Iowa Wild Animals: What are They and Where to See Them?

Iowa Wild Animals

Iowa is home to a variety of wildlife species. The wild animals here are diverse and plentiful, from small rodents to large mammals. Whether you are hiking in the woods, exploring a park, or simply enjoying your backyard, you are sure to encounter some of these common wild animals. Here are six of the most common wild animals you might encounter in Iowa.

White-tailed Deer

White Tailed Deer
Source: dep.nj.gov

White-tailed deer are a common sight in many American states, Iowa being one of them. They are especially common in wooded areas and along the edges of fields. These deer are known for their distinctive white tails and they can often be seen grazing in open spaces during early morning and late afternoon hours.

Eastern Cottontail Rabbit

Eastern Cottontail Rabbit
Source: reconnectwithnature.org

The eastern cottontail rabbit is a small, ordinary rabbit that is found throughout Iowa. They are known for their soft, fluffy tails, and they can often be seen hopping through fields and yards in search of food. Usually, when you see one, there are a few more in the area. Who doesn’t like to spot a cute little bunny in the forest or an open grassland?


Source: abcwildlife.com

Raccoons are one of the most common wild animals in Iowa and they can be found in

both rural and urban areas. They are very famous for their distinctive black and white markings and their ability to climb trees and raid trash cans. Raccoons eat anything and are not afraid of going through human trash for their next meal.

Gray Squirrel

Grey Squirrel
Source: woodlandtrust.org.uk

Gray squirrels are abundant in Iowa and they can often be seen scampering up trees and across power lines. They can easily be recognized for their bushy tails and the ability to hoard nuts and acorns for the winter. Not surprisingly, they do tend to come to suburban areas and hang out in the branches of trees, but also on roofs and garages.


Source: animals.howstuffworks.com

Muskrats are aquatic rodents found throughout Iowa’s rivers and wetlands. Wherever there is a body of water, you have a good chance to spot one. They are known for their distinctive scent glands that they use to mark their territory. Also, their ability to build dome-shaped lodges out of mud and vegetation is quite famous and makes them great animals to see in the wild.


Source: mississauga.ca

Coyotes are a common predator in Iowa and can be found in rural and urban areas alike. If possible, it would gladly hunt for any of the previous five animals on the list. They are known for their distinctive howl and they can often be seen hunting it in open fields. They also like to spend time along the edges of the woods.

Where to Find Wildlife in Iowa?

Those were the animals, and now here are some of the best areas and spots in Iowa to see them. Getting up close and personal is the best way to learn about them. If you want this experience, these are the best six places to go and enjoy nature and its inhabitants.

1. Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge

Source: flyingdawnmarie.com

Located in Jasper County, this wildlife refuge is home to a variety of wildlife species. These include the legendary bison but also elk, white-tailed deer, and coyotes. Visitors can take a driving tour or hike along the trails to view these animals in their natural habitats.

2. Effigy Mounds National Monument

Effigy Mounds National Monument
Source: parkrangerjohn.com

This national park is located in Allamakee County. It is home to a variety of wildlife species, like white-tailed deer, coyotes, and bald eagles. The park has numerous hiking and walking trails and visitors can explore the Mississippi River by canoe. This is perhaps the best way to view these animals in the wild.

3. Loess Hills State Forest

Located in western Iowa, this forest is home to many different wildlife species. Except for the ever-present white-tailed deer, coyotes, bobcats, and a variety of bird species also live here. Visitors can hike the park’s many trails and hope to see some or explore the scenic byway to view these animals as well as the magnificent nature that surrounds you.

4. Yellow River State Forest

Yellow River State Forest
Source: bikepacking.com

This forest in Allamakee County is home to a variety of wildlife species. Several different wild bird species are present here, as are coyotes and deer. Walking, hiking, and cycling are the best ways to explore the nearby Mississippi River to view these animals in their natural habitats. Forest and river combos are usually the safest bet to see amazing animals running around.

5. Ledges State Park

The state park is in Boone County and is home to a variety of animals. Of course, deer and coyotes call it home but you can see birds, squirrels, and rabbits too. The nearby Des Moines River is a great chance to view them in their natural habitats. You may even see muskrats there.

6. Maquoketa Caves State Park

Last but not least, this park in Jackson County is home to white-tailed deer, coyotes, bird species, raccoons, and rabbits. The park has a lot of caves where viewing these animals would be a great way to start. Except for caves, there are hiking trails and walking paths throughout.


In summation, Iowa is home to many wonderful places where visitors can spot wild animals in their natural habitats. From wildlife refuges to state parks, there are many opportunities to get up close and personal with the state’s diverse wildlife population. Make sure to respect them as well as the plants and waterways that will be all over you.

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