tailed deer as well as raccoons, bobcats, and many species of birds. Bird watchers will love this area.

4. White River National Wildlife Refuge

White River National Wildlife Refuge
Source: nwaonline.com

The White River National Wildlife Refuge is in the eastern part of Arkansas and is home to a variety of waterfowl, including ducks and geese. The refuge is also home to many mammal species like deer, black bears, and river otters.

5. Lake Ouachita State Park

To the west of Arkansas lies Lake Ouachita State Park well-known to the locals for its crystal-clear waters and great fishing opportunities. Taking out the kayak or canoe and spending the day casting into the lake is as good as nature-loving gets. The park is a natural habitat for a lot of marvelous species including bald eagles, white-tailed deer, and wild turkeys.

6. Devil’s Den State Park

Devils Den State Park
Source: onlyinark.com

Devil’s Den State Park is located in the northwest region of Arkansas and it is recognized for its hiking trails, camping opportunities, and scenic beauty worth the space on your gadget’s memory card. Animal watching is big here as the area is home to a variety of species including deer, raccoons, and numerous bird species of all shapes and sizes.

7. Hot Springs National Park

Last but definitely not least is the Hot Springs National Park located in central Arkansas. It is a hot spring so you know the animals will love it.  It is famous as a historic bathhouse and it is home to the rich and diverse wildlife mentioned above. Animals who do not live that close also come here for the hot springs.

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